The Allure of Big Poker Tournaments

Guest Post by Ivan Potocki, March 16, 2014

big poker tournamentsAlthough poker comes in many shapes and forms, there is no denying that it's at the big poker tournaments where the magic happens. Whether it is a seasoned pro finally getting his first WSOP bracelet, or an amateur on a hot streak walking away with hundreds of thousands in prize money, it is usually a strong, emotionally charged moment after that very last card hits the felt. What is it that makes big events stand out from the crowd, making them the first thing that most people think of upon mentioning the word poker?

They Make Good TV

We live in the age of mass production and a product’s quality is often overshadowed by its marketability. If there is one thing that can certainly be stated about big poker events is that they are highly marketable. All the emotion, suspense, and big cash prizes in the end make for an excellent TV show. Let’s face it, look how popular reality shows are these days. And what is more real than some ordinary guy who got lucky enough to win his seat in a big event for a couple dollars and somehow manages to go all the way and take a cool million back home? Television people know that this is what audiences enjoy the most. This is why the big tourneys make up for 90% of poker air time.

Chasing Dreams

Some people are in it simply for the money, while others are there for the excitement and experience. The simple truth is that the majority of players in big field tourneys aim to make their dreams come true. The shot at the really big money warms the blood of average players, who are captivated by the vision of turning their lives around completely. Anyone can do it, right? You just need to finally catch a break.

If the money doesn’t do it for you, then the adrenaline and competition probably do. Beating several hundred or thousand of players, pulling bluffs and dragging pots all day long, will hardly leave you numbed. The thing is, big tournaments have it all: big hopes, adrenaline rushes, crushed dreams and, of course - poker.

Pros’ Perspective

Professional players are well aware of all this. They know that big prize pools attract players from all walks of life and with varying degrees of poker experience. And, like with most of things in life, only a relatively small percentage of amateurs are able to really brush up their game to the level where they can keep up with the pros. So in the eyes of professionals, big field tournaments are bottomless money pits, and they have a claim on their share of the loot.

major poker tournaments
Don Cheadle at the WSOP's Ante Up For Africa event, Busillis CC-BY-SA-2.0, Flickr

When all this is put together, what we end up is a big battlefield of experience, hopes, and egos that simply cannot fail to meet expectations of any poker player or even a more enthusiastic poker fan. This is why major poker tournaments keep attracting great numbers of players, all year around, and why they will always be the number one thing an average person thinks of when you mention the word poker to them.

(Image of 2006 WSOP Main Event table, Nintendere, CC-BY-SA-2.0,


Ivan PotockiIvan Potocki is a veteran Titan Poker player who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and spent part of his childhood under war conditions. He studied English language and literature and discovered Texas Hold’em while in college. After working different jobs he turned to poker full time and this serves as his main source of income.


Further Reading:  

Lee Davy
The Real Life of a Professional Poker Player

Poker and the Bible

texas hold'em

Texas Hold'em Poker Guide

poker better than sex

Why Poker Is Better than Sex


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