WSOP 2012 Preview

Posted by on Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Things are heating up in Las Vegas and that means it’s nearly poker players’ favourite time of year, World Series of Poker time. From May 29th until July 16th, the Rio Las Vegas will be awash with dreams of bracelet glory, the deafening chatter of riffling chips and a thousand bad beat stories.

All early signs point to numbers being solid and the ban on online poker in the US seems have done little to curb the enthusiasm for poker, with a record total number of entrants (75,672) turning up to play last year.

This time around, there’ll be a total of 61 bracelet events in everything from No Limit Holdem to Razz, with buy-ins ranging from $1,000 to $1,000,000. Highly regarded tournament director Jack Effel will once again take the reigns and preside over the chaos that is the WSOP.

New for the 2012 WSOP

There are a couple of interesting changes in store this year. The one that everyone is talking about is the introduction of the biggest buy-in poker tournament every played. The Big One for One Drop is a charity tournament which has been organised by Guy Laliberte with a staggering $1,000,000 buy-in of which 11.11% goes to the One Drop charity. This one has a cap of 48 players, each of whom will start with a 500 big blind stack. If the tournament reaches its cap, the winner is likely to eclipse Jamie Gold’s $12m and take away the biggest single prize in poker history. Lots of players have already expressed interest in playing, and it’s likely we’ll see Phil Hellmuth as well as Tom Dwan, Sam Trickett, Andrew Robl, Daniel Negreanu and other big stars fight it out for this one. One thing is for sure, whoever bubble’s this one won’t be happy!

Also new for 2012 is the $3,000 mixed No Limit Holdem/ Pot Limit Omaha heads-up event which gets going on May 29th and has a 512 player cap. 2012 also sees the introduction of re-entry events, where players can enter the tournament again if they get knocked out before the cut off point. This format is gaining popularity around the world and the WSOP have reacted by including it in the schedule.

Main Event

The 2012 $10,000 Main Event gets underway on the 7th of July with players given a 300 big blind starting stack and a two hour clock as normal, but there are a couple of changes in store. This year, there’ll only be three day 1’s. Then after day 1c, all remaining players from day 1a and day 1b will come back on July 10th (to separate tournament rooms) to play day 2a and 2b, and remaining players from day 1c will come back on July 11th to play day 2c. On day 3, July 12th, all remaining players will be combined in one tournament room and play will continue until July 16th when the tournament plays down to 9 players.

In a change from previous years, the November Nine is becoming the October Nine so as not to clash with the US Presidential Election. The final table will be played out from October 28th-30th. Whether 2012 can match the 6,865 entrant that Germany’s Pius Heinz bested to take home $8,715,638 for winning the Main Event last year remains to be seen, but expectations are that numbers might be down a touch.

ESPN Coverage

ESPN spoiled poker fans by offering several final tables with as-live coverage last year. They’re continuing their commitment to poker in 2012 with blanket coverage of the WSOP. They’ll be streaming EVERY final table live on the internet using a 6 camera setup with live commentary, and even have the ability to stream up to three final tables at once should several events clash. The Big One for One Drop final table will be streamed live WITH hole cards from 8 pm PST on Tuesday July 3rd.

The edited highlights package for 2012 featuring commentary from Lon McEachern and Norman Chad begins on July 31st with coverage of the One Drop tourney, and continues through the Summer on Tuesday nights until the final table is set. The final table will also be streamed on a 15 minute delay, with hole cards shown at the end of the hand, and the heads-up battle will go out live on ESPN 3 in the USA on October 30th. The as-live final table with hole cards was a huge hit with poker fans last year and the format is making a welcome return for this year.

Player of the Year

2011’s Player of the Year race was one of the most exciting since the award was brought in for the 2004 Series. Ben Lamb pipped Phil Hellmuth who finised in second place an agonizing three times over the course of the Summer. Lamb who won a bracelet and cashed for in excess of $5M last year is now one of the most feared players and in the game and could well see his name on the leader board again this year.

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