The 54th edition of the WSOP commenced on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the renowned annual event. The inaugural tournament, the $500 Casino Employees event, exclusively welcomed participants from the gambling industry.
The customary announcement, “shuffle up and deal,” was made by Jack Effel, the Vice President and Tournament Director of the WSOP. In a solemn moment, Effel led the players in honoring the late Doyle Brunson, a legendary figure in poker and a ten-time WSOP bracelet winner. Brunson, who attended the first summer series in 1970, passed away at the age of 89 earlier this month.
Effel expressed gratitude for Brunson’s immense contributions to the WSOP and the poker community, emphasizing his role as an ambassador for the sport and his pivotal role in popularizing it. With over 50 years of collaboration, Brunson’s legacy served as a driving force for the organizers, who aimed to surpass previous records during this summer’s series as a tribute to him.
A tribute video honoring Brunson was shown to the players, and it can be viewed below.
Brunson’s funeral took place privately in late May. However, his son Todd Brunson, a fellow member of the Poker Hall of Fame, announced on Twitter that a public celebration of his father’s life would be held during the WSOP, open to all who wish to attend.
This year, the WSOP returns to the Las Vegas Strip for the second consecutive time, hosting events at both the Paris Casino and the newly-renamed Horseshoe Casino. The tournament organizers anticipate a historic turnout, aiming to make this edition the largest in the series’ history. Over the course of May 30 to July 18, 95 live events are scheduled to take place.