“Let me comment that it was the worst bluff of the year, but it worked for one simple reason: it managed to deceive me, the reason for my defeat was to underestimate my rival, I was so tired that I lost concentration.” 
These are the words of Sammy Farha commenting on a legendary hand of the 2003 Main Event. The old-school professional, in his $ 5,000 Italian suits, designer sunglasses and a muffled cigarette in his mouth, began his heads-up against Chris Moneymaker, an unknown player from Tenesse classified online. Farha had a very clear plan: to play small boats and to wear out his rival little by little.
But it does not work.
“I imagined the plan that Sammy had prepared for the heads-up. It was clear that he considered himself a better player than me, so I was going to try to keep the boats as small as possible and use his experience to win, “says Moneymaker.
“I knew the way Sammy wanted to make me play, and I was not willing to allow it.” 
The arrival of the young champions
With 27 years, Moneymaker became one of the winners of the youngest Main Event in history and his victory will inspire a whole new generation of players.
But it got something else: it marked the arrival of a wave of players even younger at poker, a generation without fear, well trained and used to play online that was not afraid to win or lose.
The old school players “could not concentrate”; They were already “tired”.
And the WSOP took advantage of that. There were more and more participants and they were becoming younger. With a wide range of satellites and travel packages, young players with their aggressive style began to be increasingly frequent in the halls of the Rio each year.
What were the key factors in this change? Analyzing the statistics of the more than 40 years of the WSOP together with historical events and interviews with top players, we try to discover the profile of the winners of the future. And our conclusions are that the new generation poker champion will be:
- Slightly greater than the young revelations of the past years, of an estimated age of between 25 and 30 years
- He will have more experience, with prizes both online and in face-to-face tournaments
- It will be more fit and better prepared
- You will be very trained
The rise of poker
Since the beginning of the WSOP in the 70s, when a handful of players met in a game room in Downtown Las Vegas, the number of participants has been growing gradually. [two]
The original $ 10,000 buy-in has not changed since then. In the same way that the popularity of Texas Hold’em has been growing, so have the Main Event figures.
Young and not so young from across the United States connected to the internet to play online poker and, despite the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, a record 8,773 players fought for the Main Event title that year .
With the withdrawal from the US market of the main online poker rooms and the consequent cancellation of satellites, the participation figure fell to 6,358 in 2007, but remained stable during the dark days of Black Friday, when services were cut off. the operators that had challenged the UIGEA in the United States.
Despite the impossibility of online ranking for American players, every day there are more opportunities to qualify in the in-game gambling halls scattered throughout the country.
Children to power
A new phenomenon appeared as participation increased: the age of the winners decreased.
As can be seen in our second infographic, fans like Raymer, Jerry Yang and Jamie Gold were in their thirties when they won, unlike the average age (between 40 and 50) of the winners of the 70s and 80s .
In 2008, the arrival of young professionals was confirmed with the victory of Peter Eastgate. A shy young man of only 22 years old arrived from Denmark broke the historical record of youth in a Main Event champion. He had achieved his entry into the tournament through an online satellite.
A year later, Joe Cada broke the record again for 300 days. 
And these two cases do not mean an exception: As can be seen in the third infographic , the average age of the champions decreases every decade.
Indeed, the average age of the final tables decreases every year. According to the data of the third infographic, the final table of 2004 was represented by a champion (Raymer) of 40 years, a former champion (Dan Harrington, 1995) of 58 years and a second place (David Williams) obtained by a player of so Only 24 years old. 
However, in 2006 when Jamie Gold achieved a record prize of $ 12 million, the average age of the final table was 27 years. 
In 2009, the year in which Cada won, the final table was relatively young with an average age of 31 years, while in the last edition of the WSOP the -possible- tendency of an age below 28 years was established. 
And this is only the average age of the final table. The finalists turn out to be as young as the winners.
What does the domain of the twenty-somethings respond to?
What are the causes of this upward trend of young players getting such good results in the Main Event?
Different factors must be analyzed, so let’s see why the current champions are much younger than 20 years ago:
1 Preparation and resistance
“I remember marathon sessions of 17 hours a day in which he slept during the 90 minutes of rest for dinner,” says Dennis Phillips, who was 54 when he got his third place in the Main Event of the 2008 WSOP.
“The year I did it [in 2008], the days did not end until midnight and – in some cases – first thing in the morning of the next day.”
According to Dennis, everything is based on proper preparation.
“You need to be alert all the time, adjust your biological clock and take breaks when you can, I can see players both young and old, eat an inappropriate menu and start losing pots and playing badly starting at 10 o’clock at night.”
“The Main Event is a very long and demanding challenge both physically and psychologically. Now it’s harder for older players. “
2 Buy-Ins and Initial Stack
The original $ 10,000 registration fee has been maintained throughout the 45-year history of the WSOP. As a result, entry is now much more affordable for young professionals than it was decades ago.
And, even though sponsorships (which involved free participation in the WSOP) have declined in recent years, young professionals who were able to take advantage of them before 2001 have gained in experience.
But at the tournament level, the initial amount of chips also plays an important role in the changes.
Mohsin Charania is a young professional American player with more than 4 and a half million earnings in his career. He has won more than half a million dollars playing online but he also adds victories in EPT, WPT and WSOP in his curriculum.
“The organization of the WSOP changed the initial stack from 20,000 to 30,000 chips a few years ago,” he says.
