What we learnt from the 2016 WSOP


Between May 31st and July 18th of this year a huge number of poker players descended on Las Vegas to try their luck in the legendary World Series of Poker. This year there was a record entry of 107,833 entrants from no less than 107 different countries so it really was a global event. Ever since the World Series was initiated in 1970 with just seven players and the winner chosen by secret ballot the event has grown and grown – and so has the prize money. In its first year players were simply competing for the honour of winning but in 2016 the total prize pot was a jaw-dropping $221,211,336.

Women continue to make their mark

For some time women have been showing that they’re more than equal to the men when competing in big events with Victoria Selbst and Kathy Liebert leading the way. This year there were at least two notable performances from women competitors. The first of these was Lisa Meredith, a teacher from Portland Oregon who had only ever played the game recreationally before. Having entered the $1,500 Buy-In Millionaire Maker she took on some seasoned professionals to come third, scooping a $500,000 pay-out. A second female success came for Natasha Barbour who won $348,374 in the $5,000 no limit hold’em event.

You don’t need to be a seasoned pro

Tournament poker is often littered with pro players and celebrity guests. With many of the average players feeling unable to break that final glass ceiling between mid & high stakes live tournament poker. That all changed this year with Fernando Pons and Griffin Benger making it through the 888Poker satellite qualifiers. Earning themselves a seat at the November Nine and guaranteed $1million in the process. A fantastic achievement and a great example of how satellite entries are really growing the game of poker and making it accessible to all.

Age is no limit

This was also a WSOP that went to prove that poker’s a game for the young and the old alike. One of the most junior players, Adrian Mateos, was just 21 going into the tournament but his tender years and relative lack of experience didn’t prevent him from winning $409,171 in no limit hold’em and $310,556 in the Summer Solstice One Drop High Roller bringing his career earnings to $2 million.

At the other end of the age scale, the oldest entrant was the 95 year old Willam Wachter of New York – although he’s not the oldest entrant ever. That was the 97 year old Jack Ury.

It’s still a big draw for celebrities

The excitement and competition of the event continues to attract big name celebrity players. This year it saw footballers Neymar and Max Kruse and ex-cricketer Shane Warne lining up alongside film director Nick Cassavetes and actor James Woods as some of the highest profile entrants.

With so many records being broken all eyes are firmly on next year’s WSOP and already many players are plotting how to get a place at the table whether by buying or playing themselves in. If you fancy your chances then look into the different ways to qualify and maybe we’ll be seeing you in Vegas next May.