Poker players from all over the world converge on Las Vegas every summer in the hopes of taking home one of the game’s most coveted pots. An official World Series of Poker bracelet? Perhaps. However, in this context, we are referring to a different international event that is just as prestigious as the WSOP. Vegas’s answer to the World Cup.
Timothy Adams, a Canadian poker player and the tournament’s organizer, spoke with PokerNews about the event, its requirements, and the possibility of a particular Brazilian PokerStars Ambassador making an appearance in the near future.
The History of the Vegas World Cup
Growing up, I always enjoyed participating in football competitions, and the concept for the World Cup of Vegas was born in 2014, according to Adams. Growing up, I played a lot of football, and I saw that many poker players on the circuit did as well. I discussed the concept with a few people, and there was a lot of enthusiasm.
The event has been expanding ever since, in my opinion, because a lot of guys became hooked.
Seven nations participated in the initial tournament, and in the last seconds, a certain Jeff Gross scored the winning goal for the United States versus Brazil.
“Over the years, we’ve had anywhere between 12 and 18 teams compete. There is a lot of planning going on in the background since I spend a lot of time coordinating and communicating with the captains of each squad.
“I don’t spend my summers in Vegas as frequently as I once did, so when I’m not there, Las Vegas Sports Park and a few pals really help me out. I’m incredibly grateful for it.
“It’s not always simple to coordinate, and there are sometimes hiccups along the road, but for me, the effort I put into it is entirely worthwhile.”
Former winners of the World Cup of Vegas
There have been eight tournaments for the World Cup of Vegas, with six different champions. The United States and France are the only countries to win the tournament twice. Adams claims that a small number of teams have maintained their dominance but that teams from other nations are making inroads.
Spain has been fairly successful in recent World Cup of Vegas competitions, losing twice in the championship game (2019 and 2022). Croatia, another highly excellent team that fell short in the 2021 finals, has been quite successful. The United Kingdom also frequently factors into the equation.
Current tournament favorites are from Austria. Former professional footballer Mario Mosböck leads this group of young men (pictured). Their 2021 performance was one of the best ever, and in 2022 they were heavy favorites but fell short in the semifinals.
The Richard Lyndaker Trophy is also presented at the competition. The former online poker player went suddenly in 2019. He had represented the United States in the World Cup of Vegas in its early years. The tournament’s most valuable player receives this honor.
Adams said, “He was a pretty talented soccer player and he was extremely enthusiastic about it.” I hoped to establish an award in his name.
Competition and rivalry
Adams claims that there is no shortage of rivalries due to the rich history of the competition.
The tension between the United States and Brazil never subsides. Big games have long been a staple of Germany vs. USA competition. The day is exciting, intensely competitive, and incredibly busy for me.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love being the one in charge. It’s become a tradition, and that’s a great feeling of accomplishment in and of itself.
National pride can only get you so far in a tournament like this, and some of the players’ competitive natures will quickly emerge if given the chance.
It’s at a very high level,” Adams adds. And of course, poker players are notoriously competitive. Many men take considerable pleasure in their national service, and this sometimes leads to tense situations.
“Seeing so many winners from so many different eras is really interesting, imo. In most years, it seems like there are only five or six teams truly in the running to take home the championship.”
Famous faces at the Las Vegas World Cup
A quick perusal of a few years’ worth of team snapshots is all it takes to amass a respectable collection of medals: Players and winners at the World Cup of Vegas include WSOP Main Event champion Damian Salas, as well as Nacho Barbero, Romain Lewis, Adrian Mateos, Manig Loeser, Ognyan Dimov, Yuliya Kolev, Andre Akkari, and Byron Kaverman.
What if, though, I told you that a team that had previously won the UEFA Champions League had also entered, but came up just short?
“The Norwegian lads told me that John Arne Riise was going to play the Main Event in 2016 and that he wanted to compete in the soccer event,” the author recalls.
Riise had recently retired from a career that saw him play in the Premier League for Liverpool and earn 110 caps for Norway, albeit he never made it to the FIFA World Cup.
“With his fantastic left foot, he could fire the ball into the top corner of the net from anywhere on the field. Watching Riise play was exciting because he was so competitive and showed genuine enthusiasm for the game. Amazingly, France won the championship while Norway came in second. This further demonstrates how high the bar is set.”
Adams claims that other former professionals have also appeared in games, and that he is still holding out hope that a specific Brazilian will make a cameo.
There was discussion of getting Neymar on the field one day, but it looks like we’ll have to wait till after he retires.
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