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WSOP takes center stage

Written by Ben Blaschke

It’s that time again. Every year, for close to half a century now, the eyes of the poker world have turned to Las Vegas in May for the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) – by far the planet’s richest and most prestigious poker tournament series.

Celebrating 49 years since it was first held at the old Horseshoe Casino in 1970, the 2018 WSOP will feature a massive 78 gold bracelet events, considered to be the ultimate prize in poker. Running for well over a month from 29 May through 17 July, this year’s series also brings with it a raft of intriguing changes and new tournament concepts to keep things fresh for professional and amateur players alike.

Last year saw one of the biggest changes of the past decade with the abolition of the November Nine, when the final nine players in the US$10,000 buy-in main event would traditionally take a three month break from late July through to early November before returning to play down to a winner.

Given just a single day’s break in 2017, the final table this year will have no break at all – with the main event starting on Monday 2 July and running daily until a winner is crowned on Saturday 14 July. For the eventual champion, that means at least eight consecutive days of play from the time the remaining players combine on Day 3 until the last card is dealt.

2018 will also see the return of the world’s biggest buy-in tournament – the US$1 million Big One for One Drop – from 15 to 17 July. Returning to Las Vegas for the first time in four years, this will be the fourth-ever edition of the tournament, with entries to be capped at 48 players and US$111,111 from each entry being donated to the One Drop Foundation. Antonio Esfandiari famously won the inaugural Big One for One Drop in 2012 for US$18.3 million.

The 2018 WSOP sees five events removed from the schedule and nine new events added. They are:

  • $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No-Limit Hold’em
  • $100,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em
  • $365 PLO Giant
  • $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em 1
  • $565 Online Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed
  • $1,500 Bounty Pot-Limit Omaha
  • $1,000 Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em 2
  • $1,500 The Closer No-Limit Hold’em (15,000 starting chips)
  • $50,000 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em

This year’s schedule includes events with buy-ins ranging from just US$365 to US$1 million. It is also set to break last year’s attendance record, when 120,995 entries competed for a combined US$231 million in prize money.