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Jun 02, 2016

7 Stories to Watch at the 2016 WSOP

By RTR Dennis


The 2016 World Series of Poker has just kicked off, and we're sure to see some incredible stories play out over the course of the event. But what storylines should you keep on eye on now? Find out as we cover 7 big stories that will happen during the 2016 WSOP.

1. How Many Players will Colossus II Draw?
Last year's inaugural Colossus lived up to the hype that it received prior to the WSOP. A record 22,374 players paid the $565 buy-in to compete in what is easily the largest poker tournament ever. The only problem is that participants were disappointed to find out that the first-place prize was $638,800, which seems low when compared to the massive field size. This year organizers are offering a guaranteed $1 million payout to the winner of Colossus II, which WSOP tournament director Jack Effel hopes will push the event to new heights. "Thirty-thousand has been my number all along to be able to handle over the course of the three days and six flights," said Effel.

2. Can Phil Hellmuth Win Bracelet #15?
This is always a story to watch going into every WSOP, and it will be no different in 2016. Phil Hellmuth will once again be looking to extend his record with a 15th gold bracelet win. Last year Hellmuth got #14 after taking down the $10k Seven Card Razz Championship along with a $271,105 payout. He also earned sixth place in the $111k High Roller for One Drop, earning him another $696,821. Things have been pretty lean for Hellmuth ever since, though, because he's only managed a 61st place effort in a 2015 WSOP Europe side event (€2,542). But with the Poker Brat's experience, he's always a threat to win another gold bracelet.

3. Dzmitry Urbanovich Engaged in $2m Prop Bet
We can be sure that there are thousands of prop bets floating around the 2016 WSOP, but the biggest one involves Dzmitry Urbanovich and Vanessa Selbst. Urbanovich is being given 200:1 odds on his ability to win 3 gold bracelets in his first-ever WSOP. If Urbanovich wins 3 bracelets in a single WSOP – something only George Danzer, Phil Ivey and Hellmuth have managed – he'll be $2 million richer. Considering that the 21-year-old has already won over $4.8 million in live tournaments during his short career, don't count out the young Polish player.

4. The Return of Lederer
Along with Full Tilt Poker's other executives, Howard Lederer was ostracized by the poker community for his role in the site's demise. Many players today still loathe Lederer because he never apologized for Full Tilt's failure to ring-fence player deposits from company funds. But last month, Lederer finally issued the long-awaited apology through Daniel Negreanu's blog. Many have taken this as a sign that 'The Professor' would like to play in the WSOP for the first time since 2010. He's already been spotted playing poker at the Aria, so it's not unfathomable to think that he might show up to the 2016 WSOP.

5. Can Robert Mizrachi Complete the Hat Trick?
For years, it was Michael 'The Grinder' Mizrachi gracing most of the headlines for his poker exploits. But his brother, Robert, has had considerable success after winning bracelets in back-to-back years. Mizrachi won his second-career bracelet in a 2014 WSOP Dealer's Choice event ($147,092) followed by another bracelet in a 2015 WSOP Omaha Hi-Low 8's or Better tournament ($251,022). Only Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar, Matt Matros and Michael Mizrachi have won bracelets in three straight years. Could Robert join his brother and these other legends by completing the hat trick?

6. Interesting Tag Team Event
The Global Poker League has made an effort to make poker more of a team game. Now the WSOP is getting in on the act by holding a $1,000 buy-in Tag Team No-Limit event. The rules state that teams will feature 2-4 players, and they can tag in and out as soon as everybody has played at least one round of blinds. There are no restrictions on who can be on what team, which means that we could see some high-powered teams in this tourney.

7. Will We See Another Record-Breaking WSOP?
2015 was another huge year for the WSOP since records were broken for attendance (103,512) and prize money ($210 million). We also witnessed 51 different tournaments pay out over $1 million in prize money, which was another record. With an extra tournament and lineup changes designed to keep the event growing, it's not hard to see another historical year on the horizon. “With the schedule we’ve put together for this year, we are confident 2016 will be another record-breaker at the WSOP," said executive director Ty Stewart.