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It’s poker time!

Apr 2, 2002 9:20 AM

World-class poker finds the limelight as Binion’s World Series of Poker kicks off Tuesday. The 33rd edition of poker’s premiere event will continue through May 24 with a series of championship tournaments.

We’re getting more response than ever before,” Binion’s owner Becky Behnen told GamingToday. “The tournament continues to get bigger and better every year.”

Champions from around the world will be among the 4,000 players who will compete for the chance at earning a world title and the accompanying famous gold bracelet.

The World Championship Event, No-Limit Hold’em with a $10,000 buy-in, will be contested over four days beginning May 20. The winner will take his or her place alongside legendary poker players such as Johnny Moss, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, Stu Ungar and Johnny Chan, to name a few.

In addition to taking home more than $1 million in prize money, the champion’s photo will forever be memorialized in the Gallery of Champions at Binion’s Horseshoe.

“Last year we paid $1.5 million to the winner; this year it could reach $2 million,” Behnen said.

Overall, the World Series of Poker will pay out over $20 million in prize money, surpassing the $18 million paid last year.

In addition to the Championship Event, the World Series includes 35 other events, including a Women’s Championship, Senior’s Championship, Seven Card Stud, Razz, Omaha Hi-Lo Split, Ace to Five Draw Lowball and Limit Hold’em, to name a few.

This year there is an extra week of new events that have been added to the World Series lineup. They include a Hearts Championship, Gin Championship and Triple Draw Lowball tournament.

In addition, Binion’s will hold a Gold Bracelet Match Play Heads-Up Tournament featuring those players who have won a World Series of Poker event in the past.

“This is something my son, Benny, came up with Âí­”” it’s kind of like a Final Four event,” Behnen said. “The crowds love to root for their Âí­favorite players, and they’ll get their chance in this event.”

This year, players will also serve as commentators, Behnen added.

“The players bring a special insight to the game, and even though some of them are tough to understand, they will be a welcome addition to the events,” she said.

Of special interest to poker fans, Lyle Berman on May 20 will be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. His picture will grace the wall with other icons such as Nick “The Greek” Dandolos, Bill Boyd, Edmund Hoyle, and World Series of Poker founder, Benny Binion.

Lyle Berman is credited as an early visionary in the development of casinos outside of Las Vegas, and in 1996 was named Gaming Executive of the Year. Respected and often feared by fellow competitors, Berman has amassed close to $900,000 in total World Series of Poker winnings.