Starting today the World Series of Poker celebrates the 40th anniversary of the biggest event in poker. Cash games and satellites begin shortly at the Rio here in Las Vegas. Like most of my media buddies I am semi-happy to be onsite for the big show again. Only semi-happy because it can be a long six weeks, particularly for those who do anything approaching live tournament reporting. Following all or most of the 57 events can quickly become a blur of cards, chips and players. On the other hand, there will surely be some outrageous moments that will only be captured by a poker writer being in the right spot at the right time. That is what makes following the Series so interesting for me. For true poker nuts, here is an article from the 2006 WSOP when I was the sole media witness to 101,000 chips being added to a tournament.
There is also the chance of being the chronicle to poker history, a new main event hero, an established pro making a comeback or finally winning their first bracelet. And, of course, there are the blow-ups, melt-downs and other deviations from the politically correct blandness the additional rules each year are creating. (Speaking the word "idiot" or "idiots" is a penalty this year). By the way before a long time reader seeks to call me out: there is such a thing as "poker history", I admit that. My long term position is that anything that happens during a poker tournament is not per se "history" nor history-making. But in the small "h" backwater, lower drawer footnote; it is poker history. My personal rant on the topic can be found here.
Meandering on. Thursday is the $40,000 anniversary event at the World Series. Interestingly the scuttlebutt among the professional players is that the field will be "at least 250" players. Many think it will be much larger. In contrast to the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament later in the Series, the 40K is no limit hold'em and it appears everyone intends to take a shot at this prize. But I have to wonder if a forty thousand dollar swing-and-a-miss is not going to send some internet wiz kids home for the duration, not to mention how many backers are going to balk at tossing 40K up front in what will inevitably be a very long summer for some established pros. The promotional glitz of having this anniversary event might be outweighed by the economic realities of the World Series of Poker 2009.
Just another question we will get some answers to as the summer plays on. It is now just a couple of hours until someone quietly whispers: "shuffle up and deal".