WSOP Main Event: Ready to play

wsop2009_thn.gifAt the movies there's the previews and commercials, and at a concert there's at least one support to endure before the headline band shuffles languidly onto the stage. At the World Series of Poker, the undercard lasts for more than a month, features more than 50 tournaments, something like 15,000 players, and millions upon millions of dollars. And it's still not even five percent as exciting as this moment, right here, right now.

In less than about five minutes the Championship Event of the 2009 World Series will begins in the Amazon Ballroom at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It is, without question, the most anticipated moment in the game. It is the Super Bowl, the soccer World Cup, the Olympics and the Oscars. Whatever you're into, this is the moment you've been waiting for. More than 7,000 players are expected, clutching $10,000 apiece for their shot at the big prize. The ultimate winner, of what is expected to be something like $9 million, won't be decided until November, but everything that happens around a poker table between now and then is a contributing factor. Our search for the World Champion begins now.

Joining the field, exchanging the same $10,000 for the same 30,000 stack of tournament chips, are some of the biggest names in the game. Team PokerStars Pro will be out in force: the defending champion Peter Eastgate will be the player all want to emulate, although at this stage most would also settle for being this year's Ivan Demidov, Dennis Phillips or Ylon Schwartz, all of whom took the PokerStars livery to last year's final table and millions of bucks. Then, of course, there's the likes of Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem and Tom McEvoy, previous World Series champions, also rejoining the hunt for another bracelet.

Then there'll be Negreanu, Greenstein, Brenes, Grospellier, Minieri, Thorson and all others. You know them, and you also know that this is the place to hear up-to-the-minute news about all of them.

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But let's not forget this: At the very same time that this is the ultimate clash of the titans, the World Series Main Event is also the moment for the previously unheralded players to make a huge splash on the major stage. That man Moneymaker started it all in 2003, when he won his passage to Vegas in a satellite tournament on PokerStars. It was the $40 into $2.5m sensation that kick-started the modern poker era, and now we have more than 2,000 qualifiers preparing to take their shot at the massive time.

As ever, this is also the place to track the progress of the PokerStars qualifiers in the field -- and we take requests. If your brother, father, sister, mother, son, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson, granddaughter (and all the "great" permutations), neighbor, drinking buddy, chiropodist, boss, secretary, paperboy or priest is in the field, email us at blog@pokerstars.com, tell us their name, where they are sitting and as many identifying traits as possible, and we'll try to track them down, grab a photo and follow their progress through the event. One of them just might win it.

With that, the doors are open and the hounds have been unleashed. Players are filing into the tournament room and taking their seats around the tables. Play is imminent.

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STAT OF THE HOUR

Players start with 30,000 chips.
Blinds start at 50-100 and each level lasts two hours.
Play got underway at 12.06pm Vegas time.

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QUOTE OF THE HOUR

"He's not going to win the World Series." -- Anonymous media representative spots a player sitting at a table two hours before the tournament is due to begin.

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TWEET OF THE HOUR

PokerStars Blog is on Twitter. You can follow us at //twitter.com/pokerstarsblog and let us know your own Twitter account so that we can follow your progress.