LAS VEGAS – In mid-July, the world’s richest sports event will be coming to its conclusion – and no, I’m not talking about the World Cup.
The 49th annual World Series of Poker is taking place for the 14th straight year at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino after being held at Binion’s Horseshoe for 35 years in downtown Vegas, and they’re expected to have $200 million in prize money for the sixth time in the last seven years.
OK, the term “sports” is debatable, but it is televised by ESPN (with the Main Event airing daily on either ESPN or ESPN2 from June 2 through the champion is crowned on the night of June 14 or the very early morning hours of June 15) just like last year when Scott Blumstein, a 25-year-old self-professed grinder from Brigantine, N.J., outlasted a field of 7,221 (third biggest in Main Event history) for the $8.15 million first-place prize, which the WSOP likes to boast is more than the money collected by the winners of the Masters, Kentucky Derby and Wimbledon (men’s and women’s) – combined.
While the Main Event is, well, the main event, there are a total of 78 gold bracelet events being held this year. The action at the Rio actually starts Tuesday with deep stack events (which run daily throughout the WSOP for those trying to earn their entry fees in biggest events) with entry fees ranging from $150 to $365. The WSOP poker app in Nevada has also been holding online qualifying tourneys, but (in case you thought the Supreme Court ruling and the upcoming legal sports betting in New Jersey was the only gambling news in the Garden State) for the first time this year, New Jersey residents are also allowed to play in combined pools and tournaments with Nevada online players, including a couple of online-only bracelet events.
Maybe you’ll see me at your table in the online events, but also keep an eye out for me at the Rio as I’ve covered the WSOP every year since 1999 and I’m planning to play in a couple of events this year at the Rio in my VSiN shirts and baseball cap. Be sure to say “hi” – but not while I’m in a hand!
Even if you’re not a poker player, you should still stop by the Rio during the WSOP as it is quite the scene and there’s no admission charge. Whether you’re a player or spectator, the full schedule of events is at: http://www.wsop.com/tournaments/ and you can see there’s events for just about every budget. Obviously most of the attention goes the $10,000 world championship events as well as the $50,000 Pokers Players Championship, $100,000 No-Limit, Hold’em High Roller and $1 million Big One for One Drop charity event, but there’s also the $365 WSOP.com online event, the $365 buy-in Giant and the $565 buy-in Colossus. Here’s a few highlights:
Wednesday, May 30: The traditional opening event is the $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em tourney, but you can only enter if you’re a Nevada casino employee. However, later that same day is a $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty event ($3,000 for each person you eliminate, so knock out 4 and you’re a guaranteed winner).
Friday, June 1: This is the opening day of the aforementioned Giant with a $365 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event, but five separate Day 1s are actually held on the five Fridays in June (and players go into the money on each of the opening days) with all survivors combining on Saturday, June 30.
Friday, June 2, through Monday, June 4: Day 1 of the $565 Colossus runs three days and has two opening flights each day at 10 a.m. PT and 5 p.m. PT with the survivors coming together for Day 1 on Tuesday, June 5. This event has had the three biggest fields in WSOP history, topped by the 22,374 entrants in the inaugural event in 2015.
Sunday, June 3: This is the low-end $365 WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em event that will be open to Nevada and New Jersey residents (note: they are sure to be signing up many people at the Rio to be playing in this event as well and many will be playing in the Colossus while also playing online).
Monday, June 4: If your poker experience is limited to Hold’em and 7-card no-peek, you probably should avoid the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed event. Players have the choice of 20 variants of poker and you better know the differences between Badugi, Badeucy and Badacy.
Wednesday, June 6: This is the $10,000 Heads-up No-Limit Hold’em Championship. It’s limited to 512 entrants, so that’s just 9 head-to-head wins between you and the gold bracelet.
Saturday, June 9: The $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Millionaire Maker is another huge tourney (drawing more than 7,000 entrants each of the last four years) with its guaranteed $1 million first-place prize for a modest entry fee.
Friday, June 15: I’ll be playing in the $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em event (must be 50 years of age or older).
Wednesday, June 20: This is the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event and I intend to play as I’m a better “limit” player than “no-limit.” Yes, my poker game has its limits.
Thursday, June 28: The $10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship starts on this day, and before there are any complaints, men are allowed to enter for the full $10,000 entry fee. Women get a reduced entry fee of $1,000, however (no word on how they determine the fee for men who identify as women).
Saturday, June 30: This is the one-day $3,200 WSOP.com Online High Roller Championship, but I’ll be taking my eldest daughter Jordyn on a college tour at Stanford and unable to play from California.
Monday, July 2, through Wednesday, July 4: Day 1 of the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event is held over three days with Days 1A and 1B combining for Day 2 on Thursday, July 5, and Day 1C survivors (always the biggest Day 1) coming back for Day 2 on Friday, July 6, with everyone combining on Saturday, July 7.
Saturday, July 7: For those who don’t make it to Day 3 of the Main Event, the $1,111 ($111 goes to charity) Little One for One Drop starts on this day.
Thursday, July 12: Here’s a new event with “The Closer,” a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event with unlimited re-entries for those hanging around the Rio during the Main Event Final Table.
Sunday, July 15: This is the bigger charity event, The Big One for One Drop, with a $1 million buy-in and caps off the World Series of Poker (and will also be televised on ESPN2 on July 16-17).
Shuffle up and deal.