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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

2008 WSOP Breaking Records

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The 39th annual World Series of Poker has broken records in the area of attendance, prize pool, and worldwide representation. And the importance of those number and facts is much more than bragging rights; they are critical to the viability of poker as a sport and the future of the game in the United States and globally.

To look at the records set this year, we find several impressive accomplishments.

• Most total registrants at any WSOP: Though the total number of players in Event #55, the Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em tournament, has not been released, the other 54 events created an all-time record for most participants in any year’s WSOP at 57,793. The previous record was set in 2007 with 54,288 players.
• Largest total WSOP prize pool: Again, without the total from Event #55 figured in, the total prize pool for the 2008 WSOP comes to $180,960,934, which breaks the record set in 2007 of $159,796,918.
• Largest non-main event field: In Event #2, a total of 3,929 players registered for the first $1500 NLHE event of the 2008 WSOP, which made it the largest tournament ever held outside of a main event.
• Most countries and territories represented: With the exclusion of the 2008 WSOP main event, the numbers for which had not been tallied at the time of this post, players at the 2008 WSOP represented 104 different countries or territories. The record that was broken was set in 2007 with 87 countries or territories.
• First brothers to win bracelets in same year: Blair Hinkle won Event #23 after Grant Hinkle won Event #2 at the 2008 WSOP. The brothers are from Kansas City, Missouri, and are the first ever brothers to win bracelets in the same year.

The overall result of the records being broken is that poker is growing in popularity. While other signals in the industry, such as television viewership and book sales, point to a downswing in the game’s popularity, the overall attendance at the 2008 WSOP and the money that those players brought to the game show that the game is truly not suffering. Even despite tough economic times in the United States where the tournaments are held, all signs point to poker’s health and ability to withstand market swings.

Of course, the rising numbers and newly attained records are positive for Harrah’s Entertainment and the World Series of Poker brand. It acknowledges that improvements to the WSOP over time continue to bring new names and faces to the game and draw players to Las Vegas from all parts of the world. As a result, Harrah’s will continue to support the WSOP, as will sponsors and partners who make the WSOP the ever-growing brand that it is.

But more than that, the records show that poker thrives in all parts of the world, and the interest in the game continues to bring people from their kitchen tables, online poker sites, and home games to the greater forum of live tournament poker. The ongoing and increasing success of the WSOP should also let lawmakers and governments know that despite their attempts to make a moral issue of it, poker is a game – a sport, if you will – that people will find a way to play. Poker players are nothing if not persistent and resourceful, and the sooner that is recognized and treated with the respect it deserves, the sooner poker will grow into something that many of us can’t even imagine.

The growth of the WSOP during its 2008 tournament season shows that poker is alive and well. Record-breaking attendance and prize pools are an obvious indicator of that.

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