In just a week and a half, the greatest spectacle in the poker world, the World Series of Poker, will be getting started for the 43rd time in Las Vegas.  Every summer, thousands of poker players flock to the Rio to put their money down for a shot at millions, instant fame, and that coveted gold WSOP championship bracelet.  Whether you are a seasoned casino veteran, a young online poker pro, or just an amateur with a passion for cards, anyone can join in on the fun as long as they have the bankroll to do so. The excitement is building up, and now we bring to you the top 5 storylines heading in the 2012 WSOP.

5. New Rule Changes– This is probably the biggest storyline for many of the big name pros themselves. Daniel Negreanu is the name that comes to mind in regard to this change. He was very vocal last year when the WSOP announced what was basically a “no talk” rule. Essentially, players were not allowed to talk to their opponents about either their hand or their own hand, a technique that several savvy pros have been using for years to gain valuable little bits of information. That rule has changed this year, as players will once again have more freedom to discuss the action involved. This is good not just for the players, but also for the TV cameras, as they had to conjure up ways to to eliminate what had turned into minutes of silence and boredom.  In addition, the WSOP has announced that they will be more lax on the celebration for players, only stepping in and interfering if the celebration is over the top or interferes with the integrity of the game.

4. Million Dollar One Drop- Last year, the poker world was rocked by the news that Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte would organize a $1 million buy-in tournament, with 10% of the buy in going to his charity One Drop, an organization that focuses on provide clean water world wide. There has been a cap set on 48 players, and amazingly, it looks like they will reach that number. So far, we know that Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Jonathan Duhamel, Gus Hansen, and Erik Seidel, amongst several other huge names , will be in attendance. The bigger question is, will this open the door for future million dollar super high roller events, or will $250,000 continue to be the standard for the highest level of buy in?

3. What will Ben Lamb do?– To say that Ben Lamb had quite the summer last year would be like saying that Michael Jordan was pretty good at basketball.  Ben Lamb cashed five times last year, scoring a 2nd, a 1st, a 12th, and an improbable 3rd place showing in the main event. What’s most amazing is that Lamb played in only 6 events. Decent return of investment huh. Now the big question is, how can Lamb possibly follow himself up this year? Hopefully Lamb decides to play in more events this year. That would seem like the only realistic way that Lamb could try to come close to the same success. But who knows with this kid. The sky turly seems to be the limit for him.

2. Will Phil Hellmuth Finally Get #12?– Before the WSOP last year, there were whispers that Phil Hellmuth had fallen behind the curve of the new poker world. The all time leader in bracelets hadn’t really come close to winning his 12th bracelet in a few years, and many thought he was simply a no limit holdem expert. However, just two weeks in, Hellmuth had a big sweat, scoring 2nd place in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven World Championship to John Juanda. A week and a half later, Hellmuth scored another second, this time in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi/lo Championship. Then, it seemed like Hellmuth would make third times the charm, shaking the monkey off his back in one arguably the most prestigious event on the poker calender, the $50,000 Poker Players Championships. However, after missing not one, not two, but three flush draws, Hellmuth yet again finished one spot short, this time to Brian Rast. Now, Hellmuth will be back, hungrier then ever for this 12th bracelet. My guess is that he gets it. He really played fantastically last year, and will be even more motivated after the three heart breaking 2nds.

1. What will Phil Ivey do?– Last year, Phil Ivey rocked the poker world when he announced that he would be skipping the entire World Series of Poker. He did this as a form of protest against Full Tilt, for their refusal to pay out US poker players following Black Friday. To put this in perspective, it would have been like Michael Jordan sitting out  a year in the prime of his career because he didn’t like a decision his coach made. So yeah, it was a huge deal. Now, Phil Ivey is back on the live poker scene, and shocker, he’s crushing it. Ivey took 12th in the Aussie Millions main event in January, then won the high roller event later that day. All signs are pointing to Ivey returning to the felt at the Rio, but the question is, to what extreme. Will Ivey just play the big events while crushing Bobby’s room at the Bellagio? Or will Ivey come back more focused then ever, play every event, and ship three more bracelets. Well this reporter hopes its the latter, but we won’t really know until the series is upon us.

The countdown is on, and in short time, Las Vegas will once again be the place to be. Who will be this year’s breakout player? Which big name pros will be taking home bracelets, and which ones will be struggle to muster up a single cash? Let us know what you think in the comments!