The longest-running and richest tournament series returns to the Rio All-suite Hotel & Casino in the poker capital of the world, Las Vegas. Now in its 50th…

The longest-running and richest tournament series returns to the Rio All-suite Hotel & Casino in the poker capital of the world, Las Vegas. Now in its 50th year, celebrations for the event include a special gala and awards evening on Saturday the 29th of June as well as the Big 50 No-Limit Hold-Em — launching the tournament series opening weekend.

From May 28 to July 16, nearly 500 poker tables will be set up across more than 100,000 square-feet of ballroom space to accommodate thousands of visitors from around the globe. Events already announced include Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em, Seniors No-Limit Hold’em, Double Stack No-Limit Hold’em, Monster Stack NoLimit Hold’em, Crazy Eight’s NoLimit Hold’em and the Main Event World Championship.

Ty Stewart, WSOP’s Executive Director said: “We’re excited to commence our golden event. We expect our opening weekend Big 50 event to be one of the largest in our history, and certainly one of the best value tournaments ever offered. This is part of our concerted plans to make the 2019 WSOP a better value-all around.”

Building on the momentum of 2018

The success of last year’s event was certainly undeniable. A record 123,865 entries participated in WSOP 2018, creating a 49-year high of $266,889,193 in prize money. The headlines for 2018 included the first mother-son duo to win bracelets, after the 83-year old Farhintaj Bonyadi (mother to Iranian professional poker player Farzad “Buddy” Bonyadi) won the $1,000 Super Senior. With a $311,451 score, Bonyadi was the first female champion of the year.

There were some concerns over the success of the WSOP’s mega event, Colossus. While the record-breaking event drew thousands of players (from poker grinders to recreational shot-takers) 2018 saw 41% less participants than in its inaugural year — just four years prior. Despite the drop, Colossus is back for 2019, with starting days on the 26th and 27th of June. It will also be the lowest-priced gold bracelet event on the schedule with a $400 buy-in, which includes 40,000 in starting chips and 40-minute levels throughout.

If 2018 is any indication, there’s lots to look forward to this year; the average WSOP gold bracelet event last year had a $3,421,656 prize pool — and $655,337 going to the lucky winner.

The one’s to watch for 2019

Canadian Team Pokerstars Pro Daniel Negreanu has a 20-year career of consistent poker performances. With $39,830,194 in total tournament winnings, he is a crowd favourite at WSOP — with six WSOP bracelets from the tournament so far, he’ll definitely be a high roller to follow.

Nikita Bodyakovskiy has been on the tournament circuit since 2015, and reportedly has amassed over $20,829,107 in tournament earnings. An all-time money leader in his country of Belarus, he’s been a closely-watched figure in the industry since he began his professional career in 2010. He has yet to secure a bracelet for WSOP and will certainly be fighting to change during in the event’s 50th year.

Stephen Chidwick is expected to return to WSOP this year. The British player recently broke into the top-20 all time money list, with poker tournament winnings exceeding $21,500,000 (he’s currently number one in England). He first cashed in at WSOP 2010 for three events — he’s yet to secure a coveted WSOP bracelet, so be sure to watch out for him this year.

Born in Germany, 25-year old Feder Holz will be closely followed at WSOP this year. He won his first WSOP bracelet at aged 22 in 2016 at $111,111 High Roller for One-Drop Hold’em, cashing in on $4,981,775.

“Normally I am good with words, but this time I really don’t know what to say,” said Holz, in an interview following the win. “I just feel so overwhelmed and I didn’t think that it would be like this. I just feel like I’m in heaven right now.”

Three years since his last big victory, he’s definitely one to watch during this year’s series — is he still enough of a champion to make it to the top?

There’s still time to get involved

You don’t need to be a high roller or poker professional to play at the 50th edition of WSOP in Las Vegas. Buy-ins for tournaments at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino start from as low as $70, and single table satellites of live poker games will run for 24 hours a day — with {n:210429-wsop-sets-record-number-online-bracelet-events-despite/:9 online bracelet events planned for this year}.

There’s also the chance to win seats into WSOP events; you can qualify via satellite with 888Poker — a great opportunity for high rollers and new players alike. Of course, the place everyone wants to be is right at the heart of things, in Las Vegas, at the Big-50 No-Limit Hold’em event. With a $500 buy-in, $5,000,000 in prizes and guaranteed $1 million winner, someone is going to be walking away on the very first day a very happy player.

Speaking on the event, Ty Stewart said: “It is really special to see the emotions and the believers. What we do all year around is building to this day, where all the would-be Moneymakers and would-be champions show up.

“I wish I knew what exactly the secret sauce is,” he added. “There is one World Series of Poker and players love this brand so much.”