Q&A: Counting Down to WSOP’s Main Event
It’s that time of year, poker fans—the countdown to the 48th annual World Series of Poker. Tuesday, May 30 will kick off more than 40 days and nights of near-continuous play, all leading to the Main Event, Monday, July 17, in the neon paradise of Las Vegas.
This is the ultimate in poker tourneys: big, rich and wall-to-wall with the best pro-am players in the world. Lucky for you, the WSOP is very democratic. It boasts a something-for-everyone schedule that includes gold bracelets, satellites, cash games and deep-stack tournaments where almost everyone has a chance to get in the game.
The climactic finish, to be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, will include almost 500 tables in 100,000 square feet of gaming space. Each table will be jammed, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the best players around, until the final nine face off for the championship, the prestigious bracelet, and a jackpot potentially worth millions.
For more about the games, we spoke to Bill Rini, head of online poker at WSOP.com and author of Bill Rini’s Poker Blog (billrini.com).
sportsquare.com: How can people qualify online to get into the World Series of Poker?
Rini: Players simply need to log in and register for any of our WSOP satellites. We even have chances to win a seat into the WSOP for free. Satellites run 24/7 with our sit-and-goes. We also have regular tournaments that are currently running a few times a week but will be daily starting in June.
How many players could win seats online this year?
This year we should be on track to award over 1,000 seats to everything from the Colossus (a $565 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament with a guaranteed $1 million first-place prize) to the Main Event.
What’s the range of buy-ins?
We have everything from free rolls to buy-ins of several hundred dollars. Some tournaments award straight cash with buy-ins ranging from $1 all the way up to our online bracelet event, which has a $3,333 buy-in.
Is playing online harder or easier than playing on-site?
There are certainly differences between playing online and playing live. I can’t say one is easier or harder, because many online players have to make certain transitions when playing live, and players used to playing live also need to adapt.
It’s sort of like the difference between driving on the right- or left-hand side of the road. If you’re used to driving on the right, driving on the left usually requires you to pay a lot more attention and make adjustments to things that are usually second nature, like which way to look when making a turn.
Is one harder or easier than the other? Not really. It’s just learning to make the adjustments.
Do a lot of poker celebrities play on your site?
Though many prefer not to reveal who they are in real life, I can think of at least several Main Event champions and at least one Poker Hall of Famer who play on the site. That’s in addition to players who have won bracelets in other WSOP events or are well-known poker celebrities.
What are your most popular online tournaments/games?
In terms of sheer numbers, the freerolls and lower buy-in tournaments get the most players. But in terms of buzz and excitement in the poker community, I’d say a lot of players are focused on our three online bracelet events where you can win a WSOP bracelet without even leaving your home.
With $333, $1,000, and $3,333 buy-ins and a chance to win one of the most coveted prizes in poker—a WSOP bracelet—we appeal to players with bankrolls from small to large.
What makes a great poker player?
If I had to pick one quality that stands out, it’s discipline.
There are a lot of good players out there, but to become great, you have to decide to become a great player, have a plan, and work hard through the ups and downs of the game. It’s about being able to shrug off your opponent hitting the only card in the deck that could beat you, while not being blind to the mistakes you make when your luck is running good and you’re hitting those miracle cards.
Is there an online version of a poker tell?
Depends on who you ask. Personally, I think any tell that someone might have is so inconsistent and easy to turn into a false tell, it’s difficult to put too much credence in them.
What are the senior specials? Are there other specials?
Senior specials are promotions we offer specifically to players who are 50 years of age or older. At the WSOP, one of the biggest events every summer is the senior event. We wanted to create something online that allows people to play against others in their own age group.
We also have Hero tournaments, which we limit to active-duty and retired military, vets and first responders (paramedics, police and firefighters). We wanted to recognize them for what they do for us every day.
Is a million-dollar win in the cards for you? Get started at WSOP.com, where you’ll find a full slate of events, players, ongoing live coverage and poker tips.