World Series of Poker to Break New Ground as Players Seek Slice of History

World Series of Poker to Break New Ground as Players Seek Slice of History

Unprecedented Main Event Format, New Event Mix, Player and Spectator Enhancements Set Tone for 39th Annual Battle for the Bracelets

LAS VEGAS, May 28, 2008 – Following a 2007 season in which records were broken seemingly every day, the 2008 World Series of Poker Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light (WSOP) – and 39th annual – will deliver a new set of historic firsts from the moment the cards are dealt this Friday.

The 2008 WSOP runs from May 30-July 14 and features 55 different bracelet events in almost every variation of poker. The 47-day extravaganza unfolds at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is annually the world’s richest and most prestigious gaming tournament.

In addition to offering a record number of new championships in various poker disciplines and at a range of buy-in levels, the 2008 WSOP will include a historic format change to the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em – commonly referred to as the Main Event – as well as a wide range of improvements for players and fans alike.

The innovations will be on display beginning Day One. The inaugural 2008 bracelet event is a $10,000 World Championship of Pot-Limit Hold’em, the first of its kind at the WSOP. The tournament also marks the first time since the WSOP went to a multi-event format that it has opened with a $10,000 buy-in championship.

In all, the 2008 WSOP will feature 55 bracelet events, including an all-time high of eight $10,000 World Championships and eight $5,000 championships. Tournament organizers also have included eight $1,500 championships in the schedule to create the most diverse mix of bracelet events ever offered.

“If you’ve dreamed of becoming a WSOP champion, this is the year to enter,” said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. “With 55 opportunities to win a bracelet, more $1,500 and $10,000 events than ever before, and same day television coverage of our Main Event Final Table, the WSOP stage has never been brighter.”

Perhaps the most notable innovation at the 2008 World Series of Poker will be a groundbreaking format change for the Main Event. For the first time in the WSOP’s 39-year history, the Final Table of the Main Event will be televised in primetime on ESPN the very same day that the WSOP World Champion receives their bracelet.

Once the final nine players of the Main Event are set on July 14, action will be suspended for 117 days. These players – to be known as the “November Nine” – will have an opportunity during that time to secure sponsors and coaches, study their opponents’ play and devise new playing strategies before reconvening at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Nov. 9 to compete for the most coveted prize in poker.

The Main Event winner will be determined in the early morning hours of Nov. 11 and, in a telecast first, ESPN will air its final table coverage that night beginning at 9:00 PM ET.

Amid these new and enhanced events will be a host of highly compelling player stories that develop during the six-week poker extravaganza. One of the most anticipated themes at the 2008 WSOP will be whether Phil Hellmuth, who won a record 11th gold bracelet at the 2007 WSOP, can further distance himself from the legendary duo of Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, or whether either of these 10-bracelet-winners can even the score with Hellmuth.

Fans will be equally interested to learn if the longest-ever winning streak for amateurs at the Main Event will continue for a seventh straight year and whether the unprecedented international participation – 87 countries were represented at the 2007 WSOP, and five countries were represented at the Main Event final table alone – will continue.

As spectators navigate a more spacious and comfortable event layout – tournament and satellite tables will be spread over five rooms, creating more space in each – they will have a first-hand opportunity to see if any of the following records established in 2007 will fall this year:

  • Most total entrants for all events: 54,288
  • Largest Prize Pool: $159,796,918
  • Largest Ladies World Championship: 1,286 players
  • Largest Seniors World Championship: 1,882 players
  • Largest $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.: 148 players
  • Largest preliminary event prize pool: $7.1 million for $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.
  • Largest preliminary event top prize: $2.2 million for $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.
  • Largest Field of Players (non-Main Event): 2,998 for $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
  • Oldest player to compete in a WSOP event: 94-year-old Jack Ury in Main Event
  • Youngest player to win a WSOP gold bracelet in the United States: Steve Billirakis – 21 years, 11 days – in $5,000 World Championship Mixed Hold’em Limit/No Limit

To enhance the overall player and spectator experience, a number of significant changes have been made to the WSOP tournament operations. In addition to spreading play over five rooms to reduce congestion and improve sight lines, other changes being instituted include:

  • To further safeguard the integrity of events – the most important consideration for all players – the WSOP has implemented a new Code of Player Conduct to more clearly define acceptable behavior during the course of the tournament and reinforce the penalties that will result from violations of the code;
  • Registration opens Wednesday, May 28, two days before the first bracelet event, to minimize lines;
  • The cage will be separated from tournament play to accommodate more guests, including a special area for Total Rewards Diamond and Seven Star members;
  • The payout area will be combined with the cage area to allow for expedited processing of player paperwork;
  • Separate entrances have been established for players and spectators, allowing both groups easier access to tournament areas;
  • A concierge service has been established for players to make hotel, restaurant, show, spa and transportation arrangements for any Harrah’s-operated property in Las Vegas;
  • No tournament action or poker play will be housed in tents of any kind;
  • Between national brand name chains and new options including sushi and a noodle bar, food service will be improved over previous years;
  • Expanded restroom facilities will be available throughout the Rio convention area;
  • Player information will be stored electronically to ensure quicker payouts to repeat winners.