The World Series of Poker, a tournament which began over 50 years ago has certainly evolved from its roots. When Johnny Moss won the first play of the tournament back in 1970 at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas, it was set to the backdrop of gangsters, drugs and fisticuffs. Now fast forward to the modern day and hundreds of thousands tune in year after year to watch as the best players in the world battle it out to take home a share of the prize money, in a show of ultimate glitz and glamor.
The World Series Of Poker hasn’t been played since 2019, when Iranian-German Hossein Ensan took home the mammoth prize of $10m in the main event at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The reason for the absence of the event of course is the global pandemic, but this fall sees the return of the tournament once again at the Rio resort in the entertainment capital of the world.
There are eight forms of poker played at the tournament from Omaha to its most popular incarnation, Texas Hold’em. For those who may need a refresher, no-limit Texas Hold’em poker is a game in which players are dealt two cards face down and then five community cards are dealt for all to see in three stages known as the flop, the turn and the river. Each player then seeks the best five card poker hand from any combination of the seven cards. The player with the best hand wins, but that’s if they haven’t folded under the pressure of the bets placed or the bluffs played by their opponents.
There are a number of top players vying for this year’s title of 52nd World Series of Poker Champion. Along with the excitement of the players there are thousands of fans expected to flock to the event. It has to be said that with the enforced two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s edition of the tournament is one of the most hotly anticipated. Going into the event there are a few names to look out for as this year's tournament promises to be a classic with all the players excited to get back to the table.
One of the frontrunners for the Main Event title is Stephen Chidwick. The 32-year-old from the United Kingdom is in hot form heading into the tournament which takes place from September 30th through to November 23rd. Chidwick recently won the 2021 Poker Masters and it’s $183,000 first prize ahead of Vegas resident, Dan Smith who could only finish 5th. Smith who has been previously ranked as the top player in the world is yet to take home the title but is well placed to break that duck this year.
Dan Negreanu is another name who is always never far from the top table, ‘Kid Poker’ has six World Series titles to his name, and is 3rd on the all-time money list. The 2021 PokerGo cup winner is one of the most recognized players in the world which even led to him appearing on the silver screen and beyond. Making cameo appearances in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as well as the video for the Katy Perry music video, Waking Up in Vegas.
From smokey casinos in the 70s to its neon shadowed high rolling current day setting, it's quite the juxtaposition. But one thing hasn't changed, the game. Whilst having somewhat underground roots the World Series of Poker has an innate charm, it's an event which rightly stands out as one of the most entertaining and intriguing in the world