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WSOP Main Event

Also known as the Big Dance, the WSOP Main Event is without a doubt the highlight of the Series (that is unless of course you manage to win a bracelet in a side-event in which case you’ll probably find that event much more memorable). The best is saved for last by the organizers apparently. The big question regarding the Main Event is: can its winner indeed be considered the world’s best poker player? The answer to that isn’t a simple one either: the Big Dance is definitely the most popular poker event, and its $10k buy-in isn’t exactly cheap either. With all that though, scores of fish descend upon its tables each year. The various online poker qualifiers (which have pretty much been eradicated for US-based players this year), offer online players easy access. If one is to consider that the Main Event winner does indeed have to best the largest starting field there is out there, then the answer is yes, the winner is indeed the best player in the world.

Poker pros have long mulled the idea though that the NL Holdem format used by the Main Event left too much room for gambling and luck. In 2002, PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu said that the Main Event should adopt the PL Holdem format, because that supposedly requires a more complete set of poker skills from the players and from the eventual winner. He too had acknowledged of course that such a move would never happen. Since then though, the $50k Players’ Championship event, which features an excruciating mixed format, has pretty much been accepted as the true measure of skill for players.

The WSOP Main Event has featured its trademark $10k buy-in since 1972, when Amarillo Slim won. Since then, the Big Dance has come a long way: back in 1972, there were 8 participants. There had been a steady growth in attendance even before the popularity explosion caused by the emergence of online poker in 2003-2004: in 2002, there were 631 participants. Chris Moneymaker’s victory in 2003 (when a total of 839 players coughed up the buy-in) has proved that any online qualifier could win the big one. In 2004, the starting field had bloated to 2,576.
The record has been set in 2006, when no fewer than 8,773 players registered, creating a first-place prize of $12 million. Jamie Gold won that year.
On account of the 2006 UIGEA, attendance has taken a bit of a hit, but the numbers have remained impressive through the years.

Given the record-breaking tendencies exhibited by this year’s Series, this may be a good chance to see that 2006 record fall. Whether or not that will indeed be the case, remains to be seen. One thing is certain though: the Big Dance is just around the corner again, and those willing to buy into it can hardly wait to get going.

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