Top Pros, Former Full Tilters, And Underwhelming Numbers Headline WSOP Week

Written By Jessica Welman on June 11, 2017
Rio Casino in Las Vegas

[toc]Keeping up with the World Series of Poker (WSOP)  in Las Vegas, Nevada is tough. The events run nearly round the clock. Each day, one to three people pick up a bracelet. And every couple of hours, someone Tweets something everyone has to talk about.

If you think you missed anything important out of the WSOP this week, fear not. We have all the top stories featuring the big names as well as some other poker observations which may have passed you by.

High Roller lives up to name at WSOP

The first marquee tournament of the summer at WSOP was the $111,111 buy-in One Drop High Roller. The poker world’s top hold’em players turned up to play for a bracelet as well as contribute to a good cause.

As usual, a percentage of each buy-in went to the clean water organization, One Drop. The charity raised over $1 million from the event.

The cause is paramount, but there were several other elements worth discussing. First of all, the winner. Fans know Doug Polk because of his outoging personality, YouTube videos, and popular poker training videos. His poker resume is pretty impressive too though.

Polk defeated the tough final table to win the bracelet, his third, as well as $3,686,865. Martin Derbyshire of PlayUSA thinks Polk is exactly the kind of hero poker needs. At 28, Polk’s career is just getting started. He is already thinking like an old pro though. Catering to his audience as much as he caters to himself is atypical among the current crop of poker pros.

Polk was not the only big name associated with the broadcast either. The off-the-felt line-up was impressive too. The livestreaming team on subscription service PokerGO brought in the big guns. Lon McEachern and Norman Chad were in the booth for play-by-play. The duo also had a rotating cast of visitors like Phil Hellmuth, Jason Les, Max Steinberg, and Jeff Gross.

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WSOP drawing headlines, but crowds, not so much

The good news for the WSOP is that the big headlines keep coming. Daniel Negreanu already made two final tables. Several other players added more bracelets to their lifetime tally. Complaints (recent Legionnaire’s outbreak aside) about the event are minimal.

The bad news is a lot more subtle than the good news. While the numbers are far from disastrous, there is a disconcerting trend. As Steve Ruddock of Nevada Online Casinos pointed out, the first 11 bracelet events experienced universal decline in attendance. His theory is that the WSOP needs to trim back the number of bracelet events, something the organization has not done in several years.

Ferguson and Lederer walked into the Rio, but did anyone notice?

Last year, seemingly every poker outlet published stories on former Full Tilt Poker owner Howard Lederer’s post-Black Friday return to the felt. The outrage over the former online poker representative was palpable. Some called for Lederer and fellow Full Tilt Pro Chris Ferguson to be banned from playing events. Many wondered when one of the two would end up in a physical altercation.

This year, both are back. In fact, they even teamed up as partners in the two Tag Team bracelet events. Other than a few Tweets in passing though, no one said much this time around.

For US Poker, that is a problem. The site’s op-ed on Ferguson and Lederer reminds the poker world that these two were integral parts of a company that lost people a lot of money. The piece advocated for more outrage and more action when it comes to Lederer and Ferguson. Now it is a matter of seeing if the poker community listens at all.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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