50th Annual World Series of Poker Underway

In 1970, Benny Binion organized the very first World Series of Poker, which, believe it or not, was not a series of poker tournaments (BELIEVE IT). Instead, the first WSOP consisted of a number of cash games like hold’em, razz, and both five- and seven-card stud. It was an invitational with only a dozen-ish poker legends in attendance. After three days of essentially non-stop poker (players could come and go as they pleased), the players were asked to vote for the best all-around player. Of course, they all voted for themselves, so a second vote was held in which players had to vote for someone else. Johnny Moss garnered the most votes and become the inaugural World Series of Poker champion. Things have come a long way since then and today marks the opening of the 50th annual World Series of Poker, the 49th of which where the champion will be decided by a freezeout tournament.

2018 WSOP Main Event Champion John Cynn
Photo credit: WSOP.com

There are 89 events in the 2019 World Series of Poker, nine of which will be contested online. I am not about to list every single event here, as even though that will up my word count nicely, it’s a gigantic pain in the ass, but let’s start with what most people are interested in the most: the $10,000 Main Event.

The Main Event, as has been the case for several years now, will have three starting flights, one each on July 3rd, July 4th, and July 5th. Days 2A and 2B will both be held on July 6th, though each “day” will be separate; it’s the same as having Day 2A on one day and Day 2B on another, except that they are in the same building on the same day. Get it? I explained that poorly. Just know that players will only compete against people in their same flight on July 6th. The survivors from Day 1C will all play on July 7th in Day 2C. After that, everyone who makes it through will be combined in the same field.

The nine-handed final table will be determined on July 12th (Day 7 if you are scoring at home). There will be a one-day break so that players can be interviewed and filmed to death and then the final table will commence on July 14th. When six players remaining, play will stop and then the tournament will play down to three players on July 15th. July 16th will be the day (or the morning of July 17th, as it often goes) when the champion is crowned.

That was verbose. I probably could have just directed you to WSOP.com.

There are two tournaments that begin today: $500 Casino Employees Event and the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty Event. The former is a three-day tournament and the latter a two-day tournament.

Tomorrow is the opening flight of a special event for the 50th World Series of Poker, the $500 Big 50 tourney. It is clearly cheap as far as WSOP events go and comes with a $5 million guaranteed prize pool. There are four starting flights; players are allowed one re-entry per flight and the first entry is rake-free. This is the spot in the schedule where we have seen the Colossus the last few years; the Colossus still exists, it has just been moved to make way for the Big 50.

In an attempt to reach more poker players, the WSOP added six “low” buy-in events this year, four with $600 buy-ins and two with $800 buy-ins. All use the deep-stack format and most are no-limit hold’em games. One is pot-limit Omaha and another is mixed no-limit hold’em /pot-limit Omaha.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 20 events with price tags of at least $10,000, including the annual $50,000 Poker Players Championship. One interesting addition to the schedule is Event #8: $10,000 Short Deck No-Limit Hold’em. Short Deck is the World Series of Poker’s term for what a lot of poker players know as 6+ Hold’em, a game which has started to become more popular online. In Short Deck Hold’em, all cards Five and below (not to be confused with the store my kids love called Five Below) are removed from the deck. This creates more action as the distribution of cards is narrowed and also changes the probabilities of hands. As such, a flush ranks higher than a full house and a three-of-a-kind ranks higher than a straight.

In addition to the continuation of today’s events, the events on tap for tomorrow on the first flight of the Big 50 and $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better.

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