Bellagio to host
Five Star poker event

Mar 20, 2006 2:48 AM

Are you ready for some tournament poker?

Then check out the Bellagio, which hosts its Five Star World Poker Classic beginning Tuesday, April 4, at noon with the first of 10 no limit hold ’em tournaments as well as additional satellite and super-satellite tournaments.

The three-week event concludes April 18-24 with the fourth annual World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championship.

Players can register at Bellagio for all of the Five Star tournaments. Entry fees for the no limit hold ’em tournaments range from $1,500-$5,000.

To compete in the WPT World Championship, players may either pay the $25,000 entry fee or earn their seat via winning one of the daily satellite tournaments held throughout the first two weeks.

The WPT World Championship is the culmination of the 17-tournament tour and officials are hopeful to draw a record 600 participants competing for a prize pool of a minimum of

$15 million.

Tuan Le defeated 451 other participants in last year’s WPT World Championship at Bellagio and took home more than $2.8 million for his victory.

The final table for the WPT World Championship will be filmed and will air at a future date on the Travel Channel.

"We are excited to host the WPT World Championship for the fourth consecutive year," said Doug Dalton, director of poker operations for Bellagio. "The pots are getting higher and the number of participants are growing with every tournament. Bellagio is proud to be a part of this phenomenon."

In addition to the reigning champion, Le, other great pros are expected to participate in the WPT World Championship. They include Alan Goehring, T.J. Cloutier, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, Allen Cunningham, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Phil Ivey, Kathy Liebert, Chip Jett, Ted Forrest, Gavin Smith, Barry Greenstein, Paul Darden, Nick Schulman, Freddy Deeb, Jennifer Tilly, Michael Gracz, John D’Agostino, Hasan Habib, Cyndy Violette, Phil "the Unabomber" Laak, Antonion "The Magician" Esfandiari and Scott Fischman.

Players’ odds of going home with big prize money are among the best in the game. With a field of 600 players, the tournament could pay 100 deep — so 1 in 6 would be in the money. If the payout reaches $15 million, all three of the top spots will pay more than $1 million.

The WPT World Championship crowns the WPT’s fourth record-breaking season, bringing the total prize money for the 17 tournaments close to $95 million.

Last year’s WPT Championship field reached 452 players. Runner-up Paul Maxfield of the U.K. cashed for $1.6 million. Previous victors include Martin De Knijff of Stockholm, Sweden, in Season II and Alan Goehring of Las Vegas in Season I.

The international contingent also may include DeKniff, Maxfield, Gus Hansen, David Benyamine, Juha Helppi, Chris Bigler, Mel Judah, Humberto Brenes, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Johan Storakers, Marcel Luske, David "Devilfish" Ulliot, John Gale and Finnish heartthrob Patrik Antonius, among others.

"In our four short years, the WPT World Championship has really become the tournament players’ tournament," says Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "The $25,000 buy-in insures that these players are among the world’s best. However, what’s fun is that this championship is still an open event and anyone with the heart, the courage and the skills can find themselves at the final table, cashing in for millions of dollars."

Satellite tournaments are currently being run by more than 49 land-based and online casinos, many with small buy-ins. For information on satellites, go to www.worldpokertour.com. Bellagio will run tournaments daily beginning April 5 that will award seats in the event and will offer two $2,500 Super Satellite Tournaments Sunday, April 16 and Monday, April 17.