2002 World Series of Poker

Tue, 03 Jun 2008 02:26

2002 World Series of Poker

A summary of 2002 world series of poker.


Thirty-two long years separate the World Series of Poker from its humble beginnings in 1970 to its state in 2002. Indeed this gap has made a lot of differences on the tournament -- wonderful differences that is. From its humble beginnings, it has transformed itself into a high-stake, all-star tournament which poker aficionados from all parts of the world look out for.

Before coming up with the success and prestige it enjoyed in 2002, the WSOP went through a lot of trying hardships, welcome changes, and even incessant controversies. Its origins can be traced to Tom Moore's invitational poker game held in 1969. The following year, Benny Binion pulled all the breaks that formalized the WSOP as an annual event at the family-owned Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tournament was then composed of several cash games like five-card stud, seven-card stud, and Texas hold'em among others.

Aside from the narrow selection of games, crowd attendance was also another factor that experienced huge transformation. During its early years, the WSOP was merely a game between small groups of people. This small group ballooned to hundreds and then thousands as several innovations on the tournament have been added. These innovations included its treatment, its coverage, and the cash prize at stake. In addition, the outcome of the previous years' tournament basically dictated the number of people joining in the succeeding ones. However, when it comes to the popularity of WSOP and poker in general, the credits should go to the Binion family who tirelessly promoted poker to the public.

Almost all success stories include a couple of setbacks and adversities, and it was not any different with the case of the WSOP. The most depressing of these was the death of Benny's son Ted, a death that has been generating curiosity until now. Ted was found dead inside a sleeping bag on his home at Vegas on September 18, 1998. The case was temporarily closed when investigators declared that it was an accidental overdose of heroin and xanax that killed him. Six months later, his sister Becky found the grounds, through her hired private investigator, that incarcerated Ted's live-in girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her alleged boyfriend Rick Tabish. In 2000, the decision to the case was made, proclaiming the couple's guilt. The drama did not end there because the succeeding years that Murphy and Tabish spent in jail were also spent looking for things that will take them out of it. Finally, the odds proved to be in their favor as they were given the opportunity to present another angle with the Supreme Court seriously considering to reopen the case. Whether the convicted couple is guilty of the crime or not is a whole story altogether. The fact remains though, that this piece of misfortune took WSOP's popularity to full steam.

Technology and media also proved to be a bringer of life to the WSOP. Television coverage, for instance, was responsible for cementing the tournament's stature as the ultimate gambling experience, exposing the WSOP in the international arena. Through and through, television coverages vary from a simple look at the poker table to the extensive coverage of WSOP, the events and its people included. In 2002, network coverage became closer to its ideal state with the introduction of the pocket camera, which provided interesting sneak peeks. But that's certainly not all: poker players from around the world have already gained some sort of a fan base, which definitely spiffed up the sport. The pot was no longer just about the money but the bracelet and the popularity that comes with it as well.

These events and transformations produced a lot of memorable tournaments written in poker history books.  However, its 32nd edition, which took place at the Binion's Horseshoe in 2002, was no different. The 2002 World Series of Poker was another milestone tournament mainly because of the eye-popping $2 million prize pot at stake. As the crowds constantly grew by the year, it was no longer a surprise that the event was flooded with poker enthusiasts from around the globe with some 631 individuals taking a chance to emerge as the year's world champion. The players that came in to try their hand and luck at the game were quite diverse, ranging from very famous individuals to virtual unknowns. That, however, did not stop the event from becoming as colorful as the past events; it only contributed to its excitement.

More surprises were revealed as the tournament unfolded. As with any competition, the finals is a much-awaited event filled with wit-bending excitement. This particular series of the WSOP was no different and did not fail to thrill in that sense. Interestingly, none of the four players at the Main Event's final table has ever possessed a WSOP bracelet. Although 2002 was not short of talents and winners, all of them were unfortunately eliminated before the 45th position has been filled, so the rookies were left to compete among themselves down the wire. The game was considerably slow when renowned poker pro Phil Hellmuth, who already possessed more than five WSOP bracelets and a couple of title-close finishes, decided to throw in some spice. He declared that he would go home bald if Robert Varkonyi takes the championship. People watched in awe, carefully keeping track of the tournament's conclusion: whether Varkonyi would go home $2 million dollars richer or whether Hellmuth would go home hairless or vice versa.

The breaks were at first not on Varkonyi's side but it did not prevent the crew from putting up an improvised barber shop in such a short notice. Ironically, the hand that secured Varkonyi's triumph was the same hand that spelled game over for Hellmuth. In that particular turn of events, Hellmuth emerged as the bigger newsmaker of 2002 than world champ Varkonyi. It was a double whammy for him, something that Hellmuth surely had nightmares about.

On Varkonyi's part, this title lent him the appropriate security that made him realize that, indeed, venturing into poker was a good decision after all. He had humble beginnings as a person, being born from Hungarian parents who immigrated to the US and started to live the foreign American life. The same was true in his beginnings as a poker pro: he played on the sidelines for so many years while keeping his job as systems developer of an investment company before finally getting into the shore in 2000.

Varkonyi started out in the satellite tournaments, and in 2001, he decided to go mainstream. The WSOP is the dream tournament for any poker player, and so it was the very first destination that he focused his mind on. Varkonyi's entrance was in the $3,000 No Limit Hold'em game of the 2001 WSOP tournament where he did not fare well, enjoying the experience nevertheless. That sort of attitude made him come back to join the tournament that year, an attitude that certainly was instrumental making him a certified poker king. By taking the risk of losing his money and his wits to the intense games by attending a total of 13 world championship matches, Varkonyi showed the poker world what he was truly made of. In more ways than one, he proved to be just as daring as Hellmuth. The only difference that separates the two is that Varkonyi knows when and where he should use his adventurous side. It was also a good thing that Lady Luck never left his side from the crazy eliminations down to the final table where he had to face stronger challenges.

The year 2002 proved that the WSOP has indeed come a long way. It was also the year that reiterated the fact that the WSOP is a series of games, with players classified in the end as either winners or losers. It was also the same year that Robert Varkonyi proved that he was indeed more than a winner. And no one, even the shaved-headed Hellmuth, can contest that.