My first experience of Rio de Janeiro and a look back at poker’s journey from the 1970s to the present

I recently returned from the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS South America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was an amazing festival held at the beautiful Copacabana Palace Hotel. The partypoker and partypoker LIVE teams deserve tremendous kudo’s for the job they did in setting up the room(s), creating a phenomenal atmosphere to play in, and putting on an incredible MILLIONS event. Bravo!

Personally, I didn’t do well financially as I min-cashed the first $1k event but bombed out in the $10k main event and $10k hi-roller. Even with that, however, I know how lucky I was to experience traveling to another country to which I’d never been – all because of poker. (It’s probably not so good, however, when your highlight each day is looking out your window, but with this view, you have to appreciate life!)

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been around long enough to see how poker has grown globally. It’s really pretty incredible. And for poker players who are lucky enough to travel the globe to play poker and/or to those who win a package to a MILLIONS event on partypoker, I say, “Appreciate the opportunity and enjoy the experience whether or not you’re able to win money while you’re there.” When you’re in a rocking chair on the porch in your senior years, you’ll smile and remember those times you traveled to different countries (and went busted). Make memories while you can.

We all know how tough it is to make final tables at big-time poker events, let alone get the “W”. But to have the opportunity to make what is life-changing money for most by winning one, to say nothing of the personal satisfaction of accomplishing a goal, is so satisfying. It’s pretty much every poker player’s dream. There’s nothing like it and it makes all the suffering and bad beats along the way well worth it. Hopefully, winning a MILLIONS tournament or a WSOP bracelet will happen for you one day.


Poker pay outs through the decades – 1970s to 2010s

Let’s go back in time and allow me give you an idea of what it was like in the old days. The only poker tournament in the world in the ’70’s was the WSOP. In the ’80’s, Amarillo Slim (poker’s primary ambassador for 25 years) put on another festival, Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, first in Las Vegas, then Reno, and then Lake Tahoe. And here’s something that will surprise you – for the first few years of the Super Bowl of Poker, Slim only paid three places in his tournaments – 60%, 30%, and 10%! Can you imagine? (FYI, my first tournament cash was at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker in Lake Tahoe, 3rd in Razz in 1981. :)) Needless to say, due to player pressure, he finally caved in after a few years and started paying more places. Other tournaments came along after these two.

My first tournament cash – it wasn’t much ūüėČ

My first experience playing the $10k main event at the WSOP came in 1991. I’d wanted to play it for years, but didn’t really play NLH at that time. Much more relevant, I didn’t have $10k to enter. You have to realize that back then, all any poker room in the U.S. offered was limit poker. There wasn’t a NLH game anywhere in the country on a daily basis (and basically, it stayed like that ’til the WPT was created in 2002). It was Limit Hold’em, Limit Seven Card Stud, and Stud 8 or Better with some Limit Omaha 8 or Better and PLO sprinkled in.

Anyway, I won my seat into the WSOP main event in ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, and ’95 by winning a $200 satellite. (Those were extremely popular in those days, and would be again if a location had the space to run them.) Pretty incredibly, I cashed in four of those five events! In ’91, my first time in the main event, I was so excited just to be in the field. They were 215 entrants and it paid 36 places. I finished 24th and got $9200 – yes, the third table yet I still got less than the buy-in! (I was so happy to cash. Hey, I was broke and made $9k!) When you look at the payout schedule, you just think, “Wow!” How could a guy finishing 10th (Robert Turner) in the ME of the WSOP only get $11.5k, not much more than the buy-in and the winner get $1m, almost 100 times more?

Here was that payout schedule for the 1991 WSOP main event:
1) $1,000,000 (won by Brad Daugherty)
2) $402k
3) $201k
4) $115k
5) $69k
6) $34k
7) $28k
8) $23k
9) $17k (Donnacha O’Dea – just a little needle for him)
10-18) $11.5k
19-27) $9.2k
28-36) $8k

This just gives you some idea how things have changed over time regarding the growth and payouts of tournament poker. I’m sure we would all agree that today’s payouts are far better. If you cash on the MILLIONS tour, for example, you get at least twice the buy-in. (Thank you, Simon Trumper!)

Next on the MILLIONS tour

And speaking of the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS tour, I hope to see you at the next stop, MILLIONS North America at the fantastic Playground Poker Club in Montreal, Canada, May 17-26, 2019. I truly believe it’s the most well-run poker room in the world, with the best dealers from top to bottom in the world. This festival will be HUGE with multi-millions in guaranteed prize money.

Check out the schedule for MILLIONS North America here¬†and the satellite schedule¬†showing how you can win a package to MILLIONS North America as well as other upcoming MILLIONS events. My advice, “Go for the gusto and try to win a package to MILLIONS North America!”

Good luck!

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