105 stars inaugurate WSOP Europe tournament

Sep 11, 2007 12:15 AM

A star-studded field of 105 of the planet’s top players entered the first event at the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe, staged at The Casino at The Empire, London Clubs International’s newest casino.

Play began with a three-day, ¡2,500 HORSE tournament — HORSE is an acronym for five different versions of poker.

Many of the world’s top professionals entered, including poker legends Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth Jr.  Play continues through Sunday, with ¡5,000 Pot Limit Omaha and ¡10,000 No Limit Hold Em events commencing later this week.

"We’re thrilled to be here and join with players from around the world to make poker history," said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "Betfair.com shares our vision for creating a new poker tradition in Europe and we appreciate the warm welcome and support we’ve received from poker fans, the City of London and the City of Westminster.

"The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas has grown from six players to more than 54,000 in the past 38 years," Pollack said, "and the turnout here in London is just the beginning for the WSOP Europe. We are committed to Europe for years to come."

Much of the intrigue centers around whether the visiting American superstars can win the first-ever World Series of Poker championship contested outside Las Vegas. A leading European pro, Marcel Luske, was the first player eliminated from the field.

The pomp and circumstance of Las Vegas was present in Leicester Square. The day began at the Odeon West End Cinema where, during a press conference, sparks flew between the "poker brat" Phil Hellmuth and UK poker superstar Dave "Devil Fish" Ulliot.

"You may be the King of Europe, Fish," said Hellmuth, "But I’m the King of the World when it comes to poker."

Perhaps, Phil should trade in "poker brat" for "Ugly American."

After arriving in a stretch Hummer, the two poker legends were led into the press conference by a troupe of glamorous showgirls. Following an introduction from Commissioner Pollack and Betfair’s CEO David Yu, attendees got a chance to question two of the biggest names in worldwide poker and view their coveted World Series of Poker Bracelets.  

There is no love lost between these two competitive and opinionated individuals and the press was treated to a bout of their famed "fighting talk" but it was all in good humor and a sure indication of the thrills and excitement to expect over the 10 day tournament.

Additional information, including structures, payout percentages and satellite dates and times for the tournaments, can be found at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.