What's buzzing:

World Series of Poker main event on; $10M prize

AP - Sports
World Series of Poker main event on; $10M prize

View gallery

Nearly 800 players with dreams of World Series of Poker glory started a marathon toward poker's richest prize on Saturday - a guaranteed $10 million payday and a place in history among the winners of the main event.

Thousands more were expected to start the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in Las Vegas on Sunday and Monday, with registrations overall pacing ahead of last year. About 4,000 would-be entrants played in smaller satellite tournaments at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino Saturday in hopes of winning an entry.

''I hope that I can survive Day 1,'' said Michael Musich of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, whose wife rooted him on as he played his first hands. ''They get tougher as it goes.''

Musich played among a field of 771 players with several poker legends, including 1987 and 1988 champion Johnny Chan, who was among the chip leaders after more than six hours. Also playing were 2003 champ Chris Moneymaker, and Antonio Esfandiari, who won an $18.3 million score in 2012 in the series' first ultra-exclusive $1 million buy-in tournament.

From millionaire card sharks to home-game amateurs, players stake $10,000 each for a shot to win millions in poker's most popular variant. The no-limit betting rules mean players can wager all their chips at any time, risking their tournament chances in hopes of gaining more chips.

Those who busted on Day 1 included poker professionals Jean-Robert Bellande and Jason Mercier, as well as MTV reality star Trishelle Cannatella.

Only 10 percent of those who enter the tournament will win any money. Players compete until they bust out or win it all, like Ryan Riess, who won $8.36 million at the main event last year at age 23, topping a field of 6,352 players. Riess played Saturday and nearly doubled his chips after more than six hours of play.

The main event hasn't offered an 8-figure payday since 2006, when Jamie Gold won $12 million for topping a field of 8,773 players. The only other 8-figure top prizes were won by Esfandiari and Daniel Colman, who won $15.3 million in the series' second-ever $1 million buy-in tournament this week.

Series officials hope the $10 million guarantee will draw more entrants, a similar tactic that has worked with smaller tournaments this year at the series.

Phil Hellmuth, one of poker's most famous players who won the main event 25 years ago in 1989, said card players are getting better while the tournament has gone through phases of playing styles. But despite a large number of entries making things tougher, Hellmuth said he still sees an opportunity for the game's best players to finish on top.

''The main event is winnable,'' Hellmuth said.

Poker professional Daniel Negreanu said it's a feat that requires smarts and stamina, plus an ability to perform under the pressure of an atmosphere much different from home games and regular casino games. ESPN films the tournament for 2-hour episodes, and plans to air the final table nearly live in November.

''I'm comfortable under the lights and the cameras. I think it's actually one of my edges,'' said Negreanu, who enters the main event sitting fourth in the World Series of Poker Player of the Year standings, a measure of how players perform over the entire 65-event series. Negreanu said he prepared for this year's series by getting in the best physical shape of his life and sharpening his mental focus and approach.

The last nine players will likely play at least 70 hours to reach the final table, over seven sessions of 10 hours each.

Jackie Glazier, an Australian player who was the top woman in last year's main event, finishing 31st for more than $229,000, said it doesn't pay to make chancy plays early because even quadrupling your starting chips won't matter much as play wears on.

''I think slow and steady to start,'' she said.

A handful of players busted early despite the purposely slow structure, gambling chips unnecessarily in spots where their opponents would surely only call with better hands.

Joe Hachem, the 2005 main event winner who won $7.5 million, said at the start of play Saturday that his first thought back when he started his winning run was that he should just refund his $10,000 ticket and leave.

''But in reality, the only person I have to beat is myself, same as you guys,'' Hachem said.


AP photographer John Locher in Las Vegas contributed to this report.


Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/oskargarcia

View Comments (0)
  • Joint leader of Volvo Ocean Race breaks mast on fifth leg

    The Chinese boat sharing the overall lead in the Volvo Ocean Race was forced to suspend racing in the fifth leg when it broke a mast in the Southern Ocean on Monday. The incident could hardly have happened in a worse spot for Dongfeng Race Team, … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • Greece players suffer minor injuries in fatal car crash

    Greek internationals Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Vangelis Moras and Ioannis Fetfatzidis suffered minor injuries after being involved in a fatal car crash in Budapest on Monday following their Euro 2016 qualifier against Hungary. “All three are in good … More »

    Reuters - 25 minutes ago
  • Ovechkin, Chimera score 2 each, Caps win

    Ovechkin, Chimera score 2 each, Caps win

    The Washington Capitals showed the urgency of a team that hasn't secured a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The New York Rangers haven't looked the same since they clinched their place in the postseason. Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Jason … More »

    AP - Sports - 35 minutes ago
  • Woods drops out of world's top 100

    Woods drops out of world's top 100

    (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has dropped outside the top 100 in the world golf rankings for the first time since 1996. Woods's last major title was the 2008 U.S. Open but he won five PGA Tour events in 2013 and topped the rankings in May 2014 before … More »

    Reuters - 41 minutes ago
  • Russian Union creates role of anti-racism inspector

    The Russian Football Union (RFS) has created a new position of anti-racism inspector, the organisation's president Nikolay Tolstykh said on Monday. "In accordance with a decision with FIFA, the RFS will introduce the position of an anti-racism … More »

    Reuters - 46 minutes ago