WSOP 2011: Old and new return to claim bracelet for Blighty
The main event is perhaps the perfect example of the evolution in poker. Not only has the size of the event changed but also the make-up of the players, particularly form the United Kingdom which has a long tradition of sending its best poker players to contest the big dance in the desert.
Ten years ago the picture was very different from that of today. British Players, now considered to be veterans of a bygone era dated before the internet boom, were among the few hundreds who came to Las Vegas with their eye on poker's ultimate prize. Now, ten years later, thousands flock here, including those same older pros, but they've been joined by the new generation, barely in their twenties and already boasting heavyweight tournament records.
Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly knows all about the business end of a major tournament. In June 2009, Kelly won the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event at the World Series in Las Vegas, earning $194,434 - a career best. Then, a little more than three months later, he added a second bracelet, this time a WSOP Europe one in No-Limit Hold'em, a feat worth another $225,535.
Since then Kelly's world has become one of big buy-in events in the United Kingdom and in Europe, stepping up from being a strong local player to become one of the UK's most talented exports.
In 2010 he narrowly missed out on a third bracelet, finishing second to Scott Shelley in the £1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event in London. Now, with career live tournament earnings in excess of $1.3 million, he returns to Las Vegas, playing today, as one of the UK's top prospects.
These have been fertile times for new young British pros. The likes of Jake Cody (EPT6 Deauville winner and this year's WSOP Heads-Up Champion), Sam Trickett (Winner of Aussie Millions and second in the High Roller), Praz Bansi (Two WSOP bracelets) and Toby Lewis (EPT7 Vilamoura winner) have forged a new mould of player - unafraid and confident, with equal measures of swagger and aggression, and they're here to claim the prize they feel is rightfully theirs.
WORLD CHAMP UPDATE OF THE HOUR
Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel is down to 17,000.
RUB DOWN OF THE HOUR
Number of massage chairs directly outside the Amazon Room: 8
Number of people getting a back rub: 1
WHERE AM I OF THE HOUR
"Where's the Amazon Room?" - woman standing right next to the sign for the Amazon Room.
EXERCISE CHECKUP OF THE HOUR
2.21km--distance registered on member of foreign press member's pedometer as he monitors his ambling around the Amazon Room.
OPPORTUNITY OF THE HOUR
Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen is looking for a fourth for Bridge right now if you're interested
DINNER WE MISSED OF THE HOUR
Joe Hachem's Lebanese Dinner (he feed 80 people)
SCHEDULING NOTE OF THE HOUR
ElkY will be having a book signing in the morning at 11am at the Rio if you're interested in the thoughts of a guy who can win at anything