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Kevin Smith

Online Qualifiers Will Have Major Presence at WSOP Final Table, Sites They Represent Will Not

28 May 2004

Five of the remaining nine players heading into today's final-round action at the 35th Annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas qualified through online sites, but you wouldn't know it from watching them play.

Numerous online sites have been represented throughout the tournament by qualifiers wearing branded shirts, hats and other merchandise, but tournament officials have announced that the branded items will be banned at the final table.

Officials from both Harrah's Entertainment, which now owns Binion's and is running the tournament, and the tournament itself declined comment on the decision, but confirmed that such a policy exists.

An official with one online site that sent more than 200 players to the tournament said the decision to must have come from ESPN, which will once again televise the tournament.

"They are trying to keep all that stuff to a minimum," he said. "I am sure Harrah's didn't object to the idea either, but ESPN is paying a lot of money to broadcast the event and wants to control as much of it as possible."

The representative also said ESPN has refused to allow commercials for online gaming sites to air during its coverage of the event.

"We tried to get on there, but with all the advertising stuff going on right now, they wanted no part of us," he said.

Last year the WSOP ratings on ESPN topped those for the National Hockey League, and the network's coverage of the final table, which spanned two shows, drew record ratings for the Tuesday night timeslot.

The Travel Channel, which broadcasts weekly coverage of the World Poker Tour, also pulled advertisements for online poker rooms after warnings from the federal government that broadcasters are aiding and abetting an illegal activity by accepting such ads.

Despite the clothing and apparel ban, the impact of online gambling on the tournament has been huge. Four of the five finalists came from, the same site that sent last year's winner, Chris Moneymaker, to the event.

The final five players will all be guaranteed $1 million in prize money, and the first to get eliminated today will take home the $470,400 prize money awarded to ninth place.

PokerStars Vice President of Marketing Dan Goldman said that similar to last year, when Moneymaker made his improbable run from $40 online qualifier to $2.5 million winner, PokerStars is gaining a lot of attention from its impressive presence at the final table.

"Our players have already won over $1 million in this event, and they're guaranteed to win between $2.5 million and $12.5 million more on Friday," Goldman said. "If that doesn't highlight the quality of our players and the value of the poker experience they gain by playing on PokerStars, I don't know what will"

The 2004 World Series saw a record 2,576 players enter the tournament, with more than 1,000 of them getting their $10,000 entry fee paid for by winning qualifying tournaments through online sites.

In addition to the four players from, had one of its online qualifiers reach the final table. Action will begin today at Binion’s Horseshoe and is expected to conclude late tonight or early Saturday morning. The winner of the No Limit Hold'Em event will take home $5 million in prize money, more than double what Moneymaker won last year.

The final-table line-up includes:

Greg Raymer: $8,215,000*
Matt Dean: $4,920,000*
Josh Arieh: $3,205,000
Glenn Hughes: $2,275,000
Dan Harrington: $2,245,000
David Williams: $1,575,000*
Al Krux: $1,305,000
Michael McClain: $885,000*
Mattias Andersson: $740,000*

* Online qualifiers.

Online Qualifiers Will Have Major Presence at WSOP Final Table, Sites They Represent Will Not is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith