Recent winner Brandon Cantu is one of the average Joes leading the charge. The crowd was literally chanting, "Young guns! Young guns!" by the time all the cards had been dealt and Cantu had won the first No-Limit event. There was not a single pro in sight (Juan Rafe Furst came right back and won one for the pros in the next event.
Of course, this battle royale has been brewing for some time now. The Main Event was been won by relative unknowns for the last four years. 2005 winner Joseph Hachem was probably the best known of the winners while Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker and Robert Varkonyi were all champions for average Joes.
It's obvious that pros are ready to take the Main Event back. Veteran poker player Mel Judah said earlier this week, "It's about time a pro wins it."
That, of course, remains to be seen. With a growing number of entrants (the Main Event is projected to have 8,000 contestants this year), it's never been tougher to win. Then again, the money has never been this good either.
It's difficult to say which of the two sides makes a more compelling story. On the one hand, the fact that virtually unknown people can instantly be catapulted into the world of high stakes poker is exciting and draws people to the game.
On the other hand, people like to see a name they know do well. There are countless fans rooting for Doyle Brunson or Johnnie Chan to grab one more bracelet. These guys are poker legends and folks love to see their heroes triumph. It's a testament to the skill of the professional players that they keep winning in a game that does require a lot of luck.
If nothing else, the 2006 WSOP promises to deliver an interesting battle between the two sides. Keep checking PokerListings.com to see what transpires.