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Getting ready to ‘belly up!’

Jul 24, 2001 4:38 AM

The world’s greatest poker players ante up this week for the 3rd annual Tournament of Champions (TOC) poker tournament at The Orleans Hotel & Casino.

The championship event kicks off Friday with opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m., and the tournament to follow.

What makes the TOC so prestigious, besides the $1 million-plus pot, is that to qualify a participant must hold a title from a previous TOC or World Series event.

Players can also get in if they’ve won a major tournament or a designated qualifying event within the past year, according to Mike Sexton, tournament founder and president.

“More than 200,000 players from around the world competed for the right to be here,” Sexton said.

The TOC format also presents a challenge to tournament players. Instead of a single game, such as No Limit Texas Hold ’em, players must compete in three different games or “disciplines,” which are contested at different levels.

For instance, for the first two days of the tournament, entrants play limit poker in 90-minute levels. Each level will consist of three games: Texas Hold ’em, Omaha Eight-or-Better and Seven Card Stud.

On the third and final day of the tournament (Sunday), players square off in No Limit Texas Hold ’em.

The TOC prize pool is based on the number of entries ($2,000 buy-in): $925,000 for 500 entries, $1.105 million for 600, $1.285 million for 700 and $1.465 million for 800 entries.

First place gets 30 percent of the pool, with 19.5 percent to second, 13.75 percent to third, 10.25 percent to fourth and awards through ninth place.

In addition, the last table paid will receive a fixed amount ($4,000), which increases by $2,000 for each higher table paid.

Last year’s TOC winner, Spencer Sun, took home $239,400. Runners-up at the final table included Alan Colon, Joshua Arieh, Jean-Bernard Bot, Young Phan, Kevin Song, Hassan Habib, Russ Salzer and Anthony Hamilton.

For more information about the TOC contact The Orleans.