2008 World Series: This show is go

Two thousand and eight. 2008. That's the number on all of our lips this morning as the $10,000 Championship Event of the World Series of Poker gets underway at the Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. It is, of course, July 2008 AD, the 38th renewal of the most prestigious event in the poker calendar. And in the past five of those years, the tournament has become synonymous with PokerStars -- its sponsored players and its online qualifiers have taken the event by storm. Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem are names ingrained forever in World Series folklore, and this year there are 2,008 players who won their seats on PokerStars aiming to emulate those heroes and go all the way to the top prize.

Yep, it's true. In the year 2008, there are 2,008 hopefuls migrating from the online tables of the world's largest online cardroom to the world's largest live cardroom and the game's biggest prize. Coincidence or portent? Perhaps both, but we will find out for sure in the coming ten days.

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Moments ago in the Amazon Room, a trio of celebrities got this thing going. First up, Tournament Director Jack Effel ran through the rules of the game -- no limit Texas hold 'em, no excessive celebrations or cellphone use, etc. -- before introducing the Commissioner of the World Series of Poker, Jeffrey Pollack. Pollack, in turn, gave way to Mr Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, who came showboating into the tournament area surrounded by a harem of majorettes dressed in sky blue and accompanied by a marching band.

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It was Newton's job to get things rolling with the now-familiar instruction to "Shuffle up and deal!" and now we are doing just that.

As ever, the atmosphere is crackling with anticipation and the Amazon Room is alive with the locust-like clicker-clack of poker chips. Inevitably it will be just moments until we have whooping and groaning; suck-outs and bad beats.

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Peering over the room from the press gantry, we can see a sea of players decked in PokerStars clothing, members of the largest team to take on this mammoth field. Among them also are eight members of Team PokerStars Pro starting on day 1A: Barry Greenstein, Katja Thater, Luca Pagano, Ray Rahme, Noah Boeken, Chad Brown, Marcin Horecki and Tuan Lam. We'll be following them all the way.

We'll have a list of all notables, and their chip counts, available by clicking HERE. We're currently sweeping the room to find out all those to keep an especially watchful eye on.

Please feel free to e-mail us at blog@pokerstars.com if a friend or family member has qualified for the main event. Put "URGENT WSOP Main Event" in the subject line, and tell us something about the player so that we can introduce ourselves, pass on messages of support and, most importantly, keep you updated on their progress. The more colour you can give us concerning your friend, the more we can write: how did they qualify, what game do they usually play, who are they here with, what text messages are they sending you as they progress? With any luck, and a great deal of skill, we will be able to tell you all about their progress deep into the money.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The game has just started and there's a long, long way to go. Save us a window on your desktop among all those PokerStars sit n goes, sit back, and enjoy the coverage of the World Series with PokerStars blog.

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As we mentioned here, PokerStars qualified 2008 players for the 2008 Main Event. One of them is Larry Spraker. In the video blog below, he talks about the World Series and playing against Team PokerStars Pro.


Watch WSOP 08: Larry Spraker Online Qualifier on PokerStars.tv