This year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament series was a smashing success. Omitting the event that saw two of the same cards dealt on the flop and a false active shooter report that led to chaos, the 2022 WSOP confirmed that poker is alive and well around the world.
The final event, the Tournament of Champions, wrapped up on Wednesday. When all the cards and chips stopped flying, Benjamin Kaupp was the last player standing in the exclusive freeroll, picking up $250,000.
The entire series – all 89 live events – saw impressive participation, even though there were still some concerns over COVID-19. Compared to 2019, the last time a full live WSOP schedule was held, some events increased their attendance by 27% or even 44%.
The Main Event, always a huge draw, attracted a lot of attention as poker players around the world set their sights on the $80-million prize pool. There were 8,663 entries, besting the 2019 event by 97. However, it was still just short of the record of 8,773, set in 2006.
Positive Reviews for New Venue
The series moved to Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas on the Vegas Strip this year. It was a poignant move as the WSOP began at Binion’s Horseshoe. Before the end of this year, Bally’s will change its name to Horseshoe.
Players reportedly liked the changes they saw once they overcame some initial trepidation.
Shaun Deeb commented during one event that the chips were “amazing,” and the cards were “holding up better than most years.” Eli Elezra added that Bally’s and Paris were a “dream come true” for poker players.
Daniel Negreanu was surprised at how well everything went. He said he had expected a “shit show,” adding that he was “shocked to see it’s gone really smoothly.”
For almost two decades, the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino hosted the WSOP.
Negreanu Takes Center Stage
Negreanu was on a quest to win his seventh WSOP bracelet. However, he fell short. DNegs had several impressive runs, cashing in 12 events, but ultimately lost just over $1 million.
He’s frustrated, as evidenced by his outburst following a particularly brutal bad beat in the $250,000 Super High Roller No-Limit Hold’em event.
His best score was fifth place for $88,081, which he picked up at a $7,777 buy-in online event.
Negreanu’s performance wasn’t all bad. His team took second in the $25,000 WSOP Fantasy League for $100,000. It’s a small consolation, but a consolation nonetheless.
The Ups and Downs of Poker
Negreanu’s long-time poker rival and archenemy Phil Hellmuth didn’t have much luck at the felt. Showing up as Darth Vader for the Main Event doesn’t mean the force is with you.
The Poker Brat had six cashes at this year’s WSOP. Among these was a second-place finish in the $3,000 buy-in Freezeout No-Limit Hold ’em event. However, the cards didn’t fall his way the rest of the time.
Even his Main Event attempt was unsuccessful. He didn’t win a single hand before falling ahead of the first break on Day 2ABC. The 16-time WSOP bracelet winner hasn’t made the money in the Main Event since 2015.
Poker pro-Matt Glantz may have fallen to 40th place in the $1,000 buy-in Million Dollar Bounty event, but he certainly didn’t walk away without a huge payday. His finish gave him about $20,000. But after eliminating another player, he had a shot at a big bounty prize.
Sifting through the envelopes, his hand finally settled on one that felt like a winner. It was, as Glantz picked up the $1-million bounty, the biggest the event offered.
Espen Jorstad Cashes In
The big winner was Norway’s Espen Jorstad. He scored the win at the Main Event, pocketing $10 million in cash and picking up his first bracelet.
Although he is originally from Norway, he now calls the UK home. As such, he doesn’t have to pay taxes on the winnings. However, he still has to share some of the money, as he received backing from other players.
That’s still much better than it could have been. Runner-up Adrian Attenborough cashed for $6 million. However, because the Australian resides in the US, $2.4 million goes to the government.
WSOP Controversies and Problems
The series had to overcome a few controversies as well. In the event that saw Glantz score his huge bounty, one flop produced 5-3-3. The only problem was that both 3s were the 3 of spades.
The hand was ruled dead, everyone got their chips back and play resumed. However, not before the floorperson threatened – illegally – to disqualify any person who discussed the misdeal on social media. The threat didn’t work.
There were also repeated grumblings over the participation in the WSOP by players the poker community would rather avoid. Several players are facing accusations of cheating or have been proven to be cheaters at other events. However, nothing prevents them from showing up on the circuit.
That could change, but it will take a massive effort. An initiative is underway to create a universal poker blacklist for cheaters.
On Saturday, with the Main Event underway and the WSOP avoiding major conflicts, an active shooter alert at the MGM Grand made its way through Vegas. That caused panic and chaos at the poker tournament, which left several players, including Negreanu, with serious injuries.
However, what was thought to be gunfire was a broken glass door by a disgruntled gambler.
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