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2014 WSOP Moving On Up

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Looking over the vast amount of data from the recently completed World Series of Poker reveals a few trends that point to a bright future for the world's favorite game, poker.  When you hold a poker tournament and 82,360 players from 107 countries pay buy-ins into 65 events that offer a collective $225,584,873 in prize money it's easy to see the popularity of poker.

I can trace my poker roots all the way back to Texas in the 1860's as a result of one of my distant grandfather's many documented arrest records for playing poker, owning a house where poker was being played and even one charge of accepting a challenge to a dual.  In my lifetime I've watched poker move from the smokey game rooms within one of my many uncle's East Texas homes to the world stage at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino before the cameras of the world's foremost sports network, ESPN.   

Even through the minefields of legal challenges, the moral 'right' roadblocks, cheating scandals at both the individual and corporate level and the fallout of Black Friday, poker is very much alive and well.  And for the past 45years a grand celebration is held every summer and it is called, The World Series of Poker.

For those that question the current and future state of the sport and believe the card game will eventual burn out and once again be demoted to the dingy backrooms where old men meet to tell lies and cheat read the following quote from Ty Stewart.  Mr. Stewart is the Executive Director of WSOP Poker.

“We’re humbled to have seen this kind of response to our 10th series at the Rio.  More than ever before, we embraced the challenge to have something for everyone who loves the game. With some of the biggest events ever organized it is clear poker remains strong and its best days are ahead. We can’t wait to start planning for next year.”

For the tenth consecutive year, the WSOP generated a total prize pool well in excess of $100 million, and for only the second time in its history, topped the $200 million mark.”

Additionally, in the 45 year history of the World Series of Poker more than $2 billion in prize money has been awarded to players and more than a billion of this total has come in the past 6 years.  Still a doubter of the health of poker?

The WSOP is the barometer for poker and its health and growth sustainability.  All the facts support what most all of the world's poker players have been saying for years.  “Spread it and we'll come.”  Next time you sit down to enjoy a game of poker give thanks to those that keep the game on the path to   continued success.

From a humble beginning of 8 players participating in one event with a total prize pool of $80,000 we have progressed all the way to 82,360 players participating in 65 events for a total prize pool of $62,820,873.  From where I have sat watching the action over the years this is proof positive that we're going to see the sport of poker just get bigger and better regardless of the political winds that often try to blow down the house.

And I often wonder what that grandfather of mine from more than a century and a half ago would think if I walked into the Rio with him?  Probably he would be drooling with the excitement of anticipation when he would tell me, “Get me a seat Sonny Boy, times a'wasting.”

We've included a vintage photo from our archive of WSOP photos.  This image demonstrates the incredible changes that Caesars Entertainment has brought to the famous poker tournament.  The year was 2004.  The place was Benny's Bullpen at Binion's Horseshoe, downtown Las Vegas.  The two players were a very young David Williams and attorney Greg Raymer, both relative unknowns in the poker world.  They are playing heads-up in the WSOP Main Event and only minutes away from Greg Raymer claiming the title.

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