The World Series of Poker draws world’s hopefuls to the Rio
By Susan Stapleton
The click, click, click of poker chips serves as a siren call to the thousands of poker players who converge on the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino with one goal in mind—winning the coveted World Series of Poker Main Event bracelet and the millions of dollars in prizes that come with it.
The 43rd annual World Series of Poker is officially under way, with a total of 61 gold bracelets available. Last year, Pius Heinz from Cologne, Germany, won it all, $8,715,638, defeating Czech player Martin Staszko to win the event. On the final hand, Heinz pulled an ace of spades and a king of clubs to win on a Texas hold ’em game that didn’t improve on the draw.
Every variation of poker is available in the tournament that runs through July 16. This year ushers in 92 more poker tables, adding up to 470 total during the summer (378 were used last year). “This year’s WSOP schedule is very exciting,” says Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director for the past seven years. “We’re introducing some fantastic new events, while bringing back many successful stalwarts that the players love.”
The Chip Reese Memorial Trophy in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship is at stake in the eight-game format, which starts at 5 p.m. June 24. July 4 and 5 gives gamblers a shot at a $1,000 buy-in, no-limit hold ’em tournament, a tease to the start of the Main Event.
The $10,000 No-Limit Hold ’em Championship, known as The Main Event, kicks off on Saturday, July 7, to pare down participants to a final table of nine players on Monday, July 16. Then play halts to resume in October. Those nine players compete down to two on Sunday, Oct. 28, and end with heads-up play on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Some new events include the $1,500 Ante Only No-Limit Hold ’em at noon on June 27. And the $1 million buy-in, dubbed The Big One for One Drop at 1:11 p.m. on July 1, features the first time players have to come up with up a cool million to play. The three-day event, most likely leading to what might be poker’s largest first-place prize, donates 11.1 percent from each player’s buy-in to support onedrop.org. The $560 Doubles No-Limit Hold ’em lets players partner up and work together to win on June 30 at 10 a.m.
Last year, the WSOP featured 75,672 entrants. Players from 105 nations competed for more than $192 million and 58 championship gold bracelets. Since anyone can potentially win a gold bracelet, check WSOP.com for a full list of opportunities.
Not everyone can appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and place in the money four times in one World Series of Poker, but that’s what Vanessa Rousso did three years ago. Now one of the top earners in women’s poker history is poised to make another run at bracelet glory. She shared some thoughts on the game with Las Vegas Magazine.
What was your mind-set coming into the 2012 World Series of Poker?
For the first time in my life, I came into the WSOP with a mind-set of prioritized balance over the urge to just put the pedal to the metal and gun for a bracelet. Probably because I was recently divorced, this year was about playing just as hard as I intended to work—and that was new for me!
How did you become interested in poker?
My dad taught me how to play when I was 5 years old. Poker has always been one of my favorite pastimes, and once I began to study it while I was an undergraduate game theory student at Duke, poker emerged as a potential source of income as well!
What’s your take on females-only events such as the Ladies No-Limit Hold ‘Em Championship on June 29?
I’m not one of those players that gets all up in arms about ladies events. I’m a laissez-faire kind of person. So even though I often opt out of playing ladies events (to play higher buy-in events that occur at competing times), I still respect the fact that for other players those events are important. I’m not sure yet if I will play the ladies event this year; I guess it depends on what other events occur that day.