Get Ready for the 2006 WSOP Main Event - Monday 31st of July 2006

Screw the white picket fence, forget about the little house in the country, and leave the 2.5 kids at home – winning the World Series of Poker Main Event is officially the new American Dream and if you're going to take home the $10 million, you better leave soon.

Honestly, I haven't been this excited about a sporting event since the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. This year's Main Event is going to be something special and just thinking about it makes me giddy.

My only regret leading up to the largest land-based poker tournament ever played – I wish I had been even close to good enough at poker to qualify for the thing.

Seeing that a.) It's too late for me to qualify, and b.) You don't really care to hear my woeful lamenting or bad-beat stories, let me give you a few insightful nuggets about how to enjoy poker's biggest week.

1.) Throw a Big Old Party

The problem with the Superbowl is that it only happens once a year. In fact, all the major party events – New Year's Eve, Cinco de Mayo, July 4th and General Ulysses S. Grant's birthday – happen only once a year. That's why there's so many of these things, because people like to party. So why not throw the Main Event final table in there? The thing is on pay-per-view. Order it, grab a keg, invite some friends over, and have a little home game party. Your neighbors will thank you.

2.) Pick More than One Player to Cheer For

This sport isn't like baseball or football, you're not a bad person if you cheer for more than one "team." That has it advantages. Let's say you're stuck cheering for a team like the Chicago Cubs. Year after year, your loyalty is rewarded with heartbreak and misery. In poker, it's an acceptable "man law" to have a couple favorites and in all honesty, the volatility of tournament poker makes it likely that your favorite player is no longer involved when the final table comes around. My suggestion: Cheer for a guy named Phil. Chances are someone with that name will go deep.

3.) Follow the Action on the Internet

If you're like most poker fans, the Internet has cost you buckets of money. Therefore, you might as well take advantage of that medium in some way, mainly through the variety of sites offering live updates, feature stories, and even play-by-play Podcasts. Not that I'm biased, but Casino City has the best World Series of Poker feature coverage, including live reporting on the first day and each of the last four days.

The reason the 2006 WSOP Main Event is so appealing is size of the tournament and the massive amount of money in the prize pool. While many poker aficionados claim that thousands of players are bad for poker because they increase the amount of luck required; I completely disagree.

I say the bigger the tournament, the better. It's American. Supersize me, XXXL, presidents wearing 10-gallon cowboy hats - we like things big here in the states so make the field 10,000 people and we'll all be happy.

There was a time when televised poker was one of those shows where you'd be flipping by the channel and think to yourself…this might be worth watching. Now, it's simply must-see-TV.

Fortunately, I'll be at the actual event covering each exciting moment live for Casino City Press (HAHA your job sucks), but if I wasn't going to be in Vegas, you bet your last chip I'd be paying whatever it costs to see the final table live on pay-per-view.

No, ESPN is not paying me to say this. I'm serious. I believe the World Series of Poker Main Event has taken on the significance of the Superbowl, the World Cup, or even the United State Curling Championship…this thing's going to be huge.

Here's what it's going to look like…

1.) Around 8,000 players will compete for the WSOP No-Limit Hold'em World Championship bracelet. There are so many people clamoring to get in this thing, they may seat up to 500 alternates per day.

2.) The event will start with four "heats." Each day, WSOP officials will seat 2,000-2,500 people and play until only 800 people remain. Once it's down to 2400 players, WSOP officials will hold another two heats, this time with 1600 players each day, played down to 700. From there the players will combine into one field and play down to a winner.

3.) Every professional you've ever heard of will be playing in this one, plus a whole bunch of great players you've never seen before.

4.) Phil Hellmuth predicts around 500 competitors will be under the age of 24, meaning more than 1/8 of the field will have a chance to break his record of the "youngest player to ever win the Main Event." It remains to be seen if Hellmuth is correct, but either way, this promises to be one of the youngest fields in recent memory.

5.) The final table will air on pay-per-view August 10th at 12 p.m. PST. Additionally, Phil Hellmuth will be hosting a radio broadcast live from the final table. It should be a very interesting show, especially if he makes the final table.

Mucking McLane

Ryan McLane is a gaming industry reporter for Casino City and is assigned to the poker beat. Email your comments and questions to him at .

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