WSOP kicks off

May 25, 2010 7:07 AM

Poker’s big show kicks off at Rio

Poker players from around the world will descend on Las Vegas beginning this week as the World Series of Poker kicks off on Friday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Last year, nearly 61,000 players from 115 different countries competed in the world’s largest poker tournament, and WSOP officials expect a larger turnout this year.

"Pre-registrations are up this year," said Ty Stewart, WSOP vice president. "We expect total participation will set a record this year."

To accommodate the huge fields, tournament officials said the space allotted to tables has been increased with a maximum of 377 tables available each day, and thus creating the "largest footprint" ever at the Rio.

Now in its 41st year, the World Series of Poker originated at Binion’s Horseshoe in 1970. This year, players will compete for championship gold bracelets in 57 events.

The WSOP’s $10,000 buy-in championship event is scheduled for July 5 and will continue through July 17, when a final table of nine players will be determined.

The "Final Nine" will return in November to square off for the championship.

On Friday, action begins with the $500 Casino Employees no limit hold’em event, and the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship.

The Poker Player’s Championship replaced the old high-limit H.O.R.S.E. event, and is a true test of a poker player’s overall ability.

The Championship format features eight different games: Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo Split, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split, No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball.

The first of several $1,000 No Limit Hold’em events takes place Saturday, and is expected to attract nearly 4,000 entries.

The "bargain-priced" $1,000 No Limit Hold’em events have become the most popular World Series events, next to the main event, and, to the WSOP’s credit, they’ve added several to the tournament this year.

In fact, players can expect to play in one $1,000 No Limit event every weekend of the tournament.

In June, the WSOP will host its World Series’ Tournament of Champions, poker’s equivalent to an all-star game, which will take place on June 27.

A total of 27 players will enter the $1 million freeroll Tournament of Champions, including the three former winners of the Tournament of Champions: Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, and Mike Sexton. Also receiving automatic bids to the Las Vegas spectacular are the reigning champs of the WSOP and WSOP Europe Main Events, Joe Cada and Barry Shulman.

The rest of the field will be determined by votes cast by the general public on the World Series’ website, As of last week, more than 300,000 votes have been cast, will Phil Ivey the top vote-getter. Voting is open until June 15, with the top 20 vote-getters landing seats in the event.

Other significant dates over the course of the tournament include:

• June 3: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship.

• June 9: $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship.

• June 11: $1,000 Ladies No Limit Hold’em Championship

• June 12: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split Championship.

• June 18: $1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold’em Championship (50 years and older).

• June 23: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship.

Finally, WSOP officials said there are no plans to move the World Series, at least this year, to another venue, should Harrah’s Entertainment sell the Rio, whose sale has been rumored for the past few weeks.

Caesars Palace, which is also owned by Harrah’s, has been mentioned as a possible alternate site for the World Series.