When poker’s ultimate champion is crowned on Aug. 10, the 2006 version of
the World Series of Poker will have broken every conceivable record since
the tournament was developed 37 years ago in a smoky downtown poker room at
Binion’s Horseshoe. In the following months, Jeffrey Pollock will be busy
planning to break all those marks again in 2007. But the other goal for
Pollack, commissioner of the Harrah’s Entertainment-owned World Series of
Poker, is to make the 6-week-long event at the Rio more accommodating to the
legions of poker-viewing fans. “I think we can do a better job of elevating
the quality of the spectator experience by making the tournament room more
user friendly,” said Pollack, who is also Harrah’s vice president of sports
and entertainment marketing. The attendance at professional poker’s
signature event will see a marketable increase starting today. The opening
round of the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em World Championship event
will kick off at noon.
Through Monday, up to 2,000 players a day will play until 800 remain after
each session. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the 3,200 surviving players will
compete until 1,400 are left.
After a one-day break, the 1,400 remaining competitors will play on a daily
basis beginning Aug. 4 until nine remain for the final table.
Two weeks after it all begins, the ultimate champion will take home at least
$10.5 million, a figure that will increase as the number of tournament
Harrah’s is anticipating close to 8,000 entries in the world championship
event. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 7,500 players had signed up to
The Rio’s makeshift tournament poker room in its convention center can
accommodate up to 2,000 players per session, which is the reason for the
four-day opening round.
Without a card having been dealt in the championship event, this year’s
World Series of Poker has already rewritten the record book.
With 38 of the planned 45 events already completed, almost 36,000 players
have competed, topping the more than 32,000 that participated in all 45
events last year. In 2005, a record $106 million was paid out in prize
money. So far, $73 million in prize money has been awarded with seven events
left to be played. As of Thursday, the main event had a prize pool of $72
The main event is already the tournament’s largest field ever. Last year,
5,619 players entered and each of the final nine players won at least $1
million. Australian Joseph Hachem captured a record $7.5 million for his
championship run, a figure already certain to be eclipsed.
“That’s really kind of mind-boggling when you think about it,” said Hachem,
who is planning to try and win a second straight world poker championship,
although he knows the odds are long.
“I’m a realist. With 8,000 players, I know the field is full of land mines,”
Hachem said. “When you’re the champion, people are always gunning for you.”
While the main event will draw a crowd, the Rio’s four-day Gaming Life Expo,
adjacent to the World Series of Poker tournament room, is also expected to
attract gambling fans.
Poker patrons can visit 235 booths and 23,000 square feet of retail that
includes poker products, apparel, jewelry, and other items. The expo is free
and open to the public, age 21 and over.
“This is my first time going through the World Series of Poker,” said
Pollack, who joined Harrah’s at the conclusion of last year’s event. Pollack
had previously spent five years in a marketing role with auto racing giant
“The World Series of Poker is a charmed, rich and colorful event,” Pollack
said. “The headlines this year have had some wonderful stories.”
The tournament began at the end of June and the games have produced several
-1989 world poker champion Phil Hellmuth won his 10th bracelet, matching
Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan for the most World Series event wins in the
-21-year-old University of California, Santa Barbara film student Jeff
Madsen became the youngest person to win a bracelet at the World Series of
Poker, when he captured a $2,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em event. About
a week later, he won a second bracelet, taking first place in a $5,000
buy-in Short-handed No-limit Texas Hold’em event.
Madsen, who made three final tables in the tournament for two first place
finishes and a third place win, will return to college with more than $1.4
million in winnings.
– 80-year-old Kuei Chi Chang, who had never played tournament poker prior
until this year’s World Series of Poker, finished in the money twice in a
matter of days. The Las Vegas resident finished 52nd out of 1,068 players in
one event and 42nd out of 415 in another.
“What’s happened so far proves the fact that for an amateur player, dreams
Post at 8:05 am UTC by Jerry
can come true, and for a poker professional, you can make history,” Pollack