WSOP 2011: Nothing compares to game open to all (technically)


For anyone new to the World Series it doesn't take long to realise that this is a contest like no other. Even to those not up to speed on the intricacies of the game can see for themselves the thousands of players, the hundreds of tables, and the sheer size of the Rio Convention Centre that contains it all. It's hard to think of anything to rival it.
What makes the main event so unique? Could its appeal be anything to do with the easy transition from not doing it to doing it?

Poker provides the only sporting contest during which participants can surf the internet, listen to music, eat, drink, drink booze and talk to your opponents. Actually if you took the opponents away you'd call this "sitting at home".

You can wear what you like (there really are no boundaries), sit how you like, you need no prior training and the game offers a seat on which to rest for those with great debts to physical fitness.

Crowds of players and spectators in the Amazon Room

In line with other wealthy competitions you have a chance of appearing on television, you can read books about it; buy magazines about it, travel to luxury destinations to compete and even become something of a celebrity.

Sure, other individual sports often take several days to play. A cricket Test Match takes five, a golf tournament four and an ultra-marathon two, but the main event takes ten long days of concentration and determination, and all in an environment that lends itself to day dreaming and the temptations of nearby distractions.

Then there are the railbirds. Where else can spectators get so close to the action yet see so little?

The only real difference to anything else is that crucial element of cash. No other sport like it requires participants to stump up an entry fee of such weight. But as long as several thousand people fly, at their own expense, to the Nevada desert each year and put ten grand down on the table (with I.D.) and see their own success spelled clearly in their imaginations, this will remain the biggest show in town.

And that show is about to go to dinner. After a few more hands the 90 minute break will begin, with players returning to the tables at 8.30pm local time.


Day 1C entrants: 2181

"I can confirm that 1D is already bigger than that." -- Seth Palansky, after revealing that Day 1C numbers had exceeded 2,100.

2003 WSOP champion Chris Moneymaker

Approximate costs of previous Phil Hellmuth WSOP Main Event entrances: $150,000
Approximate cost of 2011 Phil Hellmuth entrance: $150