Get set for 2009 WSOP action


Casino employees start your engines!

The World Series of Poker starts more than a month and a half of tournament action today at noon with Event 1, Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em.

With 57 events on tap for 2009, there will be plenty of tournaments for poker fans to choose from.

The casino employee event is one of three closed events. The other two are the Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship and the Seniors Event.

Aside from those, anyone and everyone of legal age can register for the events, and WSOP officials remain optimistic that this year will be just as good, if not better than past years, despite the recession.

"We don't judge our success or failure on the numbers," said Seth Palansky, Harrah's Entertainment Sports and Entertainment Group director of communications. "Poker players are our customers, and we'll serve all who show up, whether that is one person or a million."

That being said, Palansky indicated that hotel bookings and preregistration numbers are higher this year than their record-breaking year last year. One event in particular seems to have caught players' attention.

"The opening weekend stimulus special is tracking huge," Palansky said. "Those players interested in playing in that event, which has two starting days, better register in advance."

The "stimulus special" is a $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event. Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP Commissioner, had previously predicted this event could break the registration record of 3,929 set at the first $1,500 No-Limit tournament in 2008.

"The prize pool for this one should exceed $5 million, and the winner is likely looking at a $1 million prize," Palansky said. "Where else can you turn a $1,000 investment into a million bucks in three to four days except at the World Series of Poker?"

Keeping the current economy in mind, the WSOP team has also increased the number of events with a buy-in under $2,500 to 39. Last year there were 37 event in that price range.

That doesn't mean there will be less big-money events to take part in. The number of $10,000 buy-in World Champion Events is increasing from eight to 10. The $50k H.O.R.S.E. event will be back, plus a special $40k event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the WSOP kicks off on Thursday.

"We are ready to go," Palansky said. "Triple starting chips, deeper structures and smoother payouts make this the year of value, and we hope the year of many exciting stories."

To stay up on all the latest stories and action at the tables, stick with We'll have news, live updates, photos and more every day from the tournament floor.

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