On July 18th the curtain came down on the World Series of Poker – not the final, final curtain because there’s a certain nine player main event playoff to look forward too in a couple of months, but more of that a little later.
So, to go back to the beginning, one of the biggest things that the WSOP 2016 has taught us is that poker is becoming more and more popular. The 107,833 entrants from countries all round the world have shown us that – only the second time that this has topped the 100,000 mark. It’s also a marker showing just how far we’ve come since the tournament started in 1970 when just seven players came at the invitation of mob boss and gambling legend Benny Binion and played for no more than the glory of winning. This year the total prize pot was an astonishing $221,211,336.
So what else have we learnt from this year’s tournament?
Well for one thing it’s been a record-breaking year in so many ways – there were 15,767 players who scooped cash prizes and the average first prize pot was $555,475. Ben Keeline also broke the record for the biggest single prize in a $500 dollar buy-in event with the $1 million he pocketed in the hotly contested Colossus II event
Roland Israelashvili led the way in the number of cashes with a very impressive 13 and no less than three players reached $5 million in career WSOP winnings Brian Rast, Fedor Holz and and Dan Smith with both Holz and Rast picking up coveted bracelets along the way. The tenth person in the history of the WSOP to reach a total of $10 million in World Series winnings was Joe Cada.
Women players also enjoyed much deserved success this year with two notable examples being Natasha Barbour and Lisa Meredith. The former had already come third in the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event taking home a handsome $348,374 when her boyfriend Jason Mercier, this year’s Player of the Year, went down on one knee and asked her to marry him surrounded by cheering players. Meredith, a teacher from Oregon, enjoyed a big result at her first tournament winning $500,000 in the $1,500 Buy-In Millionaire Maker.
One of the biggest stories however, is the rise of the satellite entrants. With both Fernando Pons and Griffin Benger making it through to the November Nine via the 888Poker WSOP Main Event qualifier. A huge step up from the 44th achieved by Ghattas Kortas in 2015, and something everyone hopes can be replicated next year. With satellites offering a great opportunity to make the game more accessible to any entrant it allows amateurs to really feel part of the poker community.
So now all eyes are on the clash between the nine players who have made it through to the Main Event final table. Led by Cliff Josephy with 74.6 million chips and Qui Nguyen with 67.925 million it promises to be an intriguing event that runs between October 30th and November 1st in the Penn and Teller Theatre in the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino.
As for next year’s WSOP interest is already running high – and who knows, maybe we could be writing about you this time next year.