What's the Big Deal About the WSOP?
Bill Rini had an interesting post up earlier this week about the World Series of Poker, and why it is such a Big Huge Deal in the poker world. Although the whole post is definitely worth a read, I have duped below Rini's essential point from his very entertaining post:
"That being said, this time of year seems so contrived to me. You have about two months of journalists/bloggers, PR people, poker rooms, etc, all trying to make something out of what is usually nothing. Day after day everyone has to come up with some reason to make it seem as if something exciting is going on regardless of the lack of anything exciting actually going on....
The biggest online poker rooms pay out a bigger prize every Sunday than some of the WSOP events. While I’m quick to give a congrats to winners, is anybody really impressed if you won the $1000 buy-in hold’em event? Will anybody remember your name the next day? Yet, nearly the entire poker journalism/blogging world is there covering every boring detail."
It's all true, isn't it? So they why is the World Series of Poker such a Big Huge Deal?
I've spent much of this past week pondering this very question since reading Bill's post. And I think I have my answer.
It's the Legends.
The Legends are the ones who tell me the WSOP is so special. It's Doyle Brunson dedicating entire sections, entire chapters even, in Super/System to Jack and Benny Binion and the legend of the WSOP. It's Phil Hellmuth writing page after page about how winning WSOP bracelets is the end-all be-all for a poker tournament player. It's Ivey and Deeb and Lederer and Seidel and Farha and Chan and all the others in the poker world who focus on the number of bracelets each player has. It is those things that, for me, make the World Series of Poker what it is.
In addition, with the proliferation of poker on television, on podcasts, on YouTube, etc. as compared to, say, ten years ago, and with all of these WSOP events essentially being "open" events where anyone can go and play if you're willing to plunk down the buyin, there is in many ways more direct access to the legends and the big-name pros in this sport than in any other. Which itself makes the whole WSOP thing kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, because all the big pros and the legends play in the WSOP because they all think of it as the end-all be-all, and then if I want a chance to go to a poker venue and see, interact with, meet and maybe even play with all those same pros that I know and love from tv, then going to the WSOP takes on special significance for me as well because that's the one place all year where I can go to meet all of them.
And let's not forget the side games, which any of those legends above in addition to pretty much all the pros on the circuit today will tell you is where the real, consistent money is during WSOP time. It's basically 6 weeks out of every year when more or less every donkey in America -- in the world, really -- descends upon the same city, and puts their (sometimes) hard-earned cash on the line. I have zero doubt that there is more poker "dead money" -- both in cash, and in tournaments -- in Las Vegas during these six weeks than there is in any other city anywhere else in the world, at any time, ever. Period.
So the legends are the ones who have told me that the World Series of Poker is what it's all about. That's what makes the whole WSOP thing such an attraction for many students of the game, aspiring pros, tournament wannabes still looking for their first big big score, and cash gamers looking to test their mettle against the best players around at their level. And that's what originally got me to want to go out to Las Vegas during Series time in the first place myself. But along with that is the attraction of knowing that you can see all of those people you love to watch on tv, live and in the flesh, in the Amazon Room. Shit, they can even sit at your table and play live against you. It's unheard of access to someone who in many of our minds is already a bit of a "legend", and that also adds to the allure of heading to Sin City during this period every summer. And lastly, -- and I am as good an example of this as anybody -- the skill players know that, due to the crowds who are drawn to Vegas every summer to be there during WSOP times, there is simply no better opportunity in the world at any other time of year to make money from all the fish and the monkeys who you will run into in the various card rooms all over the city, be it a WSOP tournament at the Rio, the Deep Stack at the Venetian, the daily MGM morning no-limit tournament, or the Bellagio for cash games, etc. After my last few years in the desert around this time of year, I am more convinced than ever that Las Vegas during the WSOP is the mecca of poker profits for a seasoned poker veteran with a couple million hands of experience and a desire to leave town with more money than he or she started with.
So that's my answer. Why do you think the WSOP is such a big deal?