WSOP Exceeds Expectations
Sully Erna, lead singer of Godsmack, shares a laugh after doubling his winnings by going all-in during the opening round of the World Series of Poker's main event Friday at the Rio. So much for predictions. Harrah's Entertainment executives thought the championship event of the 2006 World Series of Poker would top out around 8,000 players. After the first day in the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold'em competition at the Rio, Harrah's officials said 8,604 entries were accepted by 2:30 p.m. By Monday afternoon, when entries will be cut off, the tournament field could see more than 9,000 players. "It's pretty amazing to have this number of players in here," World Series of Poker communications director Gary Thompson said Friday. The Rio's makeshift tournament poker room in its convention center can accommodate up to 2,000 players per session -- 200 10-player tables. As players bust out in the first two hours, however, Thompson said alternate players are being added. "It really depends how quickly players bust out in the first two hours," Thompson said. "The players entering now are being told they will be added as alternates." Thompson said 10 players are added at a time to form one table. Players at tables that lose players shift to other tables. As the number of entries increases, so will the prize money. As of Friday afternoon, more than $80 million will be awarded in the final event, with the winner, who will be crowned Aug. 10, taking home more than $11.7 million. The world championship event is the largest field in the 37-year history of the World Series of Poker.
Last year, 5,619 players entered the main event and World Champion Joseph Hachem of Melbourne, Australia, took home $7.5 million.
The opening round of the world championship event will span four days, concluding on Monday. Each day, the field will be cut to 800 players. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 3,200 surviving players will compete until 1,400 are left.
Beginning next Friday, after a one-day break, the 1,400 remaining competitors will play on a daily basis until nine remain for the final table.
World Series of Poker commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said the first 38 of 46 total events has generated 35,727 total player entries, which includes a global field of players from more than 50 countries.
By the time the World Series of Poker concludes, the number of entries and prize pool, which is approaching $100 million, will set tournament records.
Celebrities such as "Spiderman" star Tobey Maguire, Mekhi Phifer from "ER," James Garner of "The Rockford Files" and boxer Antonio Tarver paid their $10,000 entry fees to play on the first day. Poker pros Gus Hansen, Eli Elezra, Michael Mizrachi, Barry Greenstein and Juan Carlos Mortensen also took to the tables Friday.