WSOP 2017: Poker's best battle for world title, prestige and millions of dollars

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Thousands of poker players expected to Rio Hotel for WSOP

LAS VEGAS, NV (JULY 8, 2017) -- The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event started today at the Rio Hotel & Casino here, promising 14 days poker action until the game crowns its latest World Champion on July 22.

Several thousand players from across the world are expected to take part in the event, which costs $10,000 to enter and is played using the No Limit Texas Hold'em form of the game.

Jack Effel, the tournament director of the WSOP, got the game started at 11am in the Brasilia Room of the sprawling property, on Flamingo Road, west of the famed Las Vegas Strip.

"Shuffle up and deal," said Jerry Chen, a special guest from China, who had the privilege of getting the the tournament started, as the hundreds men and women who took their seats at the start of the day settled in for what they will hope to be a long and profitable stay.

Many more players will arrive over three separate "Day 1s"--a common construction in poker tournaments to accommodate everyone who wishes to enter. Day 1A plays today, Day 1B Sunday and Day 1C Monday.

Players receive 50,000 tournament chips at the start of play and are eliminated when they have lost them all. The champion will eventually possess all the chips in the room and win the largest cash prize.

Approximately 85 percent of the total players will leave with nothing, before the last 15 percent receive an incrementally increasing payout.

On Tuesday, the surviving players from Days 1A and 1B return to the felt. On Wednesday, the survivors from Day 1C play their Day 2. All of the remaining field combines for the first time on Thursday for Day 3.

The action from one table per day will be broadcast live on ESPN2. By the time only nine players are left, the tournament takes a two-day break before "final table" action starts on Thursday, July 20.

The WSOP is the most prestigious and longest-running poker tournament series in the world and has been played every year in Las Vegas since 1970.

That first year they didn't even play a tournament, only cash games, before voting Marshall, Texas's Johnny Moss the champion. Then the next year only a half-dozen players put down the $5,000 entry fee, and Moss won the top prize again. In 1972 the entry fee was upped to $10K, where it remains today. Eight played that year.

By 2017, the number of players had increased to 6,737 and Las Vegas, Nevada's Qui Nguyen, 39, won more than $8 million and the coveted, jewel-encrusted, gold bracelet awarded to the champion.

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The 2017 WSOP Main Event winner's bracelet

Nguyen will return to defend his title this year, but no player has mounted a successful defence of the Main Event since Johnny Chan did it in 1987 and 1988, beating 152 and 167 players, respectively.

More than one hundred players contested the WSOP Main Event for the first time in 1982 and the size of the field broke through one thousand for the first time in 2004. That followed a sensational victory in 2003 by a 27-year-old accountant from Nashville, Tennessee, named Chris Moneymaker, who had won his entry fee to the game via an "satellite" tournament costing $40 on the internet poker site PokerStars.

Moneymaker's victory earned him $2.3 million and began what is now known as the "poker boom". The biggest ever WSOP renewal took place in 2006 when Jamie Gold, of Malibu, Calif., beat 8,773 players to a top prize of $12 million.

Moneymaker, now 41, has also returned to Las Vegas this week, and is now sponsored by PokerStars, the online site that gave him the springboard to poker's most extraordinary success.

PokerStars has a large number of other players also at the World Series, including Daniel Negreanu, who is the game's most successful player. Toronto native Negreanu, 42, now lives in Las Vegas and has won more money in poker tournaments than any other player in the world. His current total is $34,077,782. New York's Erik Seidel is second on the all-time money list with $32,462,833.

Negreanu and Moneymaker play for Team PokerStars Pro alongside representatives from 11 countries, including Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and India. PokerStars' official blog, PokerStars Blog, will be following all of the players throughout the Main Event and coverage will include in-depth interviews, features and action reports.

The WSOP this year started May 31 and featured 74 tournaments played across all variants of poker. Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov won PokerStars' first bracelets of the summer when they prevailed in the unusual "tag team" event during the WSOP's first week.

Negreanu narrowly missed out on his seventh career bracelet when he finished fifth Thursday in the Poker Player's Championship, which cost $50,000 to enter.

The Main Event remains the pinnacle of both the WSOP and the global game of poker. All eyes will be fixed on the Rio for the coming two and a half weeks.


WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.