A Beginner’s Guide to the WSOP

June 7th, 2010  |  Published in Inrodution

In only a month, the world’s largest live poker tournament will begin again for the 41st time. Of course we’re talking about the World Series of Poker. The widespread (and growing) popularity of the game of poker is due in large part to the televising of this tournament over the last several years. From the series opener on May 28 through the final table of the Main Event in November, poker pros will be the biggest celebrities in Las Vegas, and thousands of poker fanatics will flock to the city in hopes not only of cheering their favorite players on but also in some cases of beating them to claim life-changing cash prizes. Find out what all the hype’s about with our beginner’s guide to the WSOP.

History

The very first World Series of Poker, hosted in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe, was little more than a friendly one-table competition between the United States’ greatest poker pros. The men that played at that first table – Johnny Moss, Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson – have long since become legends (though Brunson continues to compete).

The WSOP grew steadily over the next four decades but started to stagnate in the 90s when Binion’s financial troubles prevented the company from properly advertising the tournament. When an online qualifier – Chris Moneymaker – won the main event in 2003 it revolutionized the tournament by attracting a massive new amateur audience. The rapidly expanding field of players necessitated a move from the tournament’s original home at the Horseshoe to its current off-Strip location at the RIO casino.

Format

The tournament slowly grew from an exclusive invitational to a buy-in format. The tournament was first televised in 1973, and the international exposure helped the once-small affair to attract some of the world’s best players. The series has expanded over time to include dozens of different events, but the feature event is still a $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament. The Main Event transpires over several days of competition, and then when the field is finally narrowed down to the last nine players the game is stalled until November when the deciding hands are televised from a special table.

How to Play

Players may either qualify for WSOP events online via special satellite tournaments, or they may buy-in directly either via the WSOP’s official site or on-site at the actual WSOP tournament. Word to the wise though – the Main Event sold out early last year, leaving hundreds of latecomers disappointed.

Common WSOP Diversions

Not only is the WSOP the largest and most profitable poker tournament in the world, it’s also the most colorful. It’s not uncommon for some of the more eccentric players to make wild side bets (called prop bets) on everything from their own likelihood of winning to an opponent’s ability to do a standing back flip. One pro even played a vegetarian foe $10,000 to eat a hamburger.

Whether you’re watching at home, live, or from your own event seat don’t be surprised if you hear some trash talk. WSOP feuds are so common they’re pretty much expected, though floormen do their best to keep table talk PG for the cameras. These last few years the event has also attracted some showboating, like Phil Hellmuth’s memorable entrance to the 2009 Main Event when he dressed as Caesar and was carried in by a bevy of toga-clad servants.

Real celebrities are also a common feature at the WSOP, and some – like actress-turned-poker-pro Jennifer Tilly – have even taken titles.

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Five Ways to Learn More About Poker

April 30th, 2010  |  Published in Inrodution

Even the most experienced poker player knows the importance of staying on top of the game. The more you know about the game of poker, the better you will play. Even if you have the best strategy, you can always find a way to improve it, and an improved game means more winnings. Inspiration and knowledge can come from many sources in poker. To get the most out of your poker education, you need to turn over every stone you find.

Five Ways to Learn More About Poker

1. Autobiographies of the Poker Pros: You can learn a lot reading books written by Poker Professionals. Professionals have written dozens of books on poker strategy and styles that will help you in your own game. However, most of us overlook autobiographies. While most of the book may just be an interesting read, you can find some hidden poker gems between the pages.

2. Social Networking Sites: Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are taking over the internet. Almost everyone has a subscription, including professional poker players. Add some poker players to your social networking accounts. They often blurb about poker tournaments and their thoughts on the game. You can pick up great tips this way.

3. Casino Websites: Most every casino has their own websites highlighting their casino, promotions, and tournaments. Several casinos, especially those based online, go a step further and have included poker game tutorials and tips. Visit the sites of the popular casinos and look for their educational sections. There are often some really helpful tips in there.

4. Poker DVDs: Most of us do not think of poker when we are renting a movie, but several poker professionals have made educational films highlighting their game of choice. These DVDs can be a great resource as you can see the game in action.

5. Other Poker Players: How often do you study the other players at the poker table? If the answer is never, then you need to rethink your strategy. Other poker players can teach you a lot about betting style, table etiquette, and even the game itself. Watch your opponents closely during every game you play.

Poker education is a never ending cycle. To play your best, you have to stay on top of the game. Learn everything you can, in every way you can and you will be on top of your game.

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