For the first time since 2006, eight figures await the 2014 World Series of Poker main event champion. The World Series of Poker released its 2014 schedule on Tuesday, and players are excited about what this 65-event series has to offer, especially the guaranteed $10 million first-place prize to the world champion.
The action will take place at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino from May 27 to July 14, when the November Nine are determined. The main event schedule includes three starting flights beginning on July 5, and the structure is identical to 2013 with players beginning with 30,000 in chips and playing five two-hour levels each day. ESPN will broadcast coverage of the main event this summer.
The main event will always be the most popular tournament on the schedule, but it is far from the biggest buy-in. The "Big One for One Drop" returns after a one-year break and will again feature a $1 million buy-in with an expected first-place prize of $20 million. Eleven percent of the total entry pool will be donated to the WSOP's official charity partner, One Drop, an organization that aims to bring clean water to those who need it around the world.
"This is my one opportunity to defend," said 2012 One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari. "And when I [win] back-to-back, it will be the ripple heard round the world."
There will also be a new $25,000 buy-in mixed max no-limit hold 'em event, which, as Event 2, is the first of 16 high-roller events on the schedule (13 $10,000 buy-ins, the aforementioned $25,000, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship and One Drop). After a successful debut in 2013, the Millionaire Maker will return in 2014 and begin on May 31 with the first of two flights. The $1,500 buy-in event offers a single re-entry format and $1 million guaranteed for first place.
"For 10 years we have tried to raise the bar on tournament poker," said WSOP executive director Ty Stewart. "There is real optimism 2014 can be our biggest year yet with an anticipated $200 million in prize money to be paid out this summer. With new satellites and daily tournaments exclusively on WSOP.com and a plethora of side events, there is more reason than ever to make the trip to the poker mecca."
In a move that pleased many professionals, the WSOP is also offering an expanded variety of events. No-limit hold 'em still dominates the schedule, but the tournament staff showed creativity in their offering of a dealer's choice $1,500 buy-in event in which players can choose from 16 games. The staff also brought back the $1,500 2-7 draw lowball event, innovated with a $1,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event and retained the popular 10-game mix. They also added variations to the standard no-limit events including a $1,500 "Monster Stack" (15,000 in starting chips), eight-handed, ante-only and turbo events.
"We have tweaked our schedule and feel very good about the opportunities it presents poker players of all levels," said WSOP tournament director Jack Effel. "Now in its 10th consecutive year at the Rio, we believe operationally we have optimized the experience to provide players maximum choice and comfort and can't wait to open the doors May 27."
There's good reason to believe that tournament turnout will be up this year. Not only with the return of Full Tilt funds, but with the return of online WSOP satellites. WSOP.com, available in Nevada and New Jersey, will offer a variety of satellites for both big and small buy-ins leading up to the WSOP. On site, the WSOP will continue to offer live satellites and has dubbed July 4 at "Satellite Day" which will feature "a comprehensive slate of satellites, mega satellites and single-table satellites with entry fees as low as $125."
The WSOP will also hold three on-site non-bracelet "deep stack" events a day with buy-ins of $135, $185 and $235.
Preregistration will open for all events on March 1 at WSOP.com.