sunny.png
Monday September 23rd, 2019 3:58PM

All backgrounds bet on becoming World Series of Poker champ

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Tens of thousands of professional and amateur poker players go on a pilgrimage to Las Vegas every summer in hopes of returning home richer, owning a gold bracelet and having considerable bragging rights.

They are young and old and overwhelmingly male. They are college dropouts and accountants, entrepreneurs and CEOs, actors and athletes, psychologists and comedians. And they all have a chance of becoming world champions.

At the World Series of Poker — now marking its 50th edition — everything is possible.

"The beauty of poker is anyone can enter and anyone can win," said Ty Stewart, the series' executive director. "We all love the stories of overcoming challenges, at defying the odds. This occurs regularly at the World Series of Poker."

Cowboy gambler Benny Binion probably wouldn't recognize the tournament today. He started it in 1970 as an invitation-only event with a few men gathered at his casino in downtown Las Vegas. They were all elite players, and Johnny Moss was declared the winner by the other men at the table.

Moss got a trophy. There was no multimillion-dollar prize pool, no constant television coverage and definitely no smoking ban.

It has transformed into a phenomenon that has paid almost $3 billion in prizes — minting millionaires, airing live on ESPN and streaming online.

The series is well positioned to set an attendance record this year, with 122,473 entries so far. Its marquee contest, the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event, kicks off Wednesday. The no-limit betting rules mean players can wager all their chips at any time.

The tournament this year runs through July 16 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, off the Las Vegas Strip. It features different poker variations, with buy-ins for the events ranging from $400 to $100,000.

The series saw a record 123,865 contestants in 2018, when the prize pool of over $266 million was divided among 18,105 participants. Twenty-eight of them earned at least $1 million. Every champion received a gold bracelet under a tradition started in 1976.

"When we started out, there were very few people from outside the United States that were playing with us," said T.J. Cloutier, 79, a six-time bracelet winner from Richardson, Texas. "And now there's a ton of people, and they are from all over."

More than 100 countries were represented in last year's tournament.

Poker's popularity in the U.S. erupted in 2003, when Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker entered a $39 online poker satellite contest, won an entry to the main event and emerged victorious, earning $2.5 million and inspiring other amateur players. Many had been honing their skills — and building a bankroll — through online games.

A year earlier, so-called hole-card cameras were introduced to the series' broadcasts, allowing viewers to see the cards participants were holding and play armchair quarterback.

"When you watched it on TV, it was like watching paint dry," said Cloutier, who has finished the main event twice as runner-up and once each in third and fifth place. "Now, you could actually watch the tournament and know what was going on."

Entries to the 2004 tournament increased by 85%. By 2006, the main event got a record number of players. But then poker began to lose steam in the U.S.

Participants in the series' main event fell by 28% in 2007, when the government cracked down on online wagers. The Department of Justice in April 2011 then delivered a stronger blow when it seized the domain names of the largest offshore poker sites catering to U.S. customers.

While participation in the series has set records since 2013, the main event has remained below the 2006 record. The overall increase is tied to the addition of events with smaller buy-ins.

"There are events for a wider group of people," poker pro Daniel Negreanu said. "What that does is it attracts a much wider skill set of players. You have your hometown hero who comes out to Las Vegas to give it a shot as well as, of course, all the top professionals in the world."

Series owner Caesars Interactive Entertainment is holding an awards ceremony Saturday to celebrate the 50th milestone. The company allowed fans to choose some players being recognized, including fan favorite player, the series' "favorite bad boy" and the four most important players in the tournament's history.

A panel of media and industry experts also revealed this week a list of the 50 greatest poker players in history, including Cloutier and Negreanu.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell and record-setting Jeopardy contestant James Holzhauer are celebrities who have played this year. Other contestants could become famous overnight.

Many of those who remember watching Moneymaker's storybook victory as teenagers and the ensuing poker boom are now competing and winning.

"I played all throughout middle school, even as a kid. I was always a big fan, and the personalities in the game were kind of what made it great," said Scott Blumstein, who won $8.1 million as a 25-year-old in 2017's main event. "As a kid, I used to definitely look up to these people, and it's really cool being a part of it now because I definitely watched it and was a fan."

___

Garcia Cano reported from Baltimore. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO .

