In poker, the Seniors and Ladies events are often addressed with asterisks. They aren’t open events, so records achieved in these tournaments are handled a little differently, treated as exceptions or something different or lesser than an open field bracelet event.
There is nothing lesser than about this year’s Seniors Event though. In fact, insignificant is about the least appropriate word there is to describe what is happening in Las Vegas today.
The Rio is bursting with over 4,000 eager entrants in what is now the largest single starting day live tournament in poker history. Spread across the Brasilia, Pavilion, and Amazon Rooms, the $1,000 buy-in event drew the biggest poker crowd of 2012 thus far. With 4,128 entrants, some lucky senior is going to walk away with an astounding first place payday of $603,713 and the top 423 finishers will all earn at least $1,858.
The 4,128-player field obliterates the record for single starting day tournament field size previously held by last year’s WSOP Seniors Event, which drew 3,752 players. This popular tournament continues to grow at such exponential rates, that even this year’s WSOP setup, which boasts a record 478 tables, was almost not enough to contain them. The start time even had to be moved ahead to 10am in order to ensure enough time for the three-day tournament to accommodate the record crowd.
To put the field size of this year’s event in perspective, only seven WSOP Main Events in history have surpassed the size of this event, and they did so with the benefit of multiple starting days. This tournament has done what no other tournament in history has ever done in a single day—drawn more than 4,000 runners.
The unofficial spokesman for the older members of the poker community, “Oklahoma Johnny” Hale, helped kick off the record-setting event alongside Jack Effel as well as the Golden Eagle, the trophy which bears the name of all the WSOP Seniors Event winners. Hale says what he loves about the annual event is that this group is here to have a good time, and with this gigantic crowd, the event is quite the party.
“Most of them don’t care if they win or lose,” Hale says of his fellow competitors. “To them, poker is fun. They are already successful in life and they are here to have fun.” Hale also says he only expects this event and its loyal and enthusiastic group of players to keep growing in the coming years, which means a 5,000-person Seniors Event in the next five years doesn’t seem out of the question.
There is plenty of fun to be had, for sure, but there is also some serious prize money on the line, including the second largest bracelet payday of the year so far, trailing only the $781,398 Ashkan Razavi earned for winning Event #9, the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em with re-entries tournament.
Today is a day for the Seniors, but it is also one for the record books with no asterisk whatsoever.
(Photo by Jay WhoJedi Newnum)