The organsers of this year’s World Series of Poker promised a few surprises, and the first one was at the launch in the Brasilia Room at the Rio Tuesday. Executive director Ty Stewart asked rhetorically if the assembled players liked free money, then provided the answer as several loud explosions showered one dollar bills on the audience, causing a brief and not entirely dignified scramble for free cash.
Stewart later revealed that $10,000 was distributed in the stunt, which certainly went down well with the audience.
“This year we gotta be able to have fun,” said Stewart. “Bring a good vibe to this place. I think that did it.”
He added that there were further fun surprises in store, and each would be preceded by a hint.
The first event of this year’s spectacular is the $500 buy-in NLHE Casino Employees competition which this year attracted 876 entrants, creating a prize-pool of $394,200. Late evening Tuesday Vegas-time the field was down to 73 players and the money bubble had been breached, with Peter Alba holding a small chip lead on 111,000.
This year’s WSOP – the 45th edition of the prestigious 65-event epic – will reward the main event winner with over $10 million.
Overall the tournament is expected to pull in thousands of hopefuls to create a total prize pool of over $200 million – last year $197 million was paid out in prizes. The organisers are estimating that up to 80,000 players will participate this year across all events.
When it comes to demographics, the organisers say that 74 percent of this year’s players are from the United States, with 30 percent of those from Nevada and California. Players are overwhelmingly male (94 percent) and the average age is 38 years.