Although most American gambling news reports these days tend to focus on various state-level online gambling legislations and the occasional Powerball winner, let’s not forget that the country is home to that very popular game, called poker.
It has also been the home of one of the most prestigious live tournaments, the World Series of Poker, which first took place in 1970. This year’s seven-week event kicked off on Wednesday, attracting thousands of players from all over the world.
As players, audiences and the media descend on the Rio in Las Vegas, everyone is looking for exciting, heated battles, and new rags-to-riches poker stars to emerge from those battles.
No one can of course forget that the World Series comes at a very special time: in the wake of legalizing online poker sites in the US. Though this is only the case for a few states, but Nevada is one of those. Moreover, they were the first one where the law has already been followed by an actual launch.
Ultimate Poker’s new site was the first one to open since local laws re-legalized the activity that had previously fallen victim to the federal government’s anti-online-gambling actions starting from 2007.
Many competitors are expected to follow suit, among them the World Series of Poker. In fact, the launch of their site is planned as one of the highlights of the live event itself.
Other highlights of course include the appearance of veteran players, such as Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and other big names in poker, as well as the massive money to be won. Last year’s winner Greg Merson (24) walked away with USD 8.53 million.
Although the live event has never been illegal, attendance numbers dropped significantly after American gambling laws were changed to ban interstate and international online poker. Previously welcoming as many as 8,700 participants, the World Series of Poker has only been attracting around or under 7,000 players ever since. It is now hoped that online legalization will lead to poker’s general revival and to ever more live event participants in the years to come.