Deal ’em!

Jun 27, 2006 12:46 AM

The 37th World Series of Poker gets underway this week at the Rio, where more than 20,000 players from 40 countries around the world are expected to compete for a prize pool in excess of $110 million.

Last year, more than $105 million was paid to players. This year’s tournament features 45 events played from June 25 to August 10.

The championship, $10,000 buy-in event is expected to attract up to 8,000 players, who will compete for a top prize of $7.5 million.

Last year’s featured event attracted slightly more than 5,000 players.

In addition to attracting the largest field ever, the WSOP will reach its broadest audience by leveraging the largest global television, Internet, mobile gaming, radio and print media alliances in the tourney’s history.

WSOP officials said they expect to process more than 1,000 media credential request this year.

The World Series is now in its second full season at the Rio. It was previously held at Binion’s, where it was born in 1970.

Since then, the total prize pool has increased from $30,000 to nearly $106 million.

"The World Series of Poker is the ultimate expression of excellence in poker," said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "But we’re not taking our position for granted. Every aspect of the business is getting a fresh look."

As the size of the event has increased, the WSOP has made needed changes to facilitate handling the massive crowds.

This year, players and spectators will benefit from improved food and beverage offerings, a new smoking policy and increased restroom facilities adjacent to the tournament area.

There has also been added the first $50,000 buy-in event — a multi-gamed H.O.R.S.E. event that is a favorite of many professionals.

The H.O.R.S.E. event features rotating levels of Hold’em, Omaha/8B, Razz, Stud and Stud/8B. With such a high buy-in, the prize pool could become astronomical.

And, as with the other events, there will be a satellite so players can gain entry without forking over 50 G’s.

Satellites, in fact, kicked off the competition on Sunday. And, over the course of the tournament, they are expected to be key to participating.

Here is a summary of WSOP satellites:

”¡ Single table satellites offer the chance to win a seat into a bracelet event. The winner receives buy-in chips plus cash.

”¡ Super satellites give players the chance to win a $10,000 seat in the World Championship event. The buy-in is $225 with unlimited $200 re-buys.

”¡ $1,060 Mega satellites awards as many $10,000 seats as there are players remaining in the tourney.

The World Series’ third annual Tournament of Champions kicked off on Sunday, and by press time Monday the final table consisted of Kido Pham, Chris Ferguson, Darrell Dicken, Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Andrew Black, Mike Sexton, Gus Hansen, Chris Reslock and Daniel Bergsdorf.

The TOC is a freeroll tourney that features the top World Series and World Series Circuit winners of the past year. This year there were 27 entries. The winner receives $1 million.