WSOP Arrival: What to Watch in 2016

After many months of anticipation, the most historical and prestigious live poker series is finally getting underway in Las Vegas this week. The 47th year of the WSOP promises to be another exciting one, with 69 events scheduled to take place.


WSOP 2015

1) Main Event numbers

If you want to know how the health of poker is faring on a global level, one of the best indicators has always been the WSOP Main Event participation numbers. They exploded with the poker boom, more than trebling in 2004, and peaked in 2006 with 8,773. Since then, the number has mostly been between 6,000-7,000. The only exception being 2010, when over 7,300 showed up.

2) Collossus setting new records

When you talk about big fields and large numbers of participants, the “Collossus” event should certainly be part of the conversation. While still relatively new on the schedule, last year saw logistical hurdles everywhere as the WSOP tried to manage what was the largest live poker tournament in history. 22,374 players took part in the USD$565 buy in event, with USD$638,880 going to the winner. Officials are hopeful that this year will see faster registration queues and payment waiting times fall, as extra kiosks will be opened for the event. This year’s winner is guaranteed at least $1 million, adding to the excitement. We can expect to see six starting flights across a three day period, with a projected 30,000 player turnout.

3) Will the new events be a success?

The WSOP schedule has always been an evolving part of the series with each year, and 2016 will be no different. This year, a USD$565 PLO event has been added, along with a mixed Draw event, and even a team event, which was last seen at the WSOP in 1983. While some may say that WSOP events shouldn’t feature buy ins as small as $565 or poker should be an individual sport and not a team game, the WSOP is nothing if not bold in experimenting with events.

4) Urbanovich aims high with hat trick hopes

Dzmitry Urbanovich has certainly done nothing to dispel the stereotype of young online pros being overly confident when they step into the WSOP arena. Having turned 21 this month he is now eligible to play at the WSOP, and has promptly made a bet with Vanessa Selbst that he will win 3 bracelets in his first year. Urbanovich has already posted USD$5 million profit from live tournaments outside of the USA, and the Polish player who goes under the screen name “Colisea” online, has every reason to feel confident he will do well. Having said that, 3 bracelets is a huge target, and only a handful of players have ever accomplished that feat. He will win USD$2 million if he manages to achieve his ambition.


Dzmitry Urbanovich (Photo PokerStars)

5) Phil Hellmuth seeks number 15

With his critics continually hoping Hellmuth’s WSOP winning habit finally fades, the all time bracelet leader has taken great joy in proving them wrong for many years. Despite often seeming to lack emotional control and famously struggling at cash games, Hellmuth never fails to rise to the challenge of the WSOP. This is his domain, and he will be hunting bracelet number 15 this summer.

6) Phil Ivey back concentrating on the WSOP?

With legal troubles away from the tables in recent times, and his love for testing himself in cash games, it’s fair to say that Phil Ivey didn’t have his full attention on the WSOP last year. He arrived very late in the series and didn’t manage to add another bracelet to his tally of 10. The big question then, is after being distracted by high stakes cash games in Asia last time around, will he be ready to hit this WSOP with full force and close the gap on Hellmuth’s record bracelet haul? Fasten your seat belt folks – we’re about to find out.

Article by Craig B.

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