Except for the odd exception, there are only two reasons a serious poker player plays the game: money and bragging rights.
While some players play for just one or the other, the majority of poker players play for both. They want the money, and the prestige that comes with it.
Everyone wants to be respected for what they do, and almost every poker player revels in the feeling of having bested his or her opponents and come out on top.
Getting to come home from Vegas with a title of world champion is a dream, but for a poker professional, coming home with enough money to pay the bills is a requirement.
Regardless of hopes and dreams, when you play for a living you're playing for the money. Every professional poker player can be classified and filed into a specific group of players (see the picture below).
The pros at the top, and most of the accomplished pros below, have all the money they need and are looking almost exclusively for bragging rights.
For this small crew of players, such as Phil Ivey, the money is almost meaningless; they're playing for bracelets and the title of World Champion.
The bottom two tiers of players all want to make it as being a big name pro, but in the end it's the money that matters. At the WSOP, the majority of the players fall into this category.
Who Has $50,000?
The pool of players comes from the higher-stakes grinders who, if they really wanted to, could pony up or sell enough action to get themselves a seat worth $50k.
In short, once you take out the super rich, and celebrity professionals, the players who can afford to buy in to this event are all players who are playing for the money first, fame second.
All professional poker players understand the importance of table selection. The concept is really simple; why play with strong players when you can sit with fish?
The only 100% guarantee with the $50k H.O.R.S.E event is that the field is guaranteed to be made up of the most decorated and successful poker players in the world.
The list of names in the event reads like a railbird's wet dream: Ivey, Negreanu, Nguyen, Brunson (x2), Lindgren, Seidel etc.
With a field guaranteed to be this strong, the only reason to take a seat would be to try and win the fame and bragging rights that come with a first place finish.
For any player contemplating taking a shot at poker stardom, the lack of notoriety without the TV coverage is simply not enough to overcome the long-shot of besting the field.
No matter what other tournaments or cash games you choose to play, you're guaranteed a softer, more fish-laden field than in the $50k.
Judging by the size of the field (even in comparison to the 201 players for the $40,000 No-Limit Hold'em event), the majority of the players with the money to play came to this same conclusion.