In a link whose quality is worth of the cheesiest of local independent radio DJs, May 23rd will also see the final table of the World Series of Poker No-Limit Texas Hold'Em World Championship. A distant-record 839 players each paid $10,000 to buy into the tournament on Monday; subtract the house's 6% rake and there's over $7,800,000 to be distributed among the top 63 finishers. As I type, we're down to the last 18 and Friday will see the final table of nine play to a finish - the man with all the chips at the end of the game will take home $2,500,000 cash as first prize. The World Series of Poker will overtake the World Series of Game Shows in terms of record prize size actually paid once more. (Unless someone has actually hit the five million Euro jackpot already.)
The extent of poker's leap into the mainstream over the last 3 or 4 years has been remarkable, as best illustrated by the growth of the big tournament here. For a long time it was stuck at about 200-300 entrants and paid a jackpot of just the single million, but it's really expanded in recent years. It may no longer be the most expensive tournament to enter of them all, but it's still the one that people most want to win. (I predict a $100,000 buy-in tournament by 2010, attracting 25 entries in its first year, and a million-a-head TV tournament by 2020.)
There is set to be text coverage of the final, hand by hand, care of the Gutshot Poker Collective, but you can plunk down US$30 for the official live 7-camera 3-commentator video stream and get a bumper bargain bucket of Binion's bonuses thrown in, on the grounds that if the bonuses can drag you there to gamble then they'll make it all back from you again and more. ;-) Oh yes, am I the only person who confuses Bruno Fitoussi with Bruno Faidutti?
Major Weaver, in his other weblog, points to more info about the new Lottery games. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Olympic Change penny-a-play game is going to be Keno in disguise; furthermore, it would seem most unlikely that you'll be able to hand over a single shiny penny and get a ticket back, you may be restricted to buying large multiples of penny plays at a time. If, as I suspect, the aim is to have your one of your lines of eight numbers matching up with as many of the winning balls as possible, then it's possible that the "full perm 8 from 10", "full perm 8 from 13", "StarPlan E" and "Daily Sun Never-Miss Money-Maker 275" schemes last seen as marvellous combinational footnotes on yesterdecade's football pools coupons might even make a reappearance. Watch this space!