Bagging a Seat for the World Series of Poker

2013 World Series of Poker. | Photo by Joe Giron/WSOP

2013 World Series of Poker. | Photo by Joe Giron/WSOP

The final table of the World Series of Poker’s Main Event begins November 10 at the Penn & Teller Theater in the Rio. I’ve attended a few of these, and they’re pretty cool to watch, as all of the players have rooting sections and it gets pretty rowdy. That atmosphere, along with the fact this is one of the richest events in the sporting world, makes for a fun spectator event. And you’re invited.

Since it’s against state gaming regulations to charge to watch live gambling events, free tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning early November 10. The theater has 1,100 seats, but many will be reserved for the media, with many more dispersed among friends and families of the finalists. Hence, free tickets will be relatively limited, with lines forming by 8 or 9 a.m. The doors open at 3:30 p.m., while the cards go in the air at 4:48—making for a long day that most won’t want to sign up for. But there’s another play.

Although the theater will be packed at the start, it will stay that way only for the first couple of hours. After that, and especially as players are eliminated, large blocks of seats open and new people are let in. If you want to be there from the start, plan on making a day of it. Otherwise, show up around 7 p.m.

Depending on how much effort you’re prepared to exert, the best plan may be watching it on ESPN in the comfort of your home (there’s a 30-minute delay for the telecast). Regardless of how and where you watch, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The champion will win an even $10 million this year to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the event being at the Rio. Those who finish between second and seventh place will win more than $1 million (8th pays $947,077 and 9th pays $730,725).

This is obviously no tournament for old men, with six of the nine finalists in their 20s and the other three in their 30s. Since 2008, all Main Event winners have been under 25. Fitting that profile this year are Felix Stephensen (23) and Andoni Larrabe (the youngest at 22).

The favorite based on betting lines (yes, there are odds at offshore sportsbooks) is chip leader Jorryt van Hoof. In fact, the betting market favors the players almost in the same order as their chip totals, which is normal. The lone exception is Martin Jacobson, who’s fifth on the betting line, despite being eighth in chips.

FYI: The action on Day Two (November 11) starts at 5:48 p.m. Getting a seat near the rail that day should be much easier.

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.

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