You slowly lift the corner of those two cards dropped in front of you and see mediocre numbers, but, hey, they’re both spades after all, so let’s see that flop – just in case. There’s really just something about spades that jumps off the cards. Whether it’s moronic superstition or if those spades really do bring you luck, when they come, you could just feel more of them coming. Regardless, those two spades in your hand are complemented with two more on the flop. 

Come on baby! 

All you need is another spade and we’re making some big bucks here! Next card: nine of clubs. Doesn’t help your flush, but it does give you an inside straight draw on the river. Final card comes, we’re begging for a draw and… you lose, or should I say Dario Sammartino lost. 

It was in this exact disappointing fashion that brought last week’s World Series of Poker Main Event to a conclusion, giving Hossein Ensan his first championship bracelet and a payday of $10 million.

The World Series of Poker hosts over 100 tournaments each year, but none compare in size, money, or prestige to their annual Main Event. With an entry fee sitting at $10,000; 8,569 players tested their luck in the grand tournament generating a total prize pool to over $80 million. But only about 15% of those entered are fortunate enough to see any returns on their investment. Players who placed between No. 1063 and No. 1286 earned $15,000 for surviving up until that point, but make it to the top 100 and you’d be making upwards of $70,000. And if you manage to have the run of your life and slip into the top nine, there is over $1 million waiting for you. 

It begs the question: is it worth it to join the Main Event? A rational and statistical person would shoot you an immediate “no.” I mean, you would have to outlast 75% of all these presumably intelligent players, predominantly professionals, in order to then make $5,000. Whereas a day of playing Sit and Go poker with $10,000 and that same luck, you’d make significantly more money with the ability to leave whenever you’d please. But these players are not money-hungry card sharks, not all of them at least. They are poker players, they love the game, they love the competition, and they strive for greatness. This year’s No. 5 finisher Kevin Maahs placed in the Main Event for the first time in his career, earning $2.2 million. 

Maahs, upon exiting the tournament, expressed to cardplayer.com, “I think the experience was almost worth more than the money.” So if you’re an age-eligible poker player debating joining the tournament next season, remember it isn’t all about the money; just make sure not to lose your mortgage payment on a game of cards.

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