Record Breaking Year for the WSOP

July 11, 2014

This year’s WSOP will go down in history as the biggest in history, with a record 82,360 participants and amassing the biggest total prize pool yet, $227,712,923. Spanning 65 events, registrants represented 107 countries, with an all-time participation high, surpassing last year’s 79,471 by 3.6%, with the Main Event alone drawing in 6,683 players and a prize pool worth $62,829,200. The winner of the final event for this year will win $10,000,000. This was the fifth-largest Main Event in the history of the series, drawing the largest number of players since 2010.

“There is only one WSOP,” said Ty Stewart, World Series of Poker Executive Director. “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.”

This will be the tenth year in a row that the series has generated more than $100 million, but only the second time in the history of the WSOP that it has gone over $200 million. Since it began 45 years ago, more than $2 billion has been paid out in winnings, $1 billion of that paid out in the past five years. The prize pool this year surpassed 2013 by 15.5%!

In addition, the WSOP has raised more than $5 million for charity for the second time in the past three years, contributing $5.2 million to ONE DROP, an organization that supports water access projects around the world. Players have the opportunity to donate 1% of their winnings to ONE DROP on top of the two specific events that support the cause. Since the partnership between the WSOP and ONE DROP began in 2012, more than $12 million has been donated, directly impacting more than 100,000 lives worldwide.

Zachary Zaffos from Florida was the youngest player to participate this year, turning 21 one day before he played in Day 1-C of the Main Event. On the other end of the spectrum was William Wachter from New York, who is 93 years young and played in Day 1-B of the Main Event. Wachter was the oldest player last year, as well. Poker Hall of Famer Henry Orenstein finished eighth in Event #60, becoming the oldest person at 90 years old to cash in this year’s series.

The US represented the largest number of players with 78,165 and all 50 states were present, while Canada was the second most represented with 6,045 players. The UK had 2,894 involved, while France, German, Russia, and Brazil, all had more than 1,000 players participate in this year’s WSOP. Italy, Austria, and Australia rounded out the bottom of the top 10 entries by country list.

Out of the 64 bracelets awarded, the US landed 52 of those—the most in history.

The Big One for One Drop: Daniel Vs. Daniel

July 2, 2014

WSOP reporters refer to it as a “David and Goliath story,” which is so very fitting, to say the least. It could also be called “Daniels in the Lion’s Den,” as the final play came down to Daniel against Daniel. There are only a handful of other players that could have made The Big One for One Drop any more dramatic. The stage for the final table of the one and only $1 million buy-in tournament, Event #57 of the 2014 WSOP was set up with Daniel Negreanu on one side and Daniel Colman on the other. Behind Negreanu was a huge congregation of fans and supporters on the rail, as well as more poker experience than anyone else might ever catch up to. Behind 23-year-old young gun, Colman, was a strapping online poker career and apparently the skills to best the best.

This was Colman’s first final table appearance at a WSOP event, so the pressure was on for the $15+million prize and the platinum gold bracelet, which ultimately went to Colman after a highly honorable heads-up showdown. This ups his all-time money list exponentially, as previously he had only just under $160K in WSOP cash outs. However, Negreanu is not without title because after a second-place payout worth more than $8.2 million, Negreanu is now the world’s biggest all-time money winner with more than $40 million in career tourney earnings, surpassing previous all-timer and 2012 Big One for One Drop champion, Antonio Esfandiari.

Day 2 seemed to drag out, but by Day 3, a winner would submerge. Nine players sat at the final table, only two of which had won WSOP titles before. Scott Seiver, who finished in sixth place with $1.6 million in earnings, had one prior bracelet win, while Negreanu had six, hoping to land a seventh by the time it was down to two-handed play, but it only took 118 hands to determine the winner. Unfortunately Tom Hall would bust out in ninth place, the only one not receiving a come up on this tournament, as the Big One for One Drop prize pool only paid the top 8. Hall had been second-to-chip leader by the end of Day 2, trailed only by Esfandiari.

This year’s event attracted 42 players and amassed more than $37 million in prize pool funds and $4.6 million going to the One Drop  charity. To add to that donation, US residents may text ONEDROP to 20222 and donate $10 to the charity in honor of this epic event. More than $11 million has been raised for One Drop since the WSOP partnered with the charity three years ago. It’s hard to envision the actual impact that has had on the world, but it’s even harder to imagine the impact that would not have been if it weren’t for the visionary and generous genius of Guy Lalibertè, whose idea for a massive charitable tournament that would be the biggest ever in the world, made all of this possible. And it’s not just the money, but global awareness of this charity that will be enlarged due to television broadcasts of the event, as well as buzz in the poker community both live and online.

As always, there was much speculation about who would participate in this event this year. In hindsight, the WSOP has released the following stats.

Of the 42 registrants, 30 were pros, while 12 were recreational players or amateurs. Eighteen players were repeat participants from the 2012 event; 24 were new to the event. Fifteen participants were bracelet winners, while there was only one Poker Hall of Fame member, Erik Seidel and one WSOP Main Event Champion, Greg Merson. Five of the eight final table players from 2012 were return players (Phil Hellmuth, Bobby Baldwin, and Richard Yong from the 2012 final table did not participate this year).

Andrew Rennhack Takes a Bracelet

July 2, 2014

Last year, Seattle, Washington’s semi-pro Andrew Rennhack was named the Player of the Series for the Carnivale of Poker. He said, “Winning the Carnivale Best-All Around was nice, but that wasn’t my goal when I came out here last year. I came out here to win the gold bracelet. I had to wait an extra year, but I guess it was all worth it.”

While Carnivale of Poker did not return, Rennhack did, and like he said, it was well worth it.

Rennhack won Event #26 $1,500 NLH and more than $400K for his efforts, not to mention a gold bracelet.

The final table was tough, but Rennhack managed to out play runner up and Cali-based pro Michael Katz. By day, Rennhack owns and operates an ATM business, so this nice prize is just icing on the cake.

“I think [not being a pro] gave me some advantage,” he explained. ”I think some of the other players tightened up at the final table. They may have been thinking about the pay jumps, whereas I was just playing it one hand at a time. You just have to play one hand at a time and make the decisions that way….that’s the way to think about it.”

This is Rennhack’s fifth WSOP cash, but his first final table. Last year, Rennhack cashed out of a $365 HORSE tourney with just shy of $18,500. What a difference a year can make.

By his side were other Vegas-based pros and comrades, including Tony Gargano, Dan Smith, and Ryan Welch, as well as Katz.

For a stint, it looked like Welch, the only bracelet winner at the table, would be the victor with a sizeable chip lead, but he was ultimately out in fourth place, Gargano ended in third.

This event attracted 1,594 players, who amassed a prize pool of more than $2 million, which paid the first 171 players to finish the tournament. Phil Hellmuth was out in 29th place, and Brandon Cantu lasted to 98th.