The 47th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) wrapped up on July 18 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This year’s event attracted a record number of entrants and set a number of other records. The 2016 WSOP tournament was also notable for the prominence of Canadian poker players on a number of fronts.
Whether you visit the U.S. to take part in the WSOP or visit any of the country’s many poker rooms, it’s important to remember that your winnings are subject to a 30% withholding tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Fortunately, Refund Management Services (RMS) can help Canadians and other eligible non-U.S. residents reclaim a portion or all of their poker withholding tax.
2016 WSOP Recap
The 2016 WSOP tournament, which ran from May 31 through July 18 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, will go down in the record books. This year’s event attracted a record 107,833 entrants, a four percent increase over the then-record 103,512 entrants in 2015.1
This is just the second time the WSOP has welcomed more than 100,000 entrants. With that record number came $221.22 million in prize money, marking the fourth time the prize total has surpassed the $200-million mark.
Over the course of the tournament, 69 official gold bracelets were won with the average first prize topping $555,400. Of particular note, Kristen Bicknell of St. Catharine’s, Ontario became the first Canadian and woman to win a bracelet at the 2016 WSOP.2
Bicknell won $290,768 in Event #46: the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Bounty tournament. This is Bicknell’s second bracelet; she collected $173,944 in 2013 at the Ladies World Poker Championship. Unlike many of those who picked up a bracelet this year, Bicknell only plays poker recreationally.
WSOP Main Event
The biggest event at the WSOP tournament is the final table of no-limit Texas Hold’Em with a $10,000 buy-in. The Main Event determined the final nine competitors on July 18; the November Nine will return to Las Vegas for the final leg of the championship, which runs from October 30 to November 1.
The 2016 WSOP Main Event attracted 6,737 entrants, a nearly five percent increase over the 6,420 who entered in 2015.3 Each of the finalists are guaranteed to take home a minimum $1 million, with the eventual winner pocketing $8 million, a gold bracelet, and bragging rights for winning the most important poker title in the world.
Canadian Griffin Benger will be there at the final table in October. He sits seventh with 26,175,000 chips. Benger is one of the most accomplished players in the November Nine with the second-most live tournament cashes of approximately $2.4 million. Chip leader Cliff Josephy has the most live tournament cashes with more than $2.6 million and two WSOP bracelet wins. Before turning his attention to poker, Benger was a professional player of Counter-Strike, a multi-player, first-person-shooter video game. Benger was also once the top-ranked online poker player in the world.
Top 3 Live Poker Rooms in America
Below is a list of three of the biggest, most popular live poker rooms in America.
Foxwoods Resort Casino
Foxwoods is the largest casino on the East Coast. Located in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation, Foxwood is a complex of six casinos.
The 345,000-square-foot casino has 4,800 slots, over 250 tables, a 3,600-seat bingo hall, keno, and a two-storey arcade. As for poker, with more than 140 tables, Foxwoods Resort Casino has the largest poker room on the East Coast. With daily tournaments, you can play no-limit hold’em, hold’em, stud, Omaha, horse, and razz, among other games.4
The Commerce Hotel Casino
If you think Las Vegas is the home of poker, you’d be wrong. It’s California. Located just minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, Commerce Casino is the world’s largest poker casino. Here you’ll find non-stop poker for every skill level on more than 200 tables featuring virtually every kind of poker. Commerce Casino is home to the L.A. Poker Classic, California State Poker Championship, L.A. Poker Open, Commerce Hold’em Series, and daily tournaments.5
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
Another East Coast casino, Borgata is the biggest casino in Atlantic City. It covers 161,000 square feet with over 3,000 slots and more than 180 table games. It also has one of the biggest poker rooms in the country. The poker room has 85 tables where you can try your hand at stud, Omaha, hold’em, or any other variations of poker.6
U.S. Poker Winnings Subject to 30% Withholding Tax
Poker players from all over the world visit the U.S. to gamble. And poker is one of the top games. Unfortunately, most non-U.S. players are not aware that their winnings could be subject to a 30% withholding tax.
Significant winnings, typically over $1,200, are considered income by the IRS and taxed at 30%. If you win $5,000 playing poker, the casino will only give you $3,500; the IRS will get the rest. Bicknell won $290,768 this year, but was only able to collect $203,537.60; the IRS kept $87,230.40.
If, however, you live in a country like Canada, which has signed a U.S. tax treaty, you may be eligible for a refund.
There are a number of countries that currently do not have a U.S. tax treaty. However, if you reside in any of the following countries, you could still be eligible for a refund: Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Mexico, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.A.E.
To see if you meet the criteria and are eligible to get some or all of your withholding tax back, contact RMS.
RMS, the Easiest Way to Get Your 30% Withholding Tax Back
If you’ve travelled to the U.S. and had 30% of your poker winnings withheld, RMS can help you recoup a portion or all of your taxable winnings. Founded by a chartered accountant in 1998, RMS is the most trusted poker tax recovery source, having successfully completed the most U.S. gaming tax refunds. We’ve never been refused an eligible refund.
Many of the Canadian WSOP winners this year contacted RMS to help them reclaim their taxed winnings. For several years, RMS has been an integral part of helping Canadian WSOP winners get back all or a portion of their winnings that were withheld by the IRS.
Only RMS has the One Simple StepTM process. Our customer service agents take care of the rest. Once you provide us with complete documentation, your claim will be processed and we will submit it to the IRS. It can take a minimum of one year for the IRS to review the claim and for RMS to receive the refund.
1. “47th Annual WSOP Sets Attendance and Several Other Records,” World Series of Poker web site, July 16, 2016; http://www.wsop.com/news/2016/Jul/7889/47TH-ANNUAL-WSOP-SETS-ATTENDANCE-AND-SEVERAL-OTHER-RECORDS.html.
2 “Kristen Bicknell Becomes First Female Gold Bracelet Winner of 2016 WSOP,” World Series of Poker web site, June 30, 2016; http://www.wsop.com/news/2016/Jun/7838/KRISTEN-BICKNELL-BECOMES-FIRST-FEMALE-GOLD-BRACELET-WINNER-OF-2016-WSOP.html.
3. “Event #68: $10,000 MAIN EVENT No-Limit Hold’em Championship,” World Series of Poker web site, July 19, 2016; http://www.wsop.com/tournaments/updates.asp?grid=1232&tid=14968.
4. “Slots,” Foxwoods Resort Casino web site; https://www.foxwoods.com/slots/.
5. “Poker Games,” Commerce Hotel Casino web site; http://www.commercecasino.com/games/poker-games/.
6. “Casino Slots, Tables & More,” Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa web site; https://www.theborgata.com/casino.