It’s World Series of Poker time!

PokerTalkGraphicWHOO HOO – the World Series of Poker is once again happening at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas right now with an amazing 73 events scheduled between May 30 and July 22.

Cards began hitting the felt with a $565 Casino Employees No Limit Hold em tournament and will continue to fly through the final table of the iconic $10,000 No Limit Hold em World Championship Main Event that finishes up on July 22.  Last year’s winner of the Main Event, Qui Nguyen, took home over $8 million and there were 6,737 entrants in the tournament.

There has been a change in how the final table of the Main Event will be played this year. It will be spread over a three-day period from July 20 – 22 and will be nationally televised on ESPN/ESPN 2. The play on July 20 will take the final table from nine players to six; the play on July 21 will take the final table from six players to three; and on July 22 the final three players will play until a No Limit Hold em World Champion is crowned.

In between Event #1 and Event #73 there is a wide variety of poker tournaments including events such as a new $365 buy in No Limit Hold em tournament known as The Giant; a $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo or better tournament; a $2,500 Mixed Triple Lowball tournament; to even a $10,000 Tag Team No Limit Hold em Championship.

There is a special feel about the World Series of Poker with the elite of the poker world rubbing elbows with the everyday player. While winners receive big payouts, since 1976 each has also received a coveted diamond encrusted championship bracelet. “It is the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup in hockey or the Lombardi Trophy in football” said World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack during the 2006 bracelet unveiling.

World renowned professional poker player Phil Hellmuth has won the most championship bracelets in the history of the World Series of Poker with 14 and said, “To me the bracelets have always been a really huge deal, to me more than the other guys, because I knew that they represented history.”

I also have found that there are two additional side benefits to being at the World Series of Poker, aside from the tournaments themselves.

Live action during the 2015 World Series of Poker.

Live action during the 2015 World Series of Poker.

First are the side games surrounding the tournaments. They are running day and night, 24 hours a day and there is an amazing variety of all limits and types of games. I have found the play is a bit loose in these games as everyone seems to be waiting for a tournament; just got knocked out of a tournament; or wishes they were in a tournament – in other words their minds are elsewhere.

Second are the Daily Deep Stack tournaments. These are one day events ranging from a $135 buy in to a $365 buy in and occur each day during the World Series at 2, 5, 7, and 9 p.m. These tournaments attract hundreds of players with very large payouts based on the buy in’s.

I am heading down to Las Vegas for my annual World Series of Poker visit for a few days in June and plan on playing in Event #24. It is a three-day, $1,500 buy in No Limit Hold em event with $7,500 in starting chips and 60 minute rounds.

The issue for me is, I have been playing the big $30 – $60 Limit Hold em game and tournament play is much different. Three things I need to do – limit the range of hands I will play; ensure I am completely focused while playing; and play an absolute cutthroat game designed to gather as many chips as possible and win the tournament.

So – wish me luck! I am on a quest to join World Series of Poker Champions such as the iconic Johnny Moss – winner of the first two World Series of Poker Championships in the early 1970’s; or the universally respected, three-time winner of the Main Event Doyle Brunson; or the well-known champions of some of the first nationally televised Main Events during the early 2000’s such as Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer.

Remember – play your game and hopefully I will have a great story to write about next month!

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