The World Series of Poker has reached its halfway point, and all indications are tournament poker is alive and well, showing no ill-effects from the slumping economy.
Most events so far have attracted capacity fields, which in turn have produced record prize pools. Through the first five events, the WSOP has attracted 25,482 entries, with nearly $50 million in total prize money awarded.
In addition, records that were set last year were broken this year.
For instance, the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em "Stimulus Special" event – the most popular of poker’s variations – attracted a capacity 6,000 players, easily surpassing the 3,929 players who anted up in last year’s $1,500 event. In fact, the event was the largest non-WSOP main event tournament ever played.
Other events that broke records include:
• WSOP 40th Anniversary Championship: The $7.7 million prize pool was the largest ever for a non-main event tournament.
• Omaha Hi-Lo Split: The field of 918 players eclipsed last year’s roster of 833.
• $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha: The 809 entrants created the largest live Pot Limit Omaha tournament in poker history.
• $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship: The 96 entries surpassed last year’s field of 85 players and was the largest turnout ever.
• $2,000 No Limit Hold’em championship: this year’s 1,646 entrants surpassed last year’s previous high of 1,592.
WSOP Publicity Director Nolan Dalla noted some interesting trends and statistics through the first half of the tournament.
"Through the first 23 events, poker professionals have won 16 gold bracelets, with amateurs winning four and semi-pros taking three," Dalla said.
He added that non-Americans have won five of the first 25 events. (Last year, 19 of the 59 gold bracelet events were won by non-Americans, or 32 percent of the total.)
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 ever before.
The higher buy-ins tend to discourage amateur players, keeping the fields to manageable sizes.
As far as the most money won by players from a specific locale, California leads the way with $7.5 million in prize money, with Nevada players a close second at $7.2 million (through 20 events).
Russia is in third place with $2.2 million in prize payouts, with New York, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania rounding out the top five states.
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