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Kevin Smith

Internet Poker again Drives WSOP Success

19 July 2005

Online poker rooms once again played an integral part in the World Series of Poker, the game's biggest event.

The six-week tournament concluded Saturday morning with the crowning of Australian Joe Hachem as the champion of the No Limit Hold 'Em main event. With the win, Hachem netted the $7.5 million prize for first place and the coveted gold bracelet. All the players who made it to Friday's final table took home at least $1 million.

For the third year in a row, a record number of players (5,618) entered the main event, with nearly half of them earning their $10,000 buy-ins by winning satellite tournaments held at online poker sites. again made the biggest splash, although Hachem's victory ended a remarkable two-year run for site, which sent both of the previous two year's champions (Chris Moneymaker in 2003 and Greg Raymer in 2004) to the main event.

Last year the top two finishers and four of the nine finalists in the main event qualified through This year the site sent 1,116 players to the main event, and two of them lasted until the final table. All told, 104 qualifiers finished in the money in 2005, winning a collective $7.368 million in the main event., meanwhile, sent 660 players to the main event, and two of them advanced to the nine-person final table.

Paradise Poker, another popular online poker site, had 18 qualifiers finish in the money at the main event, with its highest qualifier finishing in 48th place and taking home $173,000.

The biggest "name" going to the final table was probably Mike Matusow, who represented FullTiltPoker's "Team FullTilt, a group of touring professional. Matusow, a longtime pro, was the first to exit and took home $1 million for his efforts.

Harrah's Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker, doesn't keep records of where or how players qualify for the main event, but observers estimate that anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent of the 2005 field qualified through online tournaments and satellite events.

Pro Beats Bot

Organizers for the first ever World Series of Poker Robots said their tournament, which pitted the best computer programmers--via their poker "robots"--against each other, was a smashing success as 2 well.

The event featured programmers from India, Canada, Hong Kong and the United States pitting their poker bots against each other in a tournament format. The winner, Hilton Gibbons, got $100,000 for his efforts and was invited to a heads-up game against poker pro Phil Lakke (a.k.a. the "Unibomber"), who proceeded to topple Gibbons' bot.

Humans prevail in poker for the moment, but University of Alberta professor Jonathan Schaeffer, who was involved in the event, said it may just be a matter of time before the tables are turned.

"I don't think that there's a program today that would be a strong favorite versus a human," Schaeffer said, but he added that one-on-one limit Hold'Em glitches can be solved, thereby enabling a computer to play perfectly.

It took more than 300 hands for Laak to put away "PokerProbot," and after the action, Laak acknowledged that most average players would have a tough time against it.

"It would for sure make money online," Laak said. "At least in the simpler versions of Texas Hold'Em, with betting limits, bots are better than the average person."

Internet Poker again Drives WSOP Success is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith