This Monday marks the beginning of the World Series. But this one is Vegas style… meaning no bats; no balls; just cards; and the appropriate amount of eyebrow sweat lingering against your poker face.
USA Today reports that, “More than 2,000 players entered the $1,500 buy-in, three-day tournament at the Rio hotel and casino off the Las Vegas Strip.” This championship showdown, originally brought to my attention by my gambling loving Aunt Lori – who by the mere mention of chips or cards reacts with a visual adrenalin boost redolent of a hyperactive child who snuck into the cookie jar– draws tens of thousands of spectators to Vegas each and every year… not to mention the vast televised viewership on the edge of their seats. And why wouldn’t it? The right hand might land you millions in prize money! Did I mention 61 championship bracelets? Actually, I see now as I scan my eyes up through the last paragraph that, no, I didn’t mention it. Sorry I wasted your time asking. Moving on.
“This week’s event stretches from noon to 2 a.m. Poker champions Phil Ivey, Allen Cunningham and Daniel Negreanu were among the players,” continued USA Today. “For their $1,500 buy-in, players get chips worth $5,000 in game money.” No novice… you can’t just cash out. But, don’t get me wrong. I was thinking the same thing. “The point is to not go bust and stay in as long as possible to make it to the final rounds on Wednesday, when the champion will win the first of the many bedazzled bracelets given out during the series and several hundred thousand dollars. Participants can only make money if they make into the final 10 percent of players.”
WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky said, “They are making it hard for the older players.” He claimed, “The stamina required to play through all the rounds tends to draw young male participants.” Not to get too hung up on details here… but I’ve never thought of poker as a sport reserved only for the physically fit. I mean really. What could the athletic training look like? “Okay, and flip that card! Flip that card! Nice! Alright, good! Okay this one is a little tougher. Go slow at first. I want you to take all those chips in that pile and toss them over here. There you go. You’ll get there! Great job! Cool off and get some water champ!” Just sayin.’
Here’s a fun little fact that will leave you unfazed whether or not you can complete a triathlon or not… “Pius Heinz, 22, of Germany, won the $8.72 million top prize last year out of 75,000 participants.” Impressive, but what’s special this year? “The World Series of Poker will host a never-before-seen $1 million buy-in tournament this year expected to generate the biggest top prize in poker history at more than $12 million. Nearly 40 players have already entered.”
For those of you that want to “roll” in for the action, the main event starts July 7 and the finals are held on October 28. Admission is free. You know what they say, “When the chips are down, get another bag.” Wait, maybe that was Tostitos.