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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Top 10 observations from the first World Series of Poker on the Las Vegas Strip

The World Series of Poker moved from Binion’s Horseshoe to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in 2005, and the Rio became synonymous with poker’s largest annual event.

Things remained unchanged until 2022, when the WSOP found a new home at Paris Las Vegas and Bally's – Las Vegas. The most important aspect of this shift was the fact that these two nearby properties are located at the very heart of Sin City, the famous Las Vegas strip.

This wasn’t the case with Rio since it was somewhat outside the city center.

When the news first broke out, there was a lot of talk about what this would mean for the World Series, but the majority agreed that it was a change for the better.

Now, with the WSOP 2022 behind us, we can reflect on it to determine if they were correct in their predictions. So, without further ado, these are the top 10 observations from the first WSOP held on the Las Vegas strip.

10. New venue, more players
With the World Series moving to the Strip, it was natural to expect more players to get involved.

While pretty much everyone who cares about poker knows about the WSOP, placing it on the Las Vegas Strip made it even more attractive for everyone. Sure enough, after only a few days, it became clear this expectation would come true. All tournaments featured big numbers, and the suspense was building for the prestigious $10,000 Main Event, with plenty of satellites running on online poker sites.

Many believed it would be record-breaking, but in the end, it fell just short of the 2006 record. Still, it was the second-biggest Main Event in the history of the WSOP, with 8663 entries.

9. Lack of nostalgia among players
For many of the “old guard,” the Rio was the place where they experienced their first major wins and claimed their first WSOP bracelets. Some of them have been there year after year, every single summer. So, naturally, some emotions were involved when the move was announced.

For the most part, though, everyone agreed this was the right thing to do and would help poker grow.

Some players took it to Twitter to say their goodbyes, but very few lamented that they’d be playing at new venues.

8. Solid job by WSOP staff
When there are thousands of people in one place, playing in the same tournament, keeping things under control is much harder than it looks. And with the WSOP now playing out at two separate (albeit connected) properties, the organizers had some new challenges to handle.

There were a few small incidents along the way, such as duplicate cards and jokers popping up and the A/C breaking down, but it seems that WSOP was able to handle poker software and other essential parts just right.

All in all, it was a well-organized event that provided the kind of experience many amateur players are looking for in Las Vegas.

7. Early COVID-19 fears didn’t slow things down
During the first couple of weeks of the WSOP, a great number of players started reporting positive COVID-19 results. The situation was becoming concerning, and there were fears that this could influence the schedule.

Luckily, things settled down, and the second half of the WSOP continued as planned. Those who caught the virus early on took some time to recover, and many of them jumped straight back into the action as soon as they were allowed.

6. The Phil Ivey effect
The fact that Phil Ivey decided to play the entire WSOP in 2022 probably didn’t have much to do with the change of location. Whatever the case may be, this was the first time in many years that Tiger Woods of Poker got back on the grind to chase bracelets.

While Ivey wasn’t able to improve his bracelet count, he did come within reach of the victory once, only to lose in the heads up.

The high-roller ended up with seven total WSOP cashes, so it was a very decent showing on his part. And his presence on the Strip certainly warmed up the hearts of poker fans worldwide.

5. Rough summer for Kid Poker
Unlike Ivey, Canadian poker superstar Daniel Negreanu has been grinding his heart out at every World Series, and for the past several years, he’s also been vlogging the entire experience.

Negreanu came ready to play and win some bracelets, but things didn’t go his way this summer.

Kid Poker constantly found himself on the wrong side of the variance, losing almost all crucial pots, whether it was the vibe of the new location or something else.

The final tally for the Canadian was -$1.2 million and zero bracelets this summer. While he wasn’t particularly upset about it, this is probably one of those WSOPs he’ll look to forget and bounce back from as soon as possible.

4. Phil Hellmuth’s Main Event dud
Phil Hellmuth was another big name that the poker media and fans have their eyes on for every World Series, especially for the Main Event, which he won in 1989.

As it turned out, the 16-time bracelet winner wasn’t particularly inspired by the new venue, as his Main Event entrance this year wasn’t nearly as glorious as what we’re used to seeing from the Poker Brat.

Phil showed up alone, dressed in a Darth Vader costume, and the crowd in the room wasn’t too impressed by his performance.

To add insult to injury, Hellmuth lasted under two hours. He couldn’t pick up any pots and was eventually sent to the rail when his pocket Kings were outrun by a rivered straight.

3. Main Event winner makes history
The Main Event may not have broken the record for the number of players, but it was still one for poker history books in several aspects.

Perhaps the biggest one is that the winner, Espen Jorstad, hails from Norway and is the first Norwegian to ever win the Main Event.

This may come as a bit of a surprise, given that the country has produced quite a few solid poker players, who mostly adopt an aggressive style.

This is just another thing we’ll remember about the first WSOP Main Event to take place on the Las Vegas Strip. It may not be a huge deal in general, but it is certainly important for all Norwegian poker fans who’ll feel inspired by their compatriot’s victory.

2. New tournaments
The WSOP schedule always changes and evolves, but in 2022, we saw some really interesting events that captured the players’ imagination.

One such event was the $1,000 Million Dollar Bounty, which attracted over 14,000 entries.
The tournament featured a unique format where eliminating players gave those executing the elimination a shot at the mystery bounty prize.

Prizes ranged from $25,000 to $1,000,000, with one $500K and one $250K prize in the mix as well. In the end, the well-known pro Matt Glantz drew the lucky top bounty and banked a cool million.

While the idea was a bit out there, the turnout and the fact that everyone was having a great time at the tables showed that adding some gimmicky events to the mix can help freshen things up.

And the timing couldn’t have been better, as 2022 marked a new start for the WSOP in some ways, closing a big and significant chapter of its history.

1. Poker is alive and well
One final observation we can make about the first WSOP on the Las Vegas Strip is that poker is alive and still loved by the masses!

There is often talk about how the game is no longer as attractive to casual players, but numbers from Paris and Bally’s paint a very different picture.

Tens of thousands of people are willing to put their money on the line to play the game they love and chase the dream of winning the WSOP bracelet.

So, the poker dream is still alive!

It is true that the level of play is much higher than it used to be back in the day, with countless poker training sites available to everyone, so the days of people dusting off their massive stacks with a bottom pair are simply behind us.

Of course, it will happen every now and again, but your average recreational player has improved a lot. That doesn’t mean they’re no longer interested in the game, but they now enjoy it on a different level, and that’s just the natural progression.

But the numbers from the 2022 WSOP send a very clear message: poker is here to stay for many years to come, and the new World Series location will host many more great events in the years to come as it continues to create new champions and make players’ dreams come true!

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