WSOP Event #2: Peter Eastgate gets us started
Back in 1971, when Johnny Moss won the World Series of Poker, few could have imagined how the annual showcase would develop. Moss won $30,000 for his efforts, a nice chunk in change in those days but peanuts in comparison to the modern day. This is the 40th WSOP, and to celebrate the anniversary we're kicking off today with a special $40,000 no limit event - a buy in, you'll note, higher than Moss won for the main event.
Such high-roller showdowns bring out the cream of today's game, those with a bankroll deep and heavy enough to sustain what they would describe as a bad day at the office, and what many ordinary folk would describe as a year's wages.
Don't think for a minute that the "credit crunch" has hit poker - 195 players have booked in (and they're still taking registrations in level one) to take an expensive shot at this four-day event, each sitting down with 120,000 chips but facing blinds in level one at 200-400 with a 50 ante. It's deep, but not so deep you can't see the bottom.
Among them is Team PokerStars Pro Peter Eastgate. The reigning WSOP champion, who won a breathtaking $9.1 million in November, is back to defend his crown. It was his honour to announce "shuffle up and deal" after WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack had praised his champion "style" - and unfurled the Eastgate banner in the Rio's Amazon Room. It's a huge photo with his name and year of victory underneath, taking its place next to all other previous winners in a series of shots that wrap around the room, all the way back to Moss.
Joining Eastgate at the tables is the cream of Team PokerStars Pro, a glittering line up that reinforces the strength of the team. Sharing the same table are Eastgate and Barry Greenstein, while elsewhere we have Gavin Griffin, ElkY, Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, Humberto Brenes, Joe Hachem, Ivan Demidov, Dennis Phillips and Chris Moneymaker. Also here are two members of Team PokerStars Germany Pro: Florian Langmann and Johannes Strassmann, and Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen.
That's an impressive bunch and you can follow their progress right here on the PokerStars Blog. After yesterday's event #1 for casino employees, we're now bunkered down in media row overlooking the Amazon Room, where we'll be for the next seven weeks or so, bringing you all the action and news from behind the scenes of all remaining events.
Settle back and enjoy the ride.