Lessons Learned at the 2010 WSOP

 

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With the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) nearly in the books, there are a few lessons we can take away from the prestigious tournament series. What trends did we notice this year? What can we take away? Read on to find out.

Bracelet Bets Have a Big Impact

I’ve never seen poker players ogle over bracelet bets as much as they have this year. It’s getting a little out of control. Pokerati reported that Phil Ivey and Howard Lederer entered into a $5 million bracelet bet, while Tao of Poker publicized that Tom “durrrr” Dwan can win up to $15 million. That’s $20 million combined between Ivey and Dwan, or $4 million more than the winners of the first 41 events combined. That’s quite dumbfounding if you think about it.

If you’re running a tournament series, bracelet bets are good for business. They encourage top pros to play in event after event to try to win bracelets, while they also cause increased interest. However, is it really worth it? Do bracelet bets simply detract from the experience of the WSOP? Should they be banned altogether, like prop bets were on the GSN cash game franchise “High Stakes Poker”? Do your tournaments lose value if they’re overshadowed by ongoing bracelet bets?

Year of the Brit

Through the first 41 events, British poker players have captured five bracelets, as Steve Jelinek, Praz Bansi, James Dempsey, Richard Ashby, and Mike Ellis have all taken down hardware. U.K. poker pros seem to be making a name for themselves this year more than in past cycles of the WSOP. Perhaps the waning poker economy in the United States and still blossoming scene in the U.K. are finally on equal footing.

Twenty-seven bracelets have been awarded to U.S. players, while the U.K. sports the second most of any country at five. Canadians have taken down four bracelets through 41 events, Hungarians have captured two, New Zealanders have won one, Frenchmen have won one, and Russians have won one. By the way, 28 out of the first 41 bracelets awarded were to pros, or a commanding 68%. Ten out of the 41 were repeat winners.

Evidence of Decline

Although attendance has been up at the WSOP this year, the total prize pool has remained relatively flat. With six open $1,000 No Limit Hold’em events on the docket drawing players en masse, it’s no surprise that the total tournament attendance has increased. However, what happened to the poker boom? You can thank a crackdown on internet gambling in the United States for that. With fewer and fewer online qualifiers heading to Las Vegas, the modern poker boom may officially be coming to an end.

Take a look at the difference between tournament series like the World Poker Tour (WPT) and PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tour (NAPT). Due to its affiliation with PokerStars, the latter featured massive fields in stops at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and the Venetian in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the WPT has slashed buy-ins for the coming 2010-2011 season due to a lack of entrants. The fewer online qualifiers there are to the WPT, WSOP, NAPT, and other live tournament series, the worse the future of the poker industry will be.

Year of Redemption

Analysts like ESPN’s Bernard Lee are labeling 2010 the Year of Redemption. Bansi took down his second WSOP bracelet after coming close to winning last year’s WSOP Europe Main Event. 2008 November Niner Scott Montgomery captured his first bracelet after a fifth place run in the Main Event two years ago. Sammy Farha, the man best known for finishing as the runner-up in the 2003 WSOP Main Event, took down bracelet #3. Finally, last year’s November Nine member Eric Buchman brought home his first bracelet. 2010 has truly been the Year of Redemption for many pros.

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