WSOP in mid-season form

Jun 17, 2008 7:04 PM

By GT Staff | The World Series of Poker reached its halfway point last weekend, and all indications are tournament poker is alive and well, showing no ill-effects from the slumping economy.

Most events so far have attracted record fields, which in turn have produced record prize pools.

For instance, the first $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event – the most popular of poker’s variations – attracted 3,929 players, which easily surpassed the previous record of 3,151.

Other events that attracted record fields include:

• Omaha Hi-Lo Split: The field of 833 players eclipsed last year’s roster of 690.

• $2,500 No Limit Hold’em: The turnout of 1,395 entrants was 8 percent more than last year’s 1,290 players.

• No Limit Hold’em Shootout: The 1,000 participants exceeded last year’s field of 900.

• Pot Limit Omaha: The field of 759 surpassed the previous record of 578.

WSOP Publicity Director Nolan Dalla said the "exhilarating" tone of tournament play was set on the very first final table of the first event.

"On the first hand at the final table, Phil ‘the Unabomber’ Laak moved all-in with pocket jacks," Dalla said. "High-stakes poker shark and heartthrob Patrik Antonius called his raise and showed pocket kings.

"A jack on the flop brought wild cheers from the crowd and a dance from Laak," Dalla continued. "But a king on the river gave Antonius the pot, leaving Laak low on chips."

Dalla said "the Unabomber" busted out a few hands later, only to be consoled by girlfriend, actress Jennifer "the Cleavage" Tilly.

The event was eventually won by Canadian poker pro Nenad Medic, who, Dalla said, set an interesting precedent for things to come.

"Through the first 24 events, poker professionals have won 18 gold bracelets, with amateurs winning four and semi-pros taking two," Dalla said.

In recent years, the $10,000 main event has been won by amateurs, many of whom qualified or gained the bulk of their experience playing online poker.

Perhaps to accommodate the wishes of tournament professionals, this year’s World Series features more events with buy-ins of $5,000 and $10,000 than every before.

The higher buy-ins tend to discourage amateur players, keeping the fields to manageable sizes.

As far as the winners’ state or country of origin, Nevada tops the list with eight gold bracelet winners, followed by New York with four, California and Missouri with two each, and Canada with two.

Germany and Italy, along with Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have each produced one bracelet winner.

Finally, there have already been a number of "firsts" this year, including a Mixed Event championship and $10,000 Seven Card Stud championship.

But, perhaps nothing will top the "blessed event" that occurred for David Singer shortly after winning the Pot-Limit Hold’em championship.

"Just hours after winning his first WSOP victory, Samuel Koster Singer was born," Dalla said. "This is the first known case of any WSOP event winner ever having a child born within a day after achieving victory."

David said his soon-to-be wife, Erin, and their first child were doing well.

If you’re wondering … no, he wasn’t born on Father’s Day!

Fairy tales for poker players can only go so far.