“These extra chips meant that young people with online experience could play more hands, that 10,000 extra chips have represented a very significant change in the tournament.”
Play online, play more hands
The current champions have been formed playing online. For example, Annette Obrestad who won the WSOPE with only 17 years old in 2007. Her online alias, “Annette_15” gives us a clue as to how old she started playing.
In fact, Obrestad obtained his training playing online before trying his luck in the big tournaments. He took that year of experience to London that it would have taken decades for the players of previous generations to acquire. 
Undoubtedly there are aspects of the face-to-face game that must be adjusted, but there is no denying the fact that thousands of hours of online gaming equals the entire career of a professional player from another decade.
4 The Arrogance of youth
If the players before liked the risk, young professionals still like it more. They understand the advantage of an aggressive and courageous game. The young professionals have gone directly from school to play poker full time, so they do not fear a return to their office work in case they go badly.
And with the levels that are played online, what is $ 10,000 registration? Simply, sit in front of the computer and win some jackpots.
In addition, most young professionals have not yet formed a family, so they have plenty of time available to play and study without the distraction of a wife and children.
5 Training and Social Networks
But today’s professionals not only play a much higher volume of hands than their predecessors. They also have an extra advantage thanks to social networks: the ability to share and comment hands, view videos and receive coaching from other players.
Sponsorship is no longer as common as it was years ago, but coaching and financing agreements have increased significantly. Thanks to them, the player accesses the Main Event at a fraction of the entrance price and does it – in addition – well prepared technically and psychologically.
6 Experience prevails
When everything indicated that the winner of the Main Event for the next few years was going to be a 21 year old player with a lot of accumulated online experience, something changed. It seems – as the last two years indicate – that the experience in live events plays an important role to display a good game in the WSOP.
Let’s see our fourth infographic . When Moneymaker got his win after qualifying online, he added $ 0 in profits to live events. 
Raymer had just over $ 136,000 and Gold $ 101,273 when he won a year later. As the champion’s age declines, so do the earnings before the final table (Eastgate added $ 63,324 before his victory in 2008 while Cada added up to just $ 28,214).
The explanation may be that at age 21 you have not had too much time to play live. But there is something else. The players who now reach the final table of the WSOP Main Event are slightly older – and more experienced – with good results in live events.
The 2012 winner, Greg Merson, had already won a WSOP bracelet that year (event $ 10,000 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em) and a prize of more than one million dollars. To all this we can add 4 boxes in WSOP events and good results in the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour. In terms of online results, Merson accumulated more than $ 350,000 in profits. 
For his part, Martin Jacobson, winner of $ 10 million last year, added multiple good results in events of the EPT and the WSOP. Before his victory he had already achieved almost four and a half million dollars in prizes. 
At present there is a very varied offer of face-to-face tournaments in which players can practice and earn money, so many online winners are making the leap to live tournaments. .
In fact, there has been a significant change in bracelets delivered to under-30s throughout the history of the WSOP.
In 2006, coinciding with Gold’s victory, there was not a single winner under the age of 30 who got any of the bracelets that are given in each event. The following year, there were only two, while last year 10 bracelets were delivered to children under 30 years. [eleven]
In parallel, in 2006 there was a large number of victories in the WSOP achieved by players with an average age of 59 years. In 2014 only 3 players over 50 – including Ted Forrest – got a bracelet. 
Predictions about future WSOP champions
The trend of young WSOP winners (Jacobson, champion last year, was “relatively old” at 27) seems to continue.
Young players prepare with more intensity , take more risks and endure more. Most go to the gym and lead a healthy lifestyle. Two fundamental pillars to face the hard days of the Main Event.
They also have more experience. They spend hours studying videos on platforms such as Twich, many receive coaching and share hands and experiences with other professionals in internet forums.
But not everything comes down to the online experience. The champions of tomorrow need to test themselves and gain experience in live events.
Online phenomena such as Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Annette Obrestad and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom have had a hard time adapting their game live. They get bored when they need many days of game to get a prize they are used to winning in just hours online. Or maybe their superagresive strategy does not work as well in a multi-day live event like the WSOP.
“Joe Cada is probably double the player now than he was when he won [in 2009],” adds Phillips. “[But] he has improved his game a lot, he would have much more expectations of victory now than before.”
“There are few opportunities to play live when you are 18. You can not go straight from playing online to sitting at a live poker table There is a conditioning period for live poker where you have to rethink many aspects of the game . “
Only Chris Moorman, who won $ 8 million playing online tournaments, has made a transition to live tournaments. The British professional has accumulated more than 4 million dollars in winnings in live tournaments since 2008, with a win in the WPT LA Classic 2014 his best result so far. 
In 2003, when Farha erroneously read his rival and fell out he exclaimed “I was so tired that it was not me. I’m a cash player and the tournaments are exhausting. I made a mistake in judgment. “
Would the cheaper tickets mean a new poker boom?
The participation in the Main Event has not been able to overcome the peak of 8,773 players since 2006, but the lower cost events like the Colossus of 2015 (which attracted a record participation of 22,374 players) can mark the future of the WSOP. While the more experienced players participate in the Main Event, fans have the opportunity to repeat the feat of Moneymaker winning the Colossus.
Within five years, the final table of the WSOP Main Event may not be represented by old school cash players like Farha or fans like Moneymaker … maybe not even by profiles like those of Cada or Eastgate. .
All the expectation is now focused on knowing the components of November Nine this year to see what pasta is made the new generation of world champions.