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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - The Big Dance

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Every year those particular competitors who battle on the green felt arena swoop down on the most decadent of desert oases – Las Vegas, Nevada. Their landing spot is the Rio Hotel and Casino, where every summer the biggest and most prestigious poker event of the year takes place, the World Series of Poker or more commonly referred to as simply the WSOP.

Since the inception of the WSOP in 1970, much has changed, both with the Series, the game and the city where it all started. Back then there were less than 50 poker tables in the whole city of Las Vegas and only about 70 tables scattered throughout all of Nevada. The first event was not even a tournament, but a high stakes poker game played out over several days in a shoe box sized alcove because Binion’s didn’t even have a real poker room at the time. Johnny Moss was declared the “best all around player” when a vote was taken amongst the players. The next year however the event was changed to a $5,000 buy-in freeze-out format which Moss legitimately won, thereby retaining his title and being crowned the 1971 WSOP Champion.

Although Benny Binion holds the official title as the Father of the WSOP, he actually got the idea from a couple of gamblers named Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey.

Tom Moore was a transplanted Texan who had a stake in the Holiday Casino in Reno. Vic Vickrey was a gambler with connections and big dreams. In 1969 these two buddies got the idea to invite a bunch of poker players to Reno for what they called the “Texas Gamblers Reunion.”

The gamblers who attended are now familiar names in the poker history books; Doyle Brunson, “Amarillo Slim” Preston, Johnny Moss, Puggy Pearson, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, Rudy “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone, and, of course, Benny Binion.

As these legends of poker played high stakes games over the next several days, little did they know what this small gathering would blossom into. The only one of the original participants who is still around to relate the stories is of course “Texas Dolly" himself, Doyle Brunson.

Unfortunately for them, Moore and Vickrey declined to host the event the next year, so Benny Binion took up the reigns and the rest they say is “history.”  But what a history it has been, from 1972 when there were only 12 entrants, to 1973 when it was televised for the first time and there were a total of five events, to today. Long gone are the days when the Main Event raised eyebrows because of the $10,000 buy-in. For 2009 there will be 12 WSOP Championship events, all costing a minimum of $10k including the $40,000 buy-in 40th Annual No-Limit Hold ‘em (Event 2) and the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. (Event 49).

And along with everything else, the games have evolved too, now there seems to be a tournament in every game variety from the traditional No- Limit Texas Hold ‘em all the way to the obscure Triple Chance No Limit Hold ‘em, with Razz, Stud, Omaha and everything else thrown into the mix. Needless to say today’s poker players who head to the WSOP really have to be skilled in all forms of poker, not just Hold’em if they hope to win in the desert.

For those players with a bankroll that doesn’t have room for a $10k buy-in, the WSOP has several events starting at $1,500. Being a senior or female does have its privileges however, especially at the WSOP. The Seniors No-Limit Hold’em World Championship (Event 43) title can be had for $1,000 and the ladies can be crowned queen of the WSOP for $1,000 in the Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship (Event 17).  Other World Championship events on the schedule this year are:

•    Seven Card Stud (event 6)
•    Mixed Event (Event 12)
•    Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (Event 18)
•    Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball (No-Limit) (Event
•    Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em (Event 29)
•    Limit Hold'em (Event 33)
•    Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better (Event 37)
•    Pot-Limit Omaha (Event 40)
•    Pot-Limit Hold'em (Event 45)


If sugarplum dreams of WSOP championship bracelets dance in your head but the reality of your bank balance discourages you, there are hundreds of opportunities for you to make your dreams come true.  Of course if you are well known enough and play good enough, you may get a sponsor. Unfortunately for most of us, these Poker Sugar Daddies aren’t hanging out on street corners waiting for us to pass by so they can stake us in a WSOP event.  So for us regular people, the answer is satellites.

If you are heading to Vegas to find a dance partner (a WSOP seat) the Mega and Single-Table satellites at the Rio will kick off on Tuesday May 26th with buy-ins starting at $330. If you want to win your seat from the comfort of your own home, you can do that too and it is much cheaper. Since the final dance of the Big Dance, the No-Limit Texas Hold’em World Championship event won’t take place until July; there is still time for you to win your way in by playing online.

No matter where you make your online poker home, they are sure to be offering satellite promotions that can get you your WSOP seat. These satellites range from step events with no buy-in (FreeRolls) and micro buy-ins of just a dime all the way up to $500+. Of course the bigger the buy-in, the more direct route to the coveted prize – a WSOP seat. Most of the prize packages aren’t just for the Main Event buy-in either; they also cover the $250 registration fee and usually $2,000 in cash for spending money. The spending money is for a hotel and travel expenses, so depending on where you live, you still may need to come up with a chunk of change yourself if you want to get there and eat too. But let’s face it; $12,000 will get you quite a ways on your journey to the poker Mecca. And once you get there it will just be you and 11,999 other warriors battling for the ultimate prize, fame, glory, the WSOP crown, a gold bracelet and—oh  yeah—millions of dollars in cash. And in this case, what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas - you can take all that cash home with you.

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