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World Series of Poker expanding in 2012

Oklahoma poker player Ben Lamb seeking more success in this year's World Series of Poker.
BY SEAN CHAFFIN Published: May 23, 2012

The biggest spectacle in poker kicks off Sunday. The 2012 World Series of Poker promises to be bigger than ever. The annual event will now feature 61 gold bracelet events, up from 58 in 2011, and the annual Casino Employees Championship kicks off the festivities on the first day at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

“This year's WSOP schedule is very exciting,” said WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, who will oversee the event for the seventh consecutive year. “We're introducing some fantastic new events, while bringing back many successful stalwarts that our players love. We will expand our footprint this year to include extra tables dedicated to cash games, as well as plenty of satellite and single-day tournament space, so players will have an easy time finding a desirable game without ever having to leave the Rio Convention Center.”

This summer's festivities mark the 43rd year for the tournament series, and the first open WSOP gold bracelet event begins on Memorial Day with a $1,500 No-Limit Holdem tournament. The annual poker extravaganza is televised on ESPN and runs from Sunday through July 16. An additional 92 poker tables will be added for about 470 poker tables in use throughout the events in the Rio's Convention Center. It was also announced that will feature live coverage of 60 final tables throughout the tournament series in June, complete with commentary to meet growing demand for live coverage.

WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky said much of the WSOP's continued growth is attributable to international growth of the game.

“When I worked my first WSOP in 2008, we had 220 tables in play and a bunch of the convention space was taken by other conventions,” he says. “In 2010, I recall we sold out 11 of our bracelet events. We simply didn't have any more tables to seat players that wanted to play. So we knew the demand existed. We just couldn't meet it. While U.S. growth has slowed, the game's growth is coming from around the rest of the world.”

Holdem events continue to be the most popular tournaments by a wide margin, Palansky says, and games like 7-Card stud “are going the way of the 8-track.”

“The reality is 99 percent of the players look for affordability combined with high upside,” he says. “When you can enter a $1,000 event and win $600,000 in three days, players like the risk-reward associated with that. You can even satellite in for $100. We are seeing tremendous growth in short-handed events — events that play either six, four or heads up format. It creates a wider range of hands that players can play, and thus more action and excitement.”

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