Who is next?

Jul 3, 2007 5:02 AM

As the World Series of Poker (WSOP) enters its fourth week of high-stakes competition, excitement is building toward the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em championship event, which kicks off on Friday.

WSOP officials aren’t predicting whether the field will top last year’s record 8,773 entries.

But they have added a fourth start day and increased the number of tables in the main tournament room at the Rio.

"We want to ensure that we’re able to provide a comfortable experience for all players who want to enter the main event," said Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director. "Adding a fourth start day will allow us to do that."

The main event traditionally draws the largest field of contestants. Last year’s 8,773 players, however, included several thousand who qualified via online poker satellites and promotions.

Because of the Internet gambling ban approved last October, the WSOP won’t be able to accept "third-party" entries from online casinos.

However, outfits such as PokerStars and Full-Tilt Poker have already awarded thousands of $10,000 seats into the main event.

It will be interesting to see how many of those players actually use the cash (plus a couple thousand for expenses, usually) to enter the tournament, or simply pocket it or play in a smaller event.

Players who register for the main event will be able to choose Day 1A, 1B, 1C or 1D — July 6, 7, 8 or 9 — as their starting day.

Because the field is usually sliced in half after the first day, Effel said there will be two Day 2s (2A and 2B) on July 10 and 11. Main event play starts at noon each day.

If the fields for the events held so far are any indication, expect record numbers on Friday.

The latest field to smash an attendance record occurred last Saturday, when 3,151 players entered the $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event.

The record field was the most players to ever compete on a single date in the 38-year history of the World Series.

The record number surpassed the previous high mark of 2,998 players set in Event No. 3 in this year’s World Series.

That record-setting field follows on the heels of the largest ladies tournament and the largest seniors tournament in World Series history.

And no less than seven events have attracted fields in excess of 2,000 players.

With those numbers in mind, it makes breaking the main event’s attendance mark somewhat of a shoe-in.

We’ll know on Friday.