41st Annual World Series of Poker Sets New Major Milestones

The 41st annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) proved impervious to the global economic slowdown, setting a host of new records as poker enthusiasts from 117 nations traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the game’s grandest spectacle. While most live poker tournaments this year posted anemic results, the WSOP sharply reversed that trend, with a record 72,966 entries in 57 events creating the largest prize pool in WSOP history: $187,109,850.

The new all-time high in entrants surpassed by 20 percent the previous record of 60,875 set last year; this year’s record prize pool eclipsed the previous high of $180,774,427 set in 2008 by 3.5 percent.  The amount of events offered in 2010 was identical to last year – 57.

For the third consecutive year, the WSOP both generated a total prize pool well in excess of $100 million and attracted players from more than 100 nations and territories. The 117 countries represented this year is up from 115 countries last year.

In the 41-year history of the WSOP, the prestigious tournament has now awarded more than $1.2 billion in prize money.  (Actual figure is: $1,228,375,121).

Legions of amateur players competed alongside legendary poker pros, Hollywood A-listers and international sports figures to establish the new milestones.  Among the notable non-poker playing names competing during this year’s WSOP included: Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Jason Alexander, Hank Azaria, Ray Romano, Shanna Moakler, Jerome Bettis, Shannon Elizabeth, Scott Ian, Trishelle Cannatella, Jennifer Tilly, Shane Warne, Robert Iler, Shawn Marion, Petter Northug, David Alan Grier, Sara Underwood and Brad Garrett.

The youngest player in this year’s WSOP was John May, who played Day 1-D of the Main Event, a day after his 21st birthday. The oldest player to participate in this year’s WSOP – or in any WSOP – is 97-year-old Jack Ury, who also played Day 1-D of the Main Event.

“By every measure, this was the most successful World Series of Poker in the event’s illustrious 41-year history,” said World Series of Poker Vice President Ty Stewart. “From the lowest buy-in events to the highest, we saw enormous player demand translate into lengthy registration lists and massive prize pools. As the WSOP Main Event progresses, we’re looking forward to creating several new multi-millionaires.”

Many within the poker community speculated that participation in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship – commonly referred to as the Main Event – would suffer from the weak performance of many international currencies as well as the effects of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act’s (UIGEA) June 1, 2010, enforcement deadline.

Nevertheless, the WSOP Main Event attracted its second-largest field ever, with 7,319 participants. As a result, the prize pool for the Main Event alone stands at $68,798,600 million, with the winner’s share amounting to $8,944,138.

In all, the 2010 WSOP hosted nine of the 17 largest tournaments in live poker history, including: 

  • Event #57 – 7,319 entrants – second-largest (only the 2006 WSOP Main Event was larger)
  • Event #3 – 4,345 entrants – eighth-largest
  • Event #54 – 3,844 entrants – tenth-largest
  • Event #24 – 3,289 entrants – eleventh-largest
  • Event #34 – 3,142 entrants – thirteenth-largest
  • Event #47 – 3,128 entrants – fourteenth-largest
  • Event #36 – 3,102 entrants – fifteenth-largest
  • Event #45 – 3,097 entrants – sixteenth-largest
  • Event #13 – 3,042 entrants – seventeenth-largest

In addition to overall participation and prize money, the 2010 WSOP established new records for:

Most million-dollar tournaments: Forty-four of 57 events in this year’s WSOP boasted a prize pool of $1 million or more, up 13 percent from the previous record (39 of 57 tournaments) set last year.

Largest Seniors event in history: Event #34 attracted 3,142 players, eclipsing by 16 percent the previous record of 2,707 set last year. Year-over-year event prize money was up nearly 15 percent from last year, jumping from $2,463,700 to $2,827,800.

Oldest player to participate: Jack Ury, 97 years old. Ury, who was born in March of 1913, continues to break his own record each year he participates in the Main Event.

Most consecutive years to cash at WSOP: Berry Johnston’s two in-the-money finishes this year (Events #4 and #45) give the 1986 World Champion cashes for 28 straight years, the most in history. His two cashes this year give him a total of 61 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP, placing him in fourth place all-time.

Largest live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in history: Event #20 attracted 885 entries. The previous mark, set during Event #5 of the 2009 WSOP, was 809 entrants. The new record represents an increase of more than 9 percent.

Most consecutive years with multiple event winner: Frank Kassela’s two victories stretched the multi-event winner record to 11 consecutive years.

Biggest single day attendance ever: 3,097 players in Event #45.

Most consecutive annual WSOPs played: Howard “Tahoe” Andrew of Walnut Creek, Calif., extended his record for most consecutive years played at the WSOP: 37.

Largest amount of chips in play: This year’s WSOP Main Event featured a total of 219,570,000 million in chips. Because players in this year’s WSOP Main Event received chips valued at three times the buy-in ($30,000), the total chips in play exceeded the amount in the largest tournament ever, the 2006 Main Event, during which players received two-times the buy-in (20,000).

Most cashes at WSOP without a win: Tony Cousineau of Daytona Beach, Fla., extended his record as the player with the most cashes – 46 – without a win.

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