If it’s an odd-numbered year, it must mean that the World Series of Poker Europe is on the agenda. Now in its 10th incarnation (the first WSOP-E was played in 2007), the WSOP-E is visiting its fourth different country (following London, United Kingdom, Cannes and Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany) in stopping at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. The series began just a few days ago and it will be running until November 10. The eyes of the poker world will be watching the largest poker enclave in Europe as the world descends for the chance at winning one of poker’s greatest titles.

But what, specifically, should we watch for? Here’s three things that you should keep your eye on as the 2017 WSOP-E schedule rolls out.

WILL THE PLAYERS COME OUT?

One of the most difficult things to gauge in advance of any international tournament series is whether the players will come out for said events. There’s arguably nothing worse for poker than to put on a tournament and not have enough players show up to take part. With this in mind, WSOP-E officials must be able to balance the uniqueness of the European market with the bottom line.

King’s Casino and WSOP-E officials have put up a grand total of €17 million in guarantees on the 11 events that make up the festival schedule, hoping that the guaranteed money will bring out droves of players. Of course, No Limit Hold’em is going to dominate the schedule and, so far, it has done well. Event #1, the €1,000 No Limit Hold’em Monster Stack tournament, had a €500,000 guarantee on its head that was shattered when 561 entries were logged (players could re-enter the tournament on the subsequent day if they were eliminated on Day 1A or 1B).

The real test will be with the non-Hold’em tournaments. Today marked the start of the €550 Pot Limit Omaha tournament (Event #2) which should have a great deal of success due to the popularity of the Omaha discipline of poker in Europe. There are two more Omaha tournaments on the schedule (a €2,000 Eight Max and a €1,000 Hi/Lo version) as well as the penultimate event, the €10,000 Main Event, which has already been seeded with a €4 million guarantee. These tournaments could be the ones that make or break the 2017 WSOP-E.

WHO WILL BE THE WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR (POY)?

Coming into the final 11 events of the overall WSOP, the battle for the WSOP Player of the Year award has become a hotly contested issue in particular because of who is leading it.

Chris Ferguson, one of the people allegedly tied to the fall of the original Full Tilt Poker during “Black Friday,” has surreptitiously stepped back to the WSOP felt and done quite well. In Las Vegas this summer, Ferguson serially cashed at the Rio, eventually making it to the money 17 times, to rack up 898.46 points. That was good enough to take the lead heading over to Rozvadov, but it wasn’t without controversy.

Because of his proximity to the Full Tilt Poker situation and his continued non-apology that he has maintained since returning to the WSOP felt (the WSOP is the only schedule he has played in the last two years; prior to the 2016 WSOP, Ferguson had not cashed in a tournament since 2010), Ferguson has received a great deal of vitriol from the poker community regarding the potential for him to receive the POY award. There are no rules that would preclude Ferguson receiving the award, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t players looking to take him down.

John Racener went to Rozvadov with the express idea of taking down Ferguson and he is within a min-cash of catching the 2001 WSOP Main Event winner. But it is Ryan Hughes, who had 15 cashes at the WSOP this summer, that has drawn first blood with a 20th place finish in Event #1. Ferguson, for his part, is certainly still in the thick of things. Others in contention for the award include John Monnette (who has already declared he will not participate in Rozvadov, along with current seventh-place contender Daniel Negreanu), Raymond Henson and Alex Foxen (who is on the grounds in the Czech Republic).

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE €10,000?

In a departure for the WSOP, the host King’s Casino has put a guarantee on the WSOP-E Main Event. The €4 million guarantee represents the first time that there has been a guaranteed prize pool on the penultimate event of a major WSOP tournament schedule and, with the €10,000 buy in, should see a throng of players come out. The (€4 million) question, then, is are there 400 players (the break-even mark) who will be able to take part in the tournament? While that’s not something you can bet on at destinations like this site here,  it’s nonetheless intriguing.

In the previous eight runnings of the WSOP-E Main Event, only twice – in 2011 and 2012 when the tournament was in Cannes, France – has the number of players passed the 400-player mark (a massive 593 in 2011 and 420 in 2012). The last time that the WSOP-E Main Event was held, only 313 players stepped to the fore for the tournament. Thus, King’s Casino is taking a pretty big risk that their poker palace and the lure of the WSOP will be enough to bring the players out.

Over the next three weeks, the WSOP Europe promises to provide more history for the lauded event. It will also provide excitement for the players and, of course, for all you poker fans out there. Be sure to check out all the action via live stream.

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