With the individual World Series of Poker tournaments for 2008 now drawing to a close, interest in the Main Event and the support it garners this year is increasing. The key question is how the television-inspired delay until November 9 of the Main Event final table will impact public interest.
A combined $111 million was up for grabs through 55 events in this year's 39th World Series of Poker, with professional poker players winning roughly seven of every 10 contests. Nine of the events, including the Main Event, carried $10 000 buy-ins, and one tournament, the rotating H.O.R.S.E. World Championship, had a hefty buy-in of $50 000 but nevertheless attracted a star-studded field of 148 players.
The Main Event is the one that grabs the mainstream headlines, when an original entry field of several thousands of Internet and land players (8 773 in 2006 and 6 358 in 2007) battles it out for one of the nine final table seats and a crack at the really big money.
Last year's main prize was worth $8.23 million (down from $12 million the year prior) and late registrations mean that this year's bonanza has still to be calculated and announced by the organisers, Harrah's Entertainment.
The action, at the Rio in Las Vegas, will probably be spread over some 11 days, reaching the final 9 survivors around mid-July, and in the process delivering cash rewards of various sizes to some 10 percent of the original entrants.
The general format of the Main Event has remained largely unchanged since 1972 and features no-limit Texas Hold'em – the most popular form of the game. The entry field will read like a who's who of poker, along with thousands of ordinary poker lovers who have either staked themselves or won Internet or other sponsorships.
Last year's winner was California psychologist Jerry Yang – who will it be this year? We'll have to wait until November 2008 to find out
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