The existence of online poker sites like the one offered by Betfair have really increased the popularity of a game that used to be the preserve of hardcore card games fans. However, although there are numerous poker tournaments and Online Poker games available through online sites like Betfair Poker, when it comes to this area there is no question that the biggest of them all is the World Series of Poker (WSOP) which attracts most of the best professional poker players from around the world to compete in high stakes games.

This year’s WSOP attracted a field of around 6,600 competitors indicating just how good a player you have to be to make it to the final stages. The majority of the time those who get to this stage of the tournament are professional poker players, and to a certain extent this year was no exception as two of the three players who made up the final three – Greg Merson and Jesse Sylvia – are professional players; but the surprise was that the player who claimed the other place was not a professional at all, but a college student.

Jake Balsiger is a senior at Arizona State University, but succeeded in knocking out Russell Thomas to make it to the last three of the tournament. This left him facing Merson and Sylvia in a battle of no-limits Texas Hold’em for the title. However, despite being eliminated in fourth position, it is unlikely that Thomas – another amateur – will be that disappointed as he claimed $2.85 million in winnings. Although Balsiger did not manage to complete the fairytale by winning the tournament – which was claimed by Greg Merson – the fact that two amateur players made it so far in this year’s WSOP (and secured serous financial rewards into the bargain) only goes to demonstrate why more and more people are developing an interest in the game.