Seven interesting things about the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

While the 2014 FIFA World Cup has just gotten underway in its host country of Brazil, a tournament of a different kind – but with equally high stakes in terms of world prestige – is in full swing at Rio Las Vegas.

The 2014 WSOP logo

Now in its 10th year at the Rio and its 45th year overall, the World Series of Poker will award at least $10 million to the winner of the Main Event.

The 2014 World Series of Poker began at the end of May and will continue through July 14. Last year, it attracted a record 79, 471 participants from 107 countries.

Participants this year are competing in 65 different poker events, including some exciting new games. For example, the Dealer’s Choice is a six-handed, three-day event that begins on June 19. It’s based on the concept that most people learned to play poker while sitting at a kitchen or living room table. The person shuffling would typically choose the game. So at this event, a selection of 16 different types of poker will be offered, with each game determined by the player who holds the special Dealer’s Choice button.

Several popular games from past WSOP tournaments are returning as well – like the $1 million buy-in for the Big One for One Drop, which takes place June 29 – July 1. Debuting in 2012, this event captured the attention of the world by being the largest buy-in poker tournament ever conceived. The Big One for One Drop was created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. From each entry fee, $111,111 is donated to One Drop, a charitable organization that strives to make sure water is accessible to all. The inaugural event was a sellout with 48 entries. It had a prize pool of more than $42 million, and awarded first-place winner Antonio Esfandiari a whopping $18,346,673 prize. In its second-ever run this year, the field will be expanded to 56 players.

Of course, the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship (more commonly called the “Main Event”), garners the most attention annually at the WSOP. That will be held July 5 – 14, when a field of more than 6,000 players will be narrowed down to nine contestants who will sit at the final table, scheduled at the Rio for Nov. 10 – 11. Dubbed the “November Nine,” they will compete for the world championship title, a diamond-encrusted gold bracelet and a guaranteed first-place prize of at least $10 million.

Here are some other interesting things about the prestigious WSOP that you may not know about:

1.) More nations were represented in the 2013 WSOP than took part at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia – i.e., 107 vs. 88.

2.) At the 2014 WSOP, approximately 475 poker tables are in use at the Rio, which is the most ever. In addition to its poker room, tables have also been set up in other locations throughout the hotel and convention center, including the Amazon Ballroom (110 tables), the Pavilion Ballroom (256 tables) and the Brasilia Ballroom (92 tables).

Ryan Riess 2013 WSOP Main Event winner

Ryan Riess poses with stacks of cash after winning the Main Event of the 2013 World Series of Poker to collect $8,361,570. Photo by Steve Marcus / Las Vegas Sun.

3.) You might spot celebrities at the World Series of Poker. Skilled in acting, they not only tend to be comfortable but also very successful at the poker tables. The list of notable entertainers who have participated in a WSOP tournament includes Ben and Casey Affleck, Jason Alexander, Louie Anderson, Dean Cain, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Shannon Elizabeth, Brad Garrett, David Alan Grier, Tobey Maguire, Ed Norton, Laura Prepon, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, Donnie Wahlberg and James Woods, among others. The only one to win a WSOP gold bracelet is actress Jennifer Tilly.

4.) The record for longest game played at a final table in one of the WSOP events was set in 2009. Starting with nine players, it took 23 hours and 18 minutes to determine a winner.

5.) As mentioned above, the winner of the 2014 WSOP Main Event will walk away with $10 million. Here is how its winner purse compares to the average annual salaries in other professional sports: NBA, $5.15 million; MLB, $3.2 million, NHL, $2.4 million, NFL, $1.9 million; MLS, $160,000 and PGA, $628,079. So the 2014 WSOP Main Event champion will take home almost the same amount as the average NFL, NBA and MLB player does combined.

6.) Ever wonder when poker players are able to go to the bathroom or grab a bite to eat? Normally, participants in the WSOP get between 15 and 20 minutes of breaks for every two hours of poker played.

7.) Age is no barrier in the WSOP. In 2009, Joe Cada became the youngest player to be a Main Event champion at the age of 21 years, 11 months, 22 days. In 2010, Jack Ury was the oldest player ever to compete in a WSOP event at the age of 97.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.