More Tables, $1m Big One Setting Up Richest WSOP Ever

Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko

In just 18 days the 2012 WSOP, which includes the biggest buy-in tournament ever, the most tables in a poker series ever and potentially the biggest overall prize pool in history, will begin.

Optimism appeared to be at an all-time high for WSOP executive director Ty Stewart and WSOP tournament Jack Effel in a press conference earlier today.

“It appears poker’s darkest days are behind us,” said Stewart, referring to online poker’s Black Friday.

“I think we’ve come back from this stronger than we ever hoped. We’re excited about the prospect of a second boom.”

Stewart went on to say that pre-registration is already very active and there’s no reason to expect this won’t be the richest WSOP of all time.

Among the highlights of the 60-minute press call:

  • Organizers expect it will be a record-breaking WSOP with a $200+ million overall prize pool (last year it hit $191 million to set the record).
  • Stewart expects the Big One will hit its 48-player cap meaning a first-place prize of $15+ million.
  • During the Main Event, only the final table will be streamed. Organizers believe the live stream diluted the coverage last year. There will be live streaming of other final tables but they have yet to announce which ones.
  • This year the WSOP is really loosening up the rules on talking at the tables. Players will now be able to talk about what they’re holding, provided they don’t show. Organizers are also easing the excessive celebration rules.
  • Players will be forced to verbalize their actions at the final tables in an effort to crank up the excitement.
  • Due to Nevada law, men will still be allowed to play the ladies event although, as usual, it's heavily discouraged.
  • The Chris Ferguson WSOP championship banner will stay up in the Amazon Room.
  • There are no formal plans to honor past WSOP champion Amarillo Slim although Stewart said they would do something eventually.
  • The Poker Players Championship will not be on ESPN this year (although the Big One will be). Stewart said he was disappointed by the decision not to televise it.
  • There will be 92 additional tables this year, located in the Brasilia Room. When you add in the Amazon Room, Pavilion Room and overflow areas like Buzios and the Rio poker room there will be close to 500 tables.
  • Originally envisioned as a one-time event, the $1 million buy-in Big One could potentially return in 2013 if there's enough interest. Right now they're treating it as a one-off.
  • There will be “exhibition” events that don’t award a bracelet but will be played in interesting formats like doubles and bounty.
  • Part of the reason the November 9 was switched to October 9 was so the WSOP doesn’t have to compete with the 2012 presidential election.
  • The recently announced WSOP Asia Pacific at the Crown Casino in Melbourne does not mean the end of the Aussie Millions. In fact the Aussie Millions will run numerous satellites to WSOP APAC.
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