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, College Sports, AP Entertainment, AP Business, AP Business - Personal Finance, AP Sports - College Baseball
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Castro, O'Rourke both hit Texas capital after debate dustup
Suddenly, Julián Castro is the Texas presidential candidate on the rise
2:40PM ( 2 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump jokes with Putin over election meddling
President Donald Trump makes light about election meddling during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a summit in Japan
2:36PM ( 5 minutes ago )
All backgrounds bet on becoming World Series of Poker champ
Those betting on becoming the champion at the World Series of Poker are college dropouts and accountants, entrepreneurs and CEOs, actors and athletes, psychologists and comedians
2:36PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
High cheese comes to land of high tea: Yanks vs Red Sox
Baseball with an English accent: High cheese comes to the land of high tea when Yankees play Red Sox
2:08PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Dutch unsuccessfully attempt to move game to cooler time
The Netherlands made an unsuccessful attempt to have its Women's World Cup quarterfinal game against Italy moved until later Saturday to avoid the harshest temperatures of the French heat wave
12:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
Baseball union: Player approval needed to play in Montreal
Baseball union says Rays would need its permission to play games in Montreal
12:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
LEADING OFF: Kimbrel settling in, deGrom tries to right Mets
LEADING OFF: Kimbrel settling in with Cubs, deGrom tries to right struggling Mets, Clevinger comes back of IL
11:10PM ( 15 hours ago )
Yankees say injured Stanton likely to return in August
Yankees say Stanton more likely to return in August than July from knee strain
11:01PM ( 15 hours ago )
Fans elect historically young NL lineup for All-Star Game
Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich have been elected starters for one of the youngest All-Star Game lineups ever, leading the millennial-heavy National League for this year's Midsummer Classic in Cleveland
10:54PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
'Welcome Home, UConn': Huskies rejoin Big East
'Welcome Home, UConn': Huskies rejoin Big East, are introduced as newest member of conference in which they were charter member 40 years ago
4:04PM ( 22 hours ago )
Accountant, ex-coach plead guilty in college bribery scheme
A former University of Southern California soccer coach and an account who worked for the consultant at the center of the college admissions bribery scheme have pleaded guilty in the sweeping case
12:47PM ( 1 day ago )
Vanderbilt wins 2nd national title, beating Michigan 8-2
Vanderbilt beats Michigan 8-2 to lock up 2nd national title
11:50PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Court hears appeal on 'Pharma Bro' Shkreli's fraud case
A federal appeals court in New York City is considering whether the securities fraud conviction against the former drug company executive known as "Pharma Bro" should be thrown out
2:06PM ( 36 minutes ago )
How Europe hopes to keep trade flowing with Iran
How European countries hope to keep trade flowing with Iran to save the nuclear deal.
1:59PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Iran sees some progress on nuclear deal, but not enough
A senior Iranian official says a meeting with the remaining partners in its nuclear deal with world powers produced some progress but not enough to satisfy Tehran's demands
1:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Japan court orders compensation for kin of leprosy patients
A Japanese court has ordered the government to pay 370 million yen ($3.4 million) in damages to the relatives of former leprosy patients over a segregation policy that severed family ties and caused long-lasting prejudice
9:50AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Candidates make health care issue personal
Several Democratic presidential candidates are talking about the importance of health insurance in their personal lives as their family members were dying or they dealt with their own illnesses
9:40PM ( 17 hours ago )
Banks announce billions in share buybacks after Fed approval
Federal Reserve approves all capital plans for the nation's 18 largest banks, allowing big banks to increase their dividends and buy back more shares
6:00PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Vandy rides Rocker to 4-1 win, forces a Game 3 vs. Michigan
Vanderbilt rides Kumar Rocker to 4-1 win, forces a Game 3 against Michigan in College World Series finals
12:05AM ( 2 days ago )
Michigan beats Vandy 7-4; 1st title since '62 is 1 win away
Michigan beats Vanderbilt 7-4 to move within a win of first national title since 1962
11:58PM ( 3 days ago )
Longtime AP sports writer Ed Shearer dies at 82
Longtime Associated Press sports writer Ed Shearer has died at 82; covered Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series and Hank Aaron's 715th homer but best known as "SEC Seer"
6:12PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - College Baseball
Avowed white supremacist gets life sentence in car attack
An avowed white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia has been sentenced to life on hate crime charges
2:32PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Stocks indexes edge higher to finish off a wobbly week
Stocks are moving broadly higher on Wall Street as investors close out a wobbly week with an eye on U.S.-China trade talks
2:23PM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: EU hails new trade deal with Mercosur
The European Union is hailing its new trade deal with the Mercosur trade bloc as "an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive agreement" that sends a strong positive signal amid global trade tensions
2:22PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Supreme Court to rule on Trump bid to end 'dreamers' program
The Supreme Court will decide whether President Donald Trump can end an Obama-era program shielding young immigrants from deportation.
2:21PM ( 21 minutes ago )
GOP leader says Republicans will return to Oregon Senate
Republicans in the Oregon Senate say they'll end a more than weeklong walkout over climate legislation that ground the Legislature to a halt
2:20PM ( 22 minutes ago )