Despite their obvious differences, both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the World Series of Poker are such huge international phenomenons that we couldn’t resist comparing them.
PokerListings' France's Fred Guillemot did the dirty work with an abacus and Wikipedia.
The Elephant in the Room
First things first: €11 billion, minimum. That’s what the FIFA World Cup will cost Brazil.
There’s been a lot of talk about this money, especially in a country where most people are struggling to live above the poverty line. The people of Brazil are not happy about it and they’re showing their discontent by demonstrating.
Poker might not be getting as much heat as football but the unbelievable sums the players bet and/or win can sometimes leave the public a little unhinged.
Political and ethical considerations aside, we still thought it would be valuable to compare both events in terms of pure numbers. Let’s go to the balance sheet!
# of Participating Countries
- World Series of Poker: 106
- World Cup: 32
While the football World Cup only comes around every four years poker holds its very own “world cup,” the World Series of Poker, every year in Las Vegas.
Last year there were players from 106 different countries, which is substantially more than the 32 final qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup.
It is only half as much as the last Summer Olympics in London, however (204 countries).
- WSOP Champion: $10m USD
- World Cup Champion (Team): €35m
Ryan Reiss, the 2013 WSOP World Champion, took home $8.37 million (before taxes) for his title.
If Reiss were a footballer he’d be the 18th-highest-paid player in the world, next to Hulk (Brazil) and just behind Eden Hazard (Belgium) or Fernando Torres (Spain).
He’d still be higher than John Terry (England), though.
Football players do earn this every year, though, while it’s a unique (and rare) opportunity for a poker player to make that much money all in one sitting. Some WSOP Main Event winners, in fact, have never even won another poker tournament.
Each team that takes part in the FIFA World Cup will also share at least €8 million and the team that becomes world champion in July will split €35 million.
This year the winner of the WSOP Main Event will be awarded $10 million guaranteed.
It represents less than 20% of what Leo Messi (€41 million) or Cristiano Ronaldo (€39.5 million) earns every year (including bonuses and advertising).
What About the Managers?
The manager of the Russian team, Italy’s Fabio Capello, makes the most money at €7.8 million - about as much as the WSOP winner.
Roy Hodgson, England’s manager, is next in salary at €3.54 million.
Cesare Pirandelli, who manages Italy, is third and Didier Deschamps, manager of France, earns €1.2 million … barely enough to play the Big One for One Drop!
Let’s Talk About Bonuses
Each one of the French players will get a €200,000 bonus for becoming world champions. German players will each get €300,000.
Spain’s world champions in 2010 earned €600,000 apiece for their win. That’s basically what you get if you win a $1,500 event with 1,000 to 2,500 players at the WSOP.
Infrastructure and Salary
The $10,000 buy-in for the WSOP Main Event represents two-and-a-half years of full-time work at the minimum wage in Brazil (€244/month).
The average Brazilian needs three months to earn enough money to take part in the cheapest event at the WSOP ($1,000).
The overall prize pool of the 2013 WSOP reached almost $200m ($222m in 2012).
This kind of money couldn’t even pay for half of the refurbishment of one of the two major Brazilian stadiums: the Estádio Nacional in Brasília (€500 million) or the mythical Maracanã in Rio (€449 million).
It wouldn't even be enough for the smallest stadium of the World Cup, the Estádio das Dunas in Natal (42,000 seats), which cost $400 million (€290 million).
By way of comparison a hotel/casino like the Rio (where the 2014 WSOP will take place) was built in 1990 and was bought in 1999 for $888 million by Harrah’s Entertainment, the group who owns the WSOP.
If you don’t know whether to go to the World Cup or to the WSOP this summer you should know that tickets to the World Cup go from €68 (first round) to €750 for the final (€335 for Category 3 seats).
At that price you’ll barely be able to pay the lowest buy-in of the WSOP, $1,000 ($500 casino employees event excluded).
Did You Know?
All of the players who have taken part in the WSOP Main Event since its creation in 1970 could fit in Maracanã stadium (73,531 seats).
It wouldn’t even be full -- there would be 2,924 seats left empty!