World Series raises pot to $2 million

Apr 9, 2001 2:55 AM

   Gambling won’t be limited to the 5,000 entrants playing at 75 tables during the 32nd Annual World Series of Poker.

   The event, which is annually held at Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, starts Monday and ends May 18. During this time span, Tournament Coordinator Cathi Wood will be doing her own type of gambling.

   “We’ve ordered 10 cases or 1,000 decks (of standard KEM cards), and we hope it lasts,” said Wood, who is starting her fourth year as coordinator. “We may run short and have to order more during the tournament. The reason is that if a card has a nail mark in it, the deck has to be taken out of the game. Or in a rare instance, when a player gets frustrated and damages a card, that deck has to be removed.”

   Cards aren’t the only worry for a coordinator at the WSOP.

   “We’ll have to order more tournament chips (than in 2000),” said Wood. “Last year, we came close to running out of the higher denomination chips.”

   Another concern involves ordering 500 WSOP jackets for competitors and for sale in the gift shop. Then, a gold bracelet must be ordered for the winner of the five-day championship event and roses must be purchased for the winner of the Women’s Championship May 13. This is in addition to the paper clips, rubber bands and staples that always are in constant demand.

   Sounding like a poker player, Wood said that there’s “always something that comes up that you aren’t prepared for or don’t expect.”

   Wood’s job isn’t the only one that gets hectic. Her father, Bob Thompson, is the tournament director, and he has his share of challenges.

   Due to increased participation, Thompson said that two events have been added to the WSOP.

   On April 28, S.H.O.E., a two-day event combining 7-card stud, Texas Hold’em, Omaha 8s or better and Stud 8s or better, will be held. There will be a $2,000 buy-in and a $100 entry fee.

   “A lot of players like to play a combination of more than one game,” said Thompson. “We had a lot of requests to offer something along these lines. Some players feel adept at one of the games, and some other players feel comfortable in all the games. We’re calling it S.H.O.E. instead of Horseshoe.”

   The second new event is the Oklahoma Johnny Seniors Championship May 7. Anyone who is 50 or older by May 7 is eligible. There is a $1000 buy in and $75 entry fee.

   Another change is that the championship event, the Texas Hold’em (no limit with a $10,000 buy-in), will be five days in duration instead of the traditional four days. This year’s big event will run May 14 through May 18.

   “The tournament is getting so big now that the fatigue factor enters into it,” said Thompson. “Those12-, 14- and 16-hour days favor younger players over older players. So, we’re trying to level the playing field by adding an extra day.

   “The schedule will be eight hours long on the first two days. On the third day we’ll play down to the final five tables and it will probably take 10 hours. On the fourth day, we’ll play down to nine players and it should take about 10 hours. And the final event (May 18) should last nine to 10 hours.”

   Not only has the schedule changed, but the prize money, which had been $1 million to the winner from 1990 to 1999, will increase from $1.5 million in 2000 to $2 million going to the winner and $1 million for the runner-up in 2001.

   “We ended up with 512 players (for the championship event), so the payoff was $1,500,000 last year. This year, it’s going to move up to $2 million for first place if we have 625 players or more.”

   While the field is expected to increase, the final table for the championship has also grown from its traditional limit of six players to nine players.

   “No one will receive less than $100,000 at the final table of nine players,” said Thompson. “No one remembers who played so hard to finish seventh, eighth and ninth. We’re trying to change it around so some people get the notoriety they deserve.”

   The player who got the most notoriety last year was champion Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. In one of the most dramatic finishes in history, it was a nine on the last card of the last hand that won the championship for the 37-year-old over 62-year-old T.J. Cloutier, who earned $896,500 for second place.

   The final change is that a Casino Employees Texas Hold’em will be April 20. “Last year, it was dealers only,” said Thompson. “This year, any casino employee who shows a work card is eligible to play.”

   The Discovery Channel will air the championship event on tape delay for its third straight year.

The Reserve’s Cash Giveaway awards weekly $$$ to players

   The Reserve is giving away cash — $90,000 to be exact. The Henderson hotel/casino holds weekly drawings each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m.

   At every drawing, 10 players will each win $500 and one ticket will be drawn for a $2,500 cash prize. Winners must be present.

   Entry tickets will be awarded to customers playing slots, video poker and video keno for each increment of 100 Club Reserve points earned on any denomination, as well as live keno, poker, and bingo games.

   Sports book players can also participate. Table game players can earn tickets on blackjack, craps, roulette, Let-It-Ride, Three-Card Poker, and Pai Gow poker. Ticket distribution on table game play is posted inside the casino. Players must collect drawing tickets at the Club Reserve Booth.