After the first level of Day 1b came to a close, registration finally ended and we got our first clear look at just how big this thing really is. At a time when the World Poker Tour's turnouts seem to be dwindling, this tournament is overflowing with players, all eager to cough up $15,000 for their shot at the big time.
All told there were 664 individuals who found their way to the felt on one of the two Day 1 flights and whether they got there by satellite or direct buy-in, they each represented 15 dimes that will be chopped up amongst those who are able to make it to the cash.
The payout structure will make it possible for a higher number than usual to make it into the money, with the top 100 getting paid. That means more than 15% of the field will be walking away with something to show for their efforts, much higher than the standard 10% most often used. With places 51 through 100 taking down a hefty $28,905 this is certainly one of the flatter prize structures we've seen.
With so much cash to work with though, even a flat structure isn't able to diminish the rewards for going all the way. First place will take almost $2.5 million and the runner-up will find him- or herself more than $1 million richer as a result. For a full breakdown of the prizes simply click through to our Payout Structure page where that information is displayed in detail.
After the seemingly endless parade of pros and high rollers we saw hit the felt yesterday, on Day 1a, it was hard to believe there were enough familiar faces in the poker world to put together a similarly stacked roster today. As the players began filling the room and taking their seats though, it became obvious we were in for another star-studded lineup.
To give you an idea of what the amateur player had to contend with today, consider this table that we saw early in the afternoon. Sitting side by side, with only a few spots occupied by unknowns, were Freddy Deeb.
PL.com was not in attendance for the hand that started it but it seems that Hellmuth had lost a good portion of his chips on a bluff and Deeb had become somewhat vocal in his appraisal of Phil's play. This friction led to some interesting hands and a few choice quotes, perhaps the best of which was when Phil called to Doyle Brunson at a nearby table and suggested he give Deeb a copy of his book since he apparently needed some help with his game.
Doyle had his own problems to deal with though, simultaneously playing the tournament and keeping up with the high-stakes game of props he was tracking with tablemate Eli Elezra.
Tomorrow we'll see the two surviving halves of the field combine to continue down the road to the final table. At this point 445 players strong, the group will be further diminished before Day 2 is complete. Tune in to PokerListings.com to find out how it all shakes out. We're only going to tell you once. We're serious. We'll turn this car around and go straight home.