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2010 WSOP Poised to Break Records
With an expanded footprint inside the Rio and a schedule redesigned with the new poker economy in mind, officials are expecting the 2010 World Series of Poker to be the biggest in history.
"With the plans we've put in place we expect the numbers to be very strong," WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart said. "Here comes a bold prediction: We're very confident total participation will again set a record this year."
The plans put in place begin with taking up 25% more space in the Rio Convention Centre when the 2010 WSOP's 57-event schedule begins in just three weeks.
That means 100,000 square feet across two massive tournament rooms filled with 377 poker tables - Enough to host 3,750 players on any given day.
In 2009, a rush of last minute sign-ups for the fourth and final main event starting day had the WSOP turning away players, denying the tournament the opportunity to improve upon registration numbers that had been in a steady decline since 2006.
But with the expanded footprint inside the Rio and a contingency plan to spread registration across all four starting days, combine alternate starting days and get the word out when starting days begin to look relatively full, Stewart says the Main Event is prepared to buck the trend this year.
Last year, the opening weekend's $1k economic stimulus event drew a record breaking field of more than 6,000 players.
Seeing the poker economy's healthy appetite for relatively lower buy-in events, the WSOP responded with plans to host another $1k event on the opening weekend this year, another every weekend throughout the six-week series and one more just prior to the start of the Main Event.
WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel expects each one to be a massive draw.
"The fields are going to be huge and the first-place prizes are going to be huge," he said.
Add in the fact pre-registration numbers are already better than they've ever been and there are several reasons to believe the WSOP may be right about this year being the biggest yet.
"Several thousand have already pre-registered amongst all the events," said Effel. "With the Seniors event, the $1k and the Main Event being the most popular."
In addition to the first $1k event, the May 27 opening weekend this year will also feature a $50k Poker Players Championship expected to draw poker's elite. The structure is an eight-game mix throughout with an all No-Limit Hold'em final table that will be filmed for ESPN broadcast.
Other schedule highlights include the return of the WSOP Tournament of Champions, reformatted as poker's All-Star Game featuring a field voted in by fans.
The WSOP says more than 300,000 votes have already been cast on its website with the legendary Phil Ivey leading the charge for one of 20 seats. The July 4 final table will also be filmed for broadcast on ESPN.
Effel also believes the new $25k Six-Handed event set for Jun. 30 will be one of this summer's most popular.
"We feel it's going to get a huge turnout," he said. "Six-Handed poker is gaining in popularity every day. It's the second most popular variant of Texas Hold'em, it's exciting and we think it's going to be huge."
And of course, the 2010 WSOP will culminate with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, which begins July 5, will reach a final table on July 17 and crown a champion in November.
Off the felt, Stewart says they are also hoping to make the WSOP a better spectator experience this year.
As a result, the WSOP will use the grand stage at one end of the Pavillion Room, add in more social settings like a brand new Bad Beat Bar, additional indoor dining options and feature tables in every corner of both rooms fans can follow.
In 2009, the WSOP drew 60,875 players from 115 different counties with $175 million up for grabs and Stewart is predicting even bigger things this year.
"This is the year of no limits," Stewart said. "Hopefully fate will shine on us with another set of great stories coming out of it."
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