It’s perhaps not every day that Neymar and Vince Vaughn are in the same room, but that’s the beauty and the appeal of the World Series of Poker.
Celebrity spotting aside, nearly 200,000 people descended on Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s Las Vegas or competed online for the cash at poker’s annual showpiece occasion, with a number of records broken – confirming the intelligence of moving the WSOP to a new location on the LV Strip.
The Bally’s branded venue will soon be rechristened as a Horseshoe Casino, which is a name synonymous with the World Series of Poker having been the event’s original home for more than 30 years.
The extra floor space at the Bally’s and Paris venues, compared to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, which had hosted for the prior 17 years, enabled more punters to compete in the expanded WSOP schedule.
And a consequence of that is that the prize pools at the 2022 edition were the largest in WSOP history – a cool $374 million (£310 million) in total, all told.
The Main Event saw 8,663 entries – second only to the 2006 edition, with the $10 million top prize up for grabs also only outstripped by that stellar tournament 16 years ago. Players from a whopping 87 different countries competed….that’s 44% of the number of nations on planet earth!
Jorstad Brews Up Almighty Win
Of the dozens of players that have won the World Series of Poker Main Event, Espen Jorstad is surely the only one with a degree in brewing science – yes, learning how to make beer really is an important education.
The Norwegian put his studies to good use while working at a brewery, but it was turning to poker professionally in the 2010s that really put the fizz in Jorstad’s life….and bank balance.
The 34-year-old entered the WSOP Online Main Event in 2021, finishing sixth and winning a handsome $603,000 (£500,000).
His success at the laptop was replicated in person 12 months later, with Jorstad winning not one but two WSOP bracelets in Las Vegas. The first was in a pairs event alongside Patrick Leonard, but he would save the best for last in the ultra-competitive Main Event.
The Norwegian battled his way through the 8,663 person field to reach the final table, where he would meet Adrian Attenborough and Michael Duek.
Amazingly, the hand that saw Jorstad walk away $10 million richer could not have started any worse – he was handed Q-2 off-suit. But he soldiered on, and after Attenborough, who was the aggressor, shoved all-in, the man from Norway watched on with absolute delight as an extra pair of 2s and another queen were dealt to complete his full house.
It’s the fourth year in a row that a non-American has clinched the WSOP’s most prestigious prize, and Jorstad was understandably delighted after being handed his bracelet – naturally, the first person he called was his mum.
“It was a very emotional call,” he confirmed.
“She could barely speak. She is my biggest fan, so to be able to share that moment with her was very special.”