Records shattered as WSOP gets underway

Jun 2, 2009 5:05 PM

The World Series of Poker kicked off in grand fashion last week as the first three events set new records for attendance and/or prize pools.

The crush to register for some games become so intense that WSOP officials warned that some events would be "sold out" and closed.

The first record-breaker was Event No. 2, which set the record for largest prize pool for a non-Main Event field, when 201 players anted up $40,000 each to create a massive $7,718,400 prize pool.

The previous record prize pool was $7,104,000 (in 2007) – a solid $614,000 behind the new record.

Then, Event No. 3, the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low, had 918 entrants, besting the old record of 833 and becoming the largest live Omaha tournament ever played.

But the most impressive feat thus far has been the sellout of Event No. 4 – a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

Billed as a "stimulus special," it has blown away the then-record 3,929 entrants who participated in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament at last year’s WSOP – by selling a capacity of approximately 6,000 entries.

The new mark means the $1,000 event, which featured two start days (May 30 and 31), is the largest non-WSOP Main Event tournament ever played.

Registration for Event No. 4 was sold out, with a maximum capacity of approximately 3,000 players per start day – or 6,000 players total.

"The demand for the Stimulus Special could be felt the moment we announced it," said World Series of Poker President and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "We welcome all the first-time players to the World Series of Poker and wish everyone good luck in their pursuit of a gold bracelet."

The total prize pool for Event No. 4 exceeded $5 million, with the winner guaranteed to earn more than 750 times the entry fee and the coveted gold bracelet.

Each of the final table participants will receive at least six-figure paydays.

When action began on Thursday, players were surprised to see Jack Binion, founder of the original World Series at Binion’s Horseshoe, step to the microphone and utter the famous line, "Shuffle Up and Deal."

The 40th annual WSOP began May 26 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and will continue until July 15. For the second consecutive year, the final nine players in the WSOP Main Event will return to play in November.