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Will the 2012 WSOP Main Event Deliver?

After nearly six weeks of action the 2012 World Series of Poker comes to a crescendo today as Day 1a of the 2012 WSOP Main Event kicks off at Noon local time at the Rio. Considering the wild ride the 2012 WSOP has been thus far –with everything from Twitter dust-ups to the Phil Hellmuth/Phil Ivey show, and the Big One for One Drop—it will be interesting to see if the Main Event can live up to its usual hype, and be the defining moment of the 2012 WSOP.

The first thing on everyone’s mind when it comes to the WSOP Main Event is attendance. Attendance is the first metric everyone uses to judge the WSOP Main Event, and regardless of the actual number the key points it will be measured against are: Last Year’s Attendance (6,865) and the massive field that swarmed the 2006 WSOP Main Event (8,773). The WSOP’s goal is to beat the previous year’s attendance number and once that goal is reached the focus shifts to being the second-largest in history (a spot currently held by the 2010 WSOP which saw 7,319 entrants).

Once the attendance number is finalized, the poker world will move on and follow the big names crushing the WSOP Main Event. Every year there is someone who makes a super-deep run in the Main Event (usually landing at the final table) giving the poker community a glimmer of hope that the winner of the Main Event will be an established name in the poker world, something that hasn’t happened since Carlos Mortensen won the 2001 WSOP Main Event!

Big names aside, when the final table bubble starts to draw near the focus shifts away from who is still in, to the storylines of the remaining players, where everything from the last woman standing, to different feel-good stories start to steal the spotlight, and poker fans start choosing favorites.

So what should we expect from the 2012 WSOP Main Event? My guess is that attendance will be down from last year, but hopefully not by too much, and as more and more poker players have become well-known over the past five years (it sort of seems that every player in now a “poker pro”) there will likely be a repeat of last year’s final table where multiple players are well-known in the poker community.

How the final table shakes out will usually define the WSOP Main Event, and hopefully we’ll have a Main Event more in line with the drama and excitement of 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011, and not the fairly forgettable recent WSOP’s like 2004, 2007, and 2008.

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