H.O.R.S.E. Tournament is "All-Star" Event of 2006 WSOP
On Wednesday afternoon, a new era began at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).Event # 20 at the 37th annual competition, a $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament, is perhaps the most star-studded poker tournament in the history of the game. Like every other WSOP event, anyone can front the cash to enter, but the massive buy-in, the largest in World Series history, has reduced the number of amateur players that have been clogging each WSOP event in recent years. Every table is jammed with a murderer's row of pokers most famous names."We pack a full sports season into 48 days," said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "There's a beginning, an end, now there's a middle, and that's typically an all-star (game) for other leagues."
A quick look at the tables confirmed Pollack's assertion that this event is the WSOP's All-Star tournament, as did the number of spectators, who were crowded four deep along the rail. Barry Greenstein, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Andy Bloch and David Grey were all sitting at the same table as play began, and that was just the beginning.
Phil Ivey was seated with John Juanda and Greg "Fossilman" Raymer at one table, while across the convention floor at the Rio, Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth and Steve Zolotow were also facing off in early action.
One hundred and forty-three players have ponied up the buy-in, which is five times larger than any previous WSOP event, with the first place prize at nearly $1.8 million. Second place will also net over $1 million, and 16 players will cash in the event, with finishers 14-16 earning $137,280.
"When I got here last year, I heard from a lot of top players that there was some interest in an event that would have a little greater sense of exclusivity," Pollack said. "This tournament is our answer to that request. I would have been pleased if we had 75 players turn out, so we're thrilled."
The players are taking it very seriously, with Carlos Mortensen stating that he planned on entering the event even if he had made today's final table in Event #17, a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament, despite the fact that both tournaments are at the same time.
Most players were openly confident about their chances as play started -- they are poker players, after all. Mike Matusow was on the phone with a bookmaker, wandering around the tables to let everyone know the odds in Vegas books for various players to win. Many players shouted out to Matusow, trying to find out where they stood in the hierarchy, with most saying the bookmakers had set their own odds for too long.
Event # 20 is a three-day event, with the first two days spent whittling the field down to nine. The final table, which will be broadcast on ESPN, will be taped on Friday, and will consist only of No Limit Texas Hold'em.