WSOP 2013: Frequently Asked Questions

Forty-eight hours ago, I was sitting on a new friend's porch celebrating Independence Day. I mentioned that I was flying out to Vegas the next morning for work and that I'd be gone for a couple of weeks.

Now, if you're anything like me, you've found that people who don't know much about poker have a hard time wrapping their head around a tournament that can last for weeks, pay out millions, and is, of all things, a card game.

Because answering these questions is something I do on a regular basis, I thought I'd write up the most common queries I get from friends and family who have no idea what I do for a living. Feel free to print it out and hand it to your Aunt Lucy when she starts asking questions.


So, what is this thing called?

It's the World Series of Poker.

Like baseball, but poker?

It's got nothing to do with baseball, but in the game of poker, it carries the same importance.

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And it's poker? Like five-card-draw?

No. It's a game called Texas Hold'em.

Oh, yeah! I saw that on TV! Two cards. Two minutes to learn. Lifetime to master!

Something like that.

Wait! Are you on TV?

No. Well, sometimes, but it's usually by accident.

And write about poker? People read that?

More people than you would think.

So, how much does it cost to enter?

Ten thousand dollars.

You're kidding me!

There are actually tournaments with much bigger entry fees.

How many people play in the World Series?

It varies from year to year. This year there will probably be between six and seven thousand.

Thousand? Really?

It used to be bigger. In 2006, there were 8,773 people. The winner got more than $12 million. And a bracelet.

A bracelet? What?

Think of the Stanley Cup...if you could wear it.

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So, do people like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey always win the World Series, or is it somebody I've not seen on TV

It varies, but for the last ten years, it's probably somebody you hadn't heard of, but that doesn't mean people didn't know them.

How does that work?

Well, there are players who are famous in other countries who you might not have seen on TV here. Then there are players who have been working really hard and winning but never ended up in a tournament that was televised. And then there are the internet players who are really, really good, but don't play live.

And you can keep up with all of those people?

Well, no, but just like any other sport, there are really good databases that help us keep track of everybody.

Is the World Series always in the same place or does it move around?

For more than 30 years, it was at a place called Binion's in downtown Las Vegas. Then, Harrah's bought the WSOP, and in 2005 moved it to the Rio.

So, it's in the Rio casino?

It's way too big to be in the casino. It used to be in one gigantic convention all. Now it's in three giant convention halls.

Do you get to play, too?

No. No, I don't.

Is it because you suck or--

Is there any more potato salad?

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Photos courtesy Poker Photo Archive.