This year's WSOP could be historic for poker
July 01, 2014 3:01 AM
by Robert Turner
The 2014 World Series of Poker is on track to becoming one of the most successful events in poker history with increasing numbers in nearly every event.
The WSOP kicked off with Vanessa Selbst winning her third bracelet and $871,148 in the $25,000 buy-in Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold’em event, cementing her title as the highest-earning female poker player of all time with over $10.5 million in total winnings. She is the first and only woman to win three bracelets in open WSOP events, and is currently ranked the number one poker player in the world, the first woman to ever hold that distinction.
The $1,500 Seven-Card Razz event drew massive interest when Ted Forrest went head-to-head with Phil Hellmuth. It was an epic battle between two great players with 18 bracelets between them. Phil seemed well on his way to capturing his 14th bracelet, but after several hours of heads-up action Ted came from behind to win $121,196 and his 6th bracelet, his first since winning two bracelets at the 2004 WSOP. This was Phil’s 101st cash and 50th final table at the WSOP, both records.
Another record was set in the Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship as Dan Heimiller outlasted the field of 4,425 players to capture his second WSOP bracelet; last year’s Seniors Event attracted 4,407 players. Dan walked away with $627,462 in first place money, and has 53 career-WSOP cashes to his name, he has surpassed poker icon Johnny Chan (45) and is now chasing Phil Ivey (55) and T.J. Cloutier (60).
The Millionaire Maker shattered last year’s record 6,343 entries with a massive field of 7,977, making it the second-largest tournament in poker history, trailing only the 2006 WSOP Main Event which drew 8,773 players. Jonathan Dimmig, a 31-year-old aspiring novelist, walked away with his first bracelet and the $1.3 million first place money.
The third largest tournament in WSOP history was the so-called Monster Stack which drew 7,864 entrants. With a total prize pool of $10,613,700, for a buy-in of $1,500 one lucky player is going to walk away with $1.3 million. As of press time, this event was still in progress.
Another big story at this year’s WSOP was Humberto Brenes, known as the Shark from Costa Rica, cashing in four out of four events in the first six days of the series. Even more astonishing, according to Nolan Dalla, three of those tournaments had more than a thousand players. To date, he has eight cashes.
Humberto and Hellmuth set the record for the highest number of money finishes (eight) at the 2006 WSOP. The record now stands at 11 set in 2012 by Konstantin Puchkov. Humberto, a future Poker Hall of Famer, told me he is going to concentrate more on poker next year. That’s good news for the poker world as he is a class act and a great ambassador for the game.
This year I played in three events and was able to place 20th in the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud, which featured some of the toughest tables I have ever played. At one point my table had Mel Judah, David Chiu, Tom McEvoy, Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand Grospellier. It was hard to calculate how many bracelets were in that group.
At my age, I feel lucky to be cashing after playing in the WSOP for over 30 years, especially against such world-class competition.
The $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship was won by John Hennigan, a world-class poker player who I know from the pool world as a great 9-ball player. When I met John he was called Cornflakes. Now he is known as Johnny World, a feared opponent at any poker table. This win marked his third straight cash in this event. After coming close the past two years Hennigan won his third WSOP bracelet, the $1,517,767 first prize money and his name etched on the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
History was also made in this event when Melissa Burr became the first woman to both cash and final table the Poker Players’ Championship. She finished seventh and has made two other final tables this year.
This year’s charity event called the Big One for One Drop is a $1-million buy-in poker tournament started by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte. If all 56 seats are filled, the first prize could reach $20 million, the biggest first-place prize in sports TV history. Selbst will be the first woman to play in the Big One, which raises awareness of water-related issues amongst the poker community and beyond. Funds will be directed to One Drop projects around the world where the team is hard at work providing sustainable water access.
Overall, I thought the WSOP was very well-managed, especially considering the record-setting numbers the staff had to deal with. The poker media is doing a great job covering all the excitement. I was glad to be part of such a historic event.
Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiard marketing expert, best known for inventing the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has over 30 years experience in the gaming industry and is co-founder of Crown Digital Games. Twitter @thechipburnerRobert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.