The World Series of Poker was a big deal long before poker became the game of regular folks and shows on the sports networks. It was traditionally held at Binion's in downtown Las Vegas, before the IRS took over the casino.
This year, the WSOP tour has been running at Harrah's properties around the country and the grand finale takes place today at 4 pm at the Rio. Cardplayer magazine delivers the final table action live. Final players and their chip counts are here. It won't be the bells and whistles you are used to on television. No chance of seeing those cards in real time. It will be streaming audio only. However, in addition to the live stream, there will be commentary by pro players. If you're interested in poker, it's not to be missed.
Entry fee into the championship is $10,000. That amount used to limit it to celebrities and professionals. Now much of the field consists of regular folks who have won their way in via satellites online. At one online outlet, winning a tournament with an entry fee of $315 got you a trip to the championship event, including hotel and the $10,000 entry fee. If there were enough players, the top 2-5 winners in a satellite would go. Better yet, you could play a $10 single table game, win your way into a $36 single table game, and win your way into the $315 event.
In 2003, Chris Moneymaker started at the $39 level and won his way to the top prize, then $2.5 million dollars. This year, countless others have tried to follow in his footstps, swelling the ranks of the tournament to over 5600 and the top prize to $7.5 million.
Alas, I am not one of the 5600 this year. I spent between $100 and $200 trying to win my way in, starting at the $10 tables. I got to the final satellite level twice, once placing as high as 38 out of a field of 400-500. Last year at this time, I was still playing limit games, afraid to even try no limit hold 'em, the game of the big event. So I have big dreams.
Checkraise is a regular poker column by Justene Adamec. It appears every other Friday.