The 2013 World Series of Poker schedule was released last week, and poker players and fans around the globe immediately started drooling at the prospect of playing in the 62 events that make up this year's slate.
The news got me so excited I went right to YouTube and put SrslySirius' "WSOP Song – I Can't Wait to Go!" on repeat. (Warning - some language NSFW.)
There are a number of new events and some great old ones. Here are 10 great events to watch for, and if you can, play in, this year.
10. Event #6 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em "Millionaire Maker"
The WSOP schedule is once again littered with $1,000 and $1,500 no-limit Hold'em events. In fact, 14 of the 62 events this year are "standard" $1,000 or $1,500 no-limit Hold'em events (not six-handed or shootouts). These tournaments make up nearly a quarter of the schedule with good reason – they are insanely popular, drawing upwards of 3,000 players in some cases.
But this year's first $1,500 full-ring no-limit Hold'em event will make history as the first to award $1 million to first place. The tournament starts on Saturday, June 1, and features two starting flights. If you bust out of the 11 a.m. flight, you can buy back in to the 5 p.m. flight. The winner of the tournament is guaranteed to win $1 million, and the rest of the prize pool will be adjusted accordingly.
9. Event #33 - $2,500 Razz
This event returns to the schedule and is notable merely because it's a personal favorite that most people loathe. And if nothing else, we're guaranteed to see an amazing tournament summary from WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla. He always steps up his game in the Razz event. Check out this gem from 2010: "In every way, shape, and form the Razz finale was dreadful … It was about as interesting as watching porno while wearing a blindfold. A thrilling poker moment, this was not."
8. Non-bracelet event - $5,000 Open Faced Chinese Poker
The latest craze in the poker world is open-faced Chinese poker. It's a great game, and as Casino City's Editor-in-Chief Vin Narayanan and I correctly guessed in last week's Casino City Gang podcast, the WSOP has jumped in on the action by offering a $5,000 non-bracelet event this year.
Now this game is rarely played in tournament form so this should be interesting. I think the WSOP's cautious approach in offering a tournament but making it more of an "exhibition" as a non-bracelet event is a smart one. If it's a huge success, expect to see this event be offered with a bracelet on the line next year.
7. Event #50 - $2,500 10-Game Mix
Like the razz event, this game is on my list mostly because it's an event I desperately want to play. In fact, if I had an unlimited bankroll but could only play one event in the entire series, it would probably be this one.
The WSOP does feature other mix-game tournaments, and of course the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship is by far the most prestigious, but the 10-game mix includes some great lowball games with the addition of badugi and no-limit 2-7 single draw. Now if they'd just put together an 11-game mix and add in pot-limit Omaha hi-low, I'd be in heaven.
6. Event #34 - $1,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em
The chips will definitely be flying in this event, which is structured to play out in two days. The first four levels will be 30 minutes, with levels 5-17 lasting 40 minutes. The rest of the tournament will be played with standard 60-minute levelts. With this structure, the tournament reaches level 18 (with blinds at 3,000/6,000) in the same amount of time that a standard $1,000 event would playing level 11 (with blinds at 500/1,000). Pretty dramatic difference, no?
5. Event #43 - $10,000 2-7 No-Limit Single Draw
This is another personal favorite. One of the best things about this tournament is that the only people who are crazy enough to play it are the best players in the world. Last year Nick Schulman won the event for $294,321, and the year before the final table featured John Juanda, who won, runner-up Phil Hellmuth, and Schulman, David "Bakes" Baker and Hasan Habib. Look for another stacked final table this year in one of the smallest fields of the entire series.
4. Event #58 - $1,111 Little One for One Drop
Last year the WSOP made history with the $1 million Big One for One Drop. This year, there will still be a high-roller's tournament to support the charity, though the buy-in has been lowered to $111,111. That said, poker players with more modest bankrolls can now get in on the action and play in an event that supports Guy Laliberte's charity with the $1,111 Little One for One Drop. The tournament will feature two starting days and unlimited re-entry through the first four levels. While the tournament is not running on a weekend, with the start days of July 3 and July 4, this could feature a significant prize pool, especially if some of the professionals with deep pockets decide to play very aggressively in the first few levels.
3. Event #54 - $50,000 Poker Players Championship
This star-studded event is one not to be missed. In fact, if you're a poker fan looking to get pictures and autographs from your favorite professional poker players, this event is probably more fan-friendly than the Main Event. With a small field (only 108 players entered last year), every table is packed with recognizable players. The tournament runs over the course of five days, and you won't find one soft table, so it's a marathon and a true test of mental endurance.
2. Event #51 - $10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em
Wait, what did you say? The buy-in for the ladies event was raised to $10,000?
Well, technically, yes, but with good reason. If you watched the video at the top of this story, you saw the "Courageous men wearing wigs in the ladies game." For some reason, men have decided to enter the ladies event in the past, and legally, Caesar's can't stop them. But the WSOP, in a stroke of genius, decided to raise the buy-in from $1,000 to $10,000, but will offer women a $9,000 discount.
So now, instead of being booed and glared at when they're at the table, men would likely be welcomed as they would add a significant amount to the prize pool. Heck, if anyone wants to buy-in to my $20 home game tournament for $200, they are more than welcome to do so.
I don't expect to see any men in the event this year, however. With 936 players, you would have had to make the final table to finish with a profit if you bought in for $10,000 last year.
1. Event #62 - $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event
What kind of list would this be if the Main Event weren't at the top of the list? The Main Event is on just about every poker player's bucket list. I'd love to play in it someday, though I'm still waiting on a huge Mega Millions lottery jackpot to make it happen. The winner of the Main Event gains poker immortality in a way that no other bracelet winner does. Who doesn't want to have their picture up on the walls of the Amazon Room in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for each series? Who wouldn't want to be immortalized thanks to re-runs of the tournament on ESPN? Oh, and if those things don't appeal to you, maybe the first-place prize of likely more than $8 million will change your mind.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi. Follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.