Tom McEvoy, the 1983 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, is credited with first uttering the phrase, “Poker is hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”
Well, that sure sounds like an activity nobody should want any part of. Yet every summer, many thousands descend upon Vegas to risk many millions of dollars at the WSOP. So there must be something else to it besides the boredom and the terror.
If you’ve ever played the game, you know what McEvoy was talking about. There’s a lot of sitting around, waiting, staring, and folding. And then you play a hand and the pot starts to build and your heart starts racing and you’re just praying for the hand to be over.
But there are also thrills. There’s the electric feeling of raking in a big pot. There’s watching tables break and numbers dwindle as your stack grows and your chances of winning life-changing money improve. There’s the satisfaction of putting together a puzzle on the spot and making the perfect decision.
At its worst, poker is boredom and terror. At its best, poker is ecstasy and adrenaline.
Starting Tuesday, seven weeks of the blending of all those experiences and emotions begins. The 2023 WSOP is here. But before the first declaration of “shuffle up and deal,” we’ve compiled some numbers you ought to know.
Cards and counting
54: Number of years there has been a World Series of Poker, counting the inaugural event in 1970 that wasn’t played tournament-style and had a winner determined by a vote of the players, as well as the pandemic-diminished 2020 version that didn’t include any entirely in-person tournaments
50: Days of poker at this year’s WSOP
95: Bracelets awarded over the course of those 50 days
30: Number of bracelet final tables PokerGO plans to livestream during this year’s Series
16: WSOP bracelets won by Phil Hellmuth, tops on the all-time list
4: Number of players who have won 10 or more career bracelets (including the late Doyle Brunson)
32: Number of players who have won five or more career bracelets
297: Number of players who have won two or more career bracelets
$300: Cheapest buy-in of the Series
$250,000: Most expensive buy-in of the Series
13: Number of tournaments with buy-ins under $1,000
11: Number of tournaments with buy-ins $25,000 and up
608: Tables Caesars plans to set up for poker across the two host venues, Paris Las Vegas and Horseshoe Las Vegas
8,773: Main Event entrants in 2006, the record organizers are trying to beat this summer
8,663: Main Event entrants in 2022, the closest that record has come to being toppled
12,196: Entrants Caesars needs in the $300 Gladiators of Poker event to collect its full 18% rake and avoid overlay
20: Years since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker
0: Seconds since the writer of this article plugged his oral history of Chris Moneymaker winning the World Series of Poker
Photo: Denise Truschello/Getty Images