With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table now set, here are some facts, figures, stats and trivia about the 2008 WSOP:
EIGHT MEN OUT–The WSOP Main Event final table, made up of nine players, is scheduled to resume play on November 9, 2008, and play down to just two players by the end of the day. The next day, November 10, 2008, the two remaining players are scheduled to play head-to-head until one player is left. =A0 NINE ARE NINTH–Since there are nine players left in the WSOP Main Event, all nine are guaranteed of finishing in at least ninth place in the event. So the WSOP has already paid all nine ninth-place money, which is a not-too-shabby $900,670 each, or a total of about $8 million. That leaves a total of about $24 million left to be divvied up, depending on how far the nine finalists progress in the event. The Main Event winner is to get just over $9 million total. So where’s the $24 mill now? The WSOP has it in an interest-bearing financial account, where it will accumulate interest over the 117-day break. The money earned in interest will be added to the existing prize pool, so the final cash amounts paid out to final table members will actually be a little higher than previously announced.
LIVE, BUT ON TAPE–Cable television network ESPN, which is televising this year’s WSOP, is scheduled to begin airing WSOP programming on Tuesday, July 22, 2008. Starting on that date and then continuing on every Tuesday thereafter, WSOP action will be shown from 8-10 p.m. Eastern Time in the USA, and be repeated at various time throughout the week. The programming will include action from the Main Event, as well as from some of the other 54 tournaments that made up this year’s WSOP. Although it has been erroneously reported by numerous media that ESPN will televise the Main Event final table action live this year for the first time, it actually won’t be live. It won’t be a months-long wait between the final table actually playing down and it being shown on ESPN, as in years past, but it won’t be live either. It will be on a several-hour delay, which TV execs call “plausibly live,” whatever that means. It’s what NBC does with the Olympics, and will again do next month when it televises Olympic events a few hours after they’ve occurred. ESPN will televise the WSOP Main Event final table action just hours after it occurs. The day after the nine finalists are whittled down to two, ESPN will show that whittling. And then the day after the two are whittled to one, ESPN will show that. Translation: ESPN is to televise final table play on November 10 and 11, 2008.
GLOBAL VILLAGE, PART 1–Past winners of the WSOP Main Event over the event’s 39-year history have been citizens, at the time of their victories, of five different countries. Of those 38 winners (the 39th will be determined in November), 35 were U.S. citizens, one was a British citizen, one was an Irish citizen, one was an Australian citizen and one was a Spanish citizen.
GLOBAL VILLAGE, PART 2–Past winners of the WSOP Main Event were born in eight different countries. Of those 38 winners, 31 were born in the USA, two were born in Iran and one each were born in Ireland, Lebanon, Ecuador, Laos, Vietnam and China. Prime examples of the WSOP’s diversity are 2005 Main Event winner Joe Hachem, who was born in Lebanon and emigrated to Australia, 2007 Main Event winner Jerry “The Shadow” Yang, who was born in Laos and emigrated to the USA and 1987 and 1988 Main Event winner Johnny “The Orient Express” Chan, who was born in China and emigrated to the USA. =A0 GLOBAL VILLAGE, PART 3–The poker players who played in the 2008 WSOP’s 55 tournaments live in 118 different countries, possessions and territories. Since there are about 200 different countries, possessions and territories in the world, that’s a participation rate of about 60% of the planet. The 2007 WSOP featured card players from 87 different countries, possessions and territories, so international participation is up about 36% this year over last.
BROKEN RECORDS–Even though more people entered the WSOP Main Event in 2006 than entered this year’s WSOP Main Event, the 2008 WSOP overall was the largest WSOP in history, with a total of 58,720 players entered into 55 events. A total of 54,288 players entered the 2007 WSOP’s 55 events, meaning overall WSOP participation was up about 8% this year over last. In addition, the 2008 WSOP overall was the richest WSOP in history, with a total of about $181 million in prize monies already doled out or to be doled out. That’s up about 13% over the previous year. =A0=A0=A0 BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S–Tiffany Michelle, a poker pro from Los Angeles, California, USA, finished the highest of any woman in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, coming in in 17th place and earning $334,534. Her showing is the best by any female player in a WSOP Main Event since Annie Duke finished in 10th place in the 2000 Main Event. In 1999, Susie Isaacs finished in 10th place in the WSOP Main Event. The only better finish by a woman in a WSOP Main Event was Barbara Enright, who finished in fifth place in 1995, and to this day remains the only female player to make the final table of a WSOP Main Event. =A0 FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE–Russian poker players have made the WSOP Main Event final table the last two years. Alex “The Mad Russian” Kravchenko did it in 2007 (ending in fourth place overall) and Ivan Demidov has done it this year.
OH, CANADA–Canadian poker players have made the WSOP Main Event final table the last two years also. Tuan Lam did it in 2007 (ending in second place overall) and Darus Suharto and Scott Montgomery have done it this year. =A0 BOY FROM BRAZIL–A poker player from Brazil finished among the top 100 finishers in a WSOP Main Event for the first time this year. Rafael Caiaffa of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, ended up in 55th place, which was obviously the highest WSOP Main Event finish ever by a Brazilian.
DON’T CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA–A poker player from Argentina this year had the highest WSOP Main Event finish ever by anyone from Argentina. Jose Barbero of Buenos Aires, Argentina, ended up in 89th place.
HE’S NO HUGO CHAVEZ–A poker player from Venezuela this year had the highest WSOP Main Event finish ever by anyone from Venezuela. Jamal Kunbuz of Valencia, Venezuela, ended up in 33rd place.
WHEN IN ROMANIA–A poker player from Romania this year had the highest WSOP Main Event finish ever by anyone from Romania. Toni Judet of Bucharest, Romania, ended up in 22nd place.
AGE OF POKER–The youngest player at the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table is 22 and the oldest is 53. The average age of the nine final table members is about 26. Five of those nine are in their 20s. The youngest person ever to win the WSOP Main Event was Phil “Poker Brat” Hellmuth Jr. in 1989, who was 24 years, 10 months and 5 days old. Should Peter Eastgate or Craig Marquis win this year’s Main Event, the record for youngest winner would be shattered.
(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])