For example, if the Main Event brings 6,600 players ($66 million in the prize pool), approximately $5.3 million will be taken out of the players' pockets. Out of the $5.3 million, $3.3 million goes to Harrah's and $2 million to the tournament staff. That is what second or third place will pay out this year, and this is for the Main Event only; meaning, those figures don't include the additional millions of dollars that will come from the other T.J. Cloutier recently remarked that this year's WSOP will take out more 'juice' than all previous WSOP's have taken, combined. And, this is not including the money that ESPN has paid Harrah's in order to cover the event, which no doubt will add to their already considerable profits.
Does any of this money come back to the players? No, not directly. One could argue that the money will somehow find its way back through increased publicity and, consequently, heightened interest in poker. But the question is, is it reasonable that 8% of the players' money disappears into the pockets of non-poker players? Is it reasonable that players are only allowed to wear a 3-by-1 inch logo at any televised final table? Shouldn't some television money go to the players in a more direct form than the value of publicity? Indeed, there is no doubt in my mind that the top dogs involved in the organizing, broadcasting, and marketing of the WSOP are making a killing because poker players tolerate it.
Poker pro Annie Duke has stated that players have a worse deal than the slaves once had, saying 'Poker players pay to pick cotton!' And I suppose there is some truth to that. Add to all this the 30% taxes that players have to pay on their winnings to the IRS, and you'll soon understand that as a professional tournament poker player it is almost impossible to make a profit in the long run. But, you do get one thing when you pay the entrance fee to a WSOP event: $10 off a $25 buffet here at the Rio, and the coupons last until July 7th!