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World Series Of Poker $111,111 Buy-In Draws 166 Gamblers, To Award $4.8 Million To First

Some Of The Game's Best Turn Out To Compete For Prestigious Title


The $111,111 buy-in on Wednesday in Las Vegas, the second most expensive tournament ever in the history of the WSOP, drew 166 players, which was also the record for a tournament with a six-figure entry fee. Buy-ins of this magnitude, dubbed “high rollers”, have spread like wildfire through the poker world over the past couple of years, and now the WSOP is all-in.

When registration was closed just before 5:30 p.m. local time, a prize pool of nearly $17.9 million was announced, of which $4.83 million would go to the eventual champion. The entire final table would make at least $384,122. A min-cash was slated for $173,723.

Despite the prestige and price tag, the contest was just like any other tournament, as some players, such as Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey, were checking their phones with looks of intense boredom, while others, such as Brian Hastings, David Sands and Antonio Esfandiari, were engaged in the typical chatter about current events in the sports world. (Today it was about NFL star Aaron Hernandez being charged with murder.) Then there were some, such as Greg Mueller, Dan Shak, Matthew Marafioti, Andrew Lichtenberger and Johnny Chan, who were tucked away inside whatever kind of music or multimedia was playing on their mobile devices. Five-time bracelet winner John Juanda didn’t even know what time the event started, Tweeting: “Holycrap! Woke up at 4:00 p.m. thinking One Drop started at 5:00 p.m. Flying to Rio now. Hope I can still make it.” Last but certainly not least, there was a non-poker pro over-betting the pot, declaring once that he was all-in because he just wanted to leave and go to dinner.

If it wasn’t for the names, a thick row of spectators around the tournament area and a nearby display of free candy bars, pretzels and other snacks for the competitors, the event could pass as a lowly $1,000 buy-in held frequently in the sprawling Amazon Room.

If the drama and spectacle of the game were to come it would have to be toward the later stages of the event, when all the money would be on the line.

However, the event was large enough to lure some of those with the bloodiest noses in web poker’s cash-game history into the Rio for a tournament. In addition to Dwan and Hastings, Isaac Haxton, Alexander Kostritsyn, Phil Galfond, David Benefield, Ben Tollerene, Scott Seiver and Gus Hansen ditched the computer to play a much slower form of poker than what they most likely all prefer. If Hansen won, he would erase about half his lifetime losses on Full Tilt.

Haxton specifically was a surprise to see, since he has been crushing the no-limit hold’em cash games online, which have been the best in years, he said. Haxton added that if he busted he would immediately fly back to Hong Kong, where he is authorized to play such games, to hopefully continue the Internet upswing. He was up $700,000 in June, as of Wednesday.

Also in attendance was renowned sports bettor Bob Voulgaris, who isn’t a common sight at poker tables these days. Across the room sat Erick Lindgren, who Voulgaris once called out publicly for allegedly owing him a lot of money and refusing to pay. Lindgren has had huge year so far, cashing for more than $1.3 million, and has said he’s making good on his debts.

Making a rare appearance inside a commercial casino was Vivek Rajkumar, who has been rumored to be killing it in private cash games. He was once a fearless tournament regular.

Last year, the WSOP hosted a $1 million buy-in, which was won by Esfandiari and awarded $18 million for first. This year, the organizers decided to drop the buy-in, as well as lift the cap on entrants. Thus, a handful of poker pros who had success earlier in the 2013 summer Series were able to take a shot at parlaying the prize money into even more prize money.

Both of the aforementioned events were held partly to benefit the charity One Drop, which was founded by Cirque du Soleil creator and former high-stakes poker donator Guy Laliberté. He said last year that the $1 million buy-in should be back in 2014.



almost 9 years ago

Dunno why, but this somehow reads like a typical Gossip column. Robin Leach would be proud :-)