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40 years of the WSOP: The new millenium
With the World Series of Poker approaching its 40th anniversary in just days, PokerListings has been looking back in a series of articles at how the event has evolved. This fifth and final part looks at the new millenium.
Back in 1991, T.J. Cloutier was epic, with T.J. overcoming Ferguson's huge chip lead only to lose when his A-Q was out-flopped by Fergusons' A-9.
In the preliminary events, Sammy Farha, Steve Billirakis was crowned the new-youngest bracelet winner in history, breaking Madsen's record from the previous year. Hellmuth won his record 11th bracelet and had a then-record 63 WSOP cashes.
Last year's WSOP set records for attendance (58,720), countries represented (118), and prize pool ($180,676,248).
It also saw the introduction of the November Nine, which ratcheted up the interest in and attention to the final table.
For poker purists who had been decrying the lack of "professional" winners of the Main Event, this final table had many players for whom poker was not just a hobby.
Runner-up Ivan Demidov went on to place third at the WSOP-Europe, David "Chino" Rheem is a respected pro, and eventual $9.1 million winner, the taciturn Dane Peter Eastgate, has proved himself a worthy title-holder.
2008 had a rash of memorable bracelet winners in preliminary events from the brothers Hinkle (Grant and Blair) to first-time bracelet-winners Erick Lindgren, David Singer, Kenny Tran, Nenad Medic, David Benyamine, JC Tran, and John Phan all breaking their "one of the best to never win a bracelet" record - now currently held by Andy Bloch.
So what is in store for 2009? What records will be set, which will be broken? Who will be the big story, the one talked about another forty years from now?
Will a big name take the big title, or will another "relative" unknown take poker's biggest prize?
For those answers and a whole lot more, follow PokerListings' Live Reporting from the Rio throughout the 2009 WSOP.