Friday, May 23, 2008

WSOPE Will Take Place Before WSOP Is Over

Annette Obrestad holds up bracelet after winning the 2007 WSOPE Main EventNoticed the World Series of Poker had recently settled on dates for the 2008 WSOP-Europe events -- September 19th through October 1st. No word as yet on what events will take place, though I assume we’ll be seeing something similar to what happened last year when there were three events, including the £10,000 “Main Event” Annette Obrestad took down.

You’ll recall all of the buzz last fall about whether or not the WSOPE events should be considered “real” bracelet events, particularly after Obrestad’s victory (the day before she turned 19) made her the youngest WSOP bracelet winner ever. There are lot more meaningful debates to be had, of course, but this year’s delayed Main Event final table may well have an effect on how the WSOPE is viewed, for a couple of reasons.

For one, the WSOP Main Event (Event No. 54 of 55) will not have finished by the time the WSOPE events are played. If WSOP officials were to number those London events as Nos. 56, 57, and 58 -- a relatively meaningless, mostly ornamental change -- doing so could actually make those events seem more integrated into the primary WSOP schedule and thus more like “legitimate” bracelet events.

Secondly, it would seem likely that one or more of those who make this year’s WSOP Main Event final table will be playing in those WSOPE events. In fact, I would think WSOP officials would like it very much if all nine were there so as to direct more attention what will be happening in London this fall.

Last year the WSOPE events attracted a few big name American pros, but the fields mostly consisted of non-Americans (particularly Europeans). However, last year also saw record numbers of non-Americans trek to Vegas for the WSOP. Ten non-Americans won bracelets at last year’s WSOP, and the WSOP Main Event final table featured five non-Americans -- Jon Kalmar (U.K.), Philip Hilm (U.K., orig. Denmark), Tuan Lam (Canada, orig. Vietnam), Alex Kravchenko (Russia), and Raymond Rahme (South Africa). Also, champ Jerry Yang, a U.S. citizen, was born in Laos, meaning only three of the players making the ME final table were born in the States. All of which helped underscore what WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack was saying back when the first WSOPE was announced: “We are trying to put more ‘World’ into the World Series of Poker.”

Seems very possible that this year’s ME final table will also have an international flavor. And if a number of Europeans make it, I would certainly expect to see all of them playing in the WSOPE. In any event, what each of the “November Nine” decide to do with regard to the WSOPE will certainly be one of the major storylines come September.

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