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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP 2010 | WSOP Poker Potpourri

Past to Present: A Review of the 2009 WSOP as 2010 Launches

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As the 2010 World Series of Poker prepares to get underway at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, there is no better time to look back at the previous year’s festivities as a comparison. Though each year is different, the statistics matter, as Harrah’s looks to best its previous year in attendance numbers and various demographics. And in the hopes of seeing poker grow, many in the industry monitor the information closely.

The 2009 WSOP showed overall growth from each of the five previous years, despite a worldwide recession and fears of the poker industry taking a hit as a result. The numbers for overall entrants were as follows:

2004    14,054
2005    32,341
2006    48,366
2007    54,288
2008    58,720
2009    60,875

All indications are that the 2010 will break the record. Not only are there more $1,000 NLHE events added to the buy in this year, but organizers have vowed to do better to accommodate more players in the $10K Main Event. In addition to following the consistent growth that has been par for the course in the last several years, extra and more affordable events in 2010 might allow a significant jump in the overall number of players.

In 2009, there were 57 events, and the 60,875 registration number made the cumulative prize pool soar to $174,013,215. That money was split amongst 6,246 players who walked away with prize money for their poker efforts. A total of 57 gold WSOP bracelets were awarded, with the Main Event bracelet accompanying a massive $8,547,044 first place prize that went to Joe Cada. All in all, the 2009 WSOP found itself with participants from 115 countries and bracelet winners from 12 different countries, the majority (39) going to United States residents but three each to Canada, Italy, and the UK, two to Germany, and one each to Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Iran, Mexico, Russia, and Sweden.

The 2009 WSOP had several multiple bracelet winners - Phil Ivey, Greg Mueller, Brock Parker, and Jeffrey Lisandro, the latter of whom won three events and became the Player of the Year. While each of the previous years had at least one multiple event winner, the 2009 Series stood out for its consistent performers, with Phil Ivey being the most prominent as the most well-known of the group but also the only one to make it to the Main Event final table as part of the November Nine. The “Year of the Pro” as it was dubbed by many poker media outlets, certainly proved to be so when the list of winners was complete.

Some of the positive developments from the 2009 Series included the new bracelet ceremonies, allowing each WSOP winner his or her moment in the spotlight. Their national anthem was played, and they were presented with their gold bracelets, and the success of the ceremonies prompted the WSOP to do it again in 2010. The November Nine was another success, as its second year proved to be more popular than its first, with overflowing crowds lining up to watch the action and solid ratings from ESPN upon its broadcast. Another ritual that seems to be written in ink going forward.

The new code of conduct seemed to work last year, as did the expansion of the areas available to WSOP poker players in the Convention Center. The latter worked so well that even more of the Convention Center at the Rio is being used in 2010, with its entirety being reserved for the WSOP. There is even talk of a bar area with televisions for those interested in watching the World Cup but not wanting to stray far from WSOP action while doing it.

Of lessons learned from the 2009 World Series of Poker, the one that stood out the most was the shutting down of registration for the Main Event on Day 1D. It was a tough day for the staff of Harrah’s, as despite efforts to advise the public that maximum capacity was being reached, so many players attempted to sign up at the last minute that the WSOP wasn’t set up to handle it. Players were turned away - in the hundreds, some estimated close to the thousand mark - and unhappy about being shut out of the biggest poker tournament in the world. Harrah’s was stuck at a certain point, without the staff or security measures to handle more players, though they regretted their inability to do so. Though new policies have not yet been announced to address this situation in 2010, organizers seem confident that this problem will not occur again.

The overall feeling from the 2009 WSOP, however, was one of history being made, records being set, and many pros taking their rightful places in the winner’s circle. No one can predict what stories will come out of the 2010 festivities, but if the past is any indication, look for improvements, bigger numbers, and even more exciting stories.

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