12 Things You'll Be Talking About At This Year's WSOP (And One You Won't)

Every year there is a number of hot topics at the World Series Of Poker and this year is no different. Sure, many of the discussions will revolve around the same tried and true subjects but every year there are new side stories, faces, controversies, etc.

1. What will Harrah's do wrong this year?

Nobody's perfect and everyone's a critic. Each year Harrah's receives criticism for something new and 2007 had some of their more talked about blunders. First, there was the new card design debacle. The cards may have gotten a full page ad in USA Today's pull-out section but they were only used for the first tournament. In addition, the color of the chips were also an issue as there were three very similar colored chips in play at the same time during the Main Event. This added to past Harrah's indiscretions of "extra chips" that materialized in 2006 and constantly changing and oft-criticized guidelines on how dealers' tips have been paid. Who knows what 2008 will have in store.

2. Surprises and disappointments happen every year at the WSOP. Who will be the biggest surprise and what WSOP veteran will come up lame?

In 2007, Tom Schneider won two bracelets and the WSOP Player Of The Year, a number of big name online players took home bracelets, Freddy Deeb won the $50k HORSE and Katja Thater ended the women's bracelet drought while Daniel Negreanu failed to deliver a bracelet to his fans and Scotty Nguyen both surprised and disappointed with his Main Event performance. Who will be the surprises and disappointments in 2008? My eyes will be on Jonathan Little. Will he continue to run white-hot and finally break through in his 3rd year at the WSOP? Also, will some of the big names like Negreanu end their bracelet droughts?

3. What will the effect of additional $10,000 Buy-In tournaments have on the WSOP?

With the number of $10k events now at 8 in addition to the $50k HORSE, does this create an environment for the pros to pick up more bracelets than has been the trend or will the longer, bigger buy-in events keep many of the big name pros preoccupied allowing more amateurs to pick up some bling.

4. Which Online player will pick up some poker jewelry this WSOP? In addition, which poker site will gain the most exposure in '08?

With Online screen names attached to Online players like last names, which ones will walk away with wins in '08? Last year, the most notable finish of Online players occurred in a $1500 PL Omaha event taken down by Scott "Big Rissky" Clements who eliminated Eric "Rizen" Lynch heads up for the bracelet. The Online poker world may have slowed due to the U.S. ban on Online poker but there are still many that find ways to play and the WSOP is still a good way for sites to get exposure. Which site will be most represented by their Online logo at the ESPN Final Tables?

5. Will another woman win a bracelet in 2008 outside of the Ladies only No Limit Hold'em event?

Katja Thater's bracelet win was pretty monumental for women's poker. The win was the first by a woman in a mixed gender event since 2004 when Annie Duke won it. There are plenty of great female players and it will be a topic of discussion whenever a woman makes a final table in what has to be considered a man's world.

6. With 6 of the 8 players holding 5 bracelets active and successful poker players in heavy competition at the WSOP in 2008, will someone break the log jam for 10th place in all-time bracelet wins?

Allen Cunningham became the latest member in 2007 and joined Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Ted Forrest, Layne Flack and Berry Johnston in the 5 bracelet club. With 10 players hovering at 4 bracelets, will one of these players breakthrough for their 6th bracelet or will someone else join the 5 bracelet club first? My money is on Allen Cunningham.

7. Speaking of bracelets, will Phil Hellmuth continue to stand alone at the top of the bracelet winners list?

2008 will be more intriguing than ever with the additional large buy-in events in many games that usually scare the amateur away. Hellmuth has 11 but Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson are nipping on his heels with 10 each. The bigger question might be, will Phil extend his lead?

8. Continuing on the topic of Phil Hellmuth, will his In The Money Finish lead grow or will a Hellmuth stumble allow someone to pick up some ground?

The ego of Hellmuth might be too big even for the Amazon Room at the Rio but he has the resume to back up. With 63 ITM finishes at the WSOP, Hellmuth has a lead of 6 over the next closest player: Men "The Master" Nguyen. After that, there are just 3 other players in the 50 ITM Finish Club: TJ Cloutier, Berry Johnston and Chris Ferguson.

9. Who's next to join the group of players with 50 ITM Finishes?

The odds-on favorite here is Humberto Brenes with 49 with an outside shot of the next player to hit 50 to be Erik Seidel (he sits at 48). In addition, there are 4 other players in the low 40s that could shock everyone and somehow hit the 50 mark before Brenes or Seidel.

10. Plenty of accomplished and respected players do not have a WSOP bracelet. Which player will win a bracelet and no longer be subjected to being a part of ESPNs sob story interview?

What do Anthony Couisneau, Billy Gazes, Surindar Sunar, Tom McCormick and David Plastik have in common? They all cash frequently in the WSOP and none of them have won a bracelet. Add in players like Paul Wasicka, Tuan Lam, Richard Lee and Gavin Smith as well to that group.

11. Will the WSOP Main Event Field Size be larger or smaller in 2008?

In 2003, Chris Moneymaker pulled off an unlikely run to take down the WSOP Main Event. Moneymaker takes a beating in poker circles for his huge win in the "inflated field size" era that really wasn't the case all that much that year with just 839 players participating. In 2004, when Greg Raymer won, the field hit 2576. In 2005, the field more than doubled to 5619 when Joe Hachem took it down. Jamie Gold took hom poker's biggest prize in 2006 when the field grew to 8773. Finally, there was a reduction in 2007 when Jerry Yang bested 6357 other players for WSOP glory. Will the field size (affected in 2007 by the Online Poker Ban and subsequent alternative method paying out $10k seats for the Main Event) grow or shrink in 2008? My bet is grow… slightly!

12. Will the title of youngest bracelet winner change hands yet again in 2008?

Unless there is a change in the legal gambling age prior to May, this record is firmly in the hands of Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad who won the Main Event at the WSOP Europe in 2007, the day before her 19th birthday.

13. Will a pro snap the amateur winning streak at the Main Event?

This is a burning question every year since Robert Varkonyi and Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event back-to-back. Granted some of them have become pros since, the winners from 2004-07 have all been amateurs as well. In addition, every year a pro goes deep only to fall short. Dan Harrington in 2004, Mike Matusow in 2005, Allen Cunningham in 2006 and Lee Watkinson in 2007 all came close but fell short. Who will the 2008 hopeful be and will they take it down? What would a pro winning the Main Event do for the poker world?

Article by Member bj316