The World Series of Poker’s main event drew 6,598 entrants, the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history.
With Day 1 action in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em World Championship complete, the top prize was set at $8.5 million, $200,000 less than last year when Pius Heinz took the title. There were 4,344 players remaining entering Day 2 today.
The main event, concludes the 61-tournament World Series of Poker, which is held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. There will be a record $220 million in prize money given away at this year’s World Series, the event organizers said in a news release.
David Einhorn, the co-founder of Greenlight Capital Inc. who finished third in a $1 million buy-in event last week, won’t compete.
On July 3, Einhorn won $4.35 million in the Big One for One Drop, an event that raised $5.3 million for the charity One Drop. Einhorn, 43, also said he planned to give his own winnings to the charity City Year. He finished 18th in the main event in 2006.
Antonio Esfandiari, who won a record $18.3 million in the Big One for One Drop, survived the main event’s Day 1 and has 78,925 in chips.
Several past main-event champions were eliminated during Day 1, including 12-time World Series gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth; 2005 winner Joe Hachem; 2010 winner Jonathan Duhamel; and Chris Moneymaker, the former amateur whose 2003 main-event win helped start an international poker boom.
Day 1 is spread over three actual days of play to accommodate the size of the field.
Heinz, who won last year when 6,685 people participated, survived Day 1 and will begin his Day 2 play today.
The leader is Austria’s William John with 266,700 in chips. John, who has never finished in the money at a World Series of Poker event, has about a 50 percent chance of winning part of the purse, based on the success of past early leaders at the event, according to tournament organizers. The top 666 finishers will win at least $19,227.
Actor Ray Romano failed to survive Day 1, while Jason Alexander moved on with 49,550 in chips.
Andrew Frankenberger, a former derivatives trader at BNP Paribas SA, advanced with 59,450 in chips. Jeremy Wien, an options trader at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., has 56,550 in chips.
The main event will play down to nine competitors on July 16. Those remaining will return in late October to crown a champion. The tournament, which usually concludes in November, was moved up this year because the U.S. presidential election is the first week of November.
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