Hellmuth talks Stimulus Special

Phil Hellmuth

With the lowest buy-in of any event in the history of the World Series of Poker, the $1k No-Limit Hold'em event kicks off tomorrow expecting to break even more records.

The event is projected to draw as many as 5,000 entrants. The prospect of grinding through that many players isn't too appealing to some pros, but Phil Hellmuth embraces the challenge.

"It's a chance to set a record for one thing," said the 11-time WSOP bracelet winner. "Whoever wins that bracelet deserves it. You beat 5,000 other people."

"It's a great tournament for the pros because you either get a lot of chips right away or you don't."

Hellmuth says he's more prepared for the 2009 WSOP than he's been in years, thanks to a new regimen of physical training. The "Poker Brat" loves the idea of the $1k event.

"I wish they would do a $1k tournament with rebuys," he said.

Designed to encourage players to ante up for an affordable WSOP, this tournament will resemble many major online tournaments, where small buy-ins and huge fields are the norm.

This could give an advantage to online players, but despite his reputation for online success, Jimmy Fricke doesn't seem to be looking forward to the massive numbers expected to show.

"It's a small buy-in tournament with a good structure," Fricke said. "I think the structure needs to be worse. The Main Event is going to take like an extra two days this year, just because of that small increase in chips they gave us.

Jimmy Fricke
Who needs a deep stack when you have long levels?

"When you have such big fields and long levels, you don't need a lot of starting chips."

Fricke started his Friday afternoon playing in the Omaha 8 event, and "Gobboboy" is hoping a deep run will keep him on the sidelines for the Stimulus.

But if he does play, he expects it to be a long grind.

"If you have a bunch of inexperienced players early on, they're going to bust out and the average number of chips is going to skyrocket," said Fricke, whose biggest live cash came in the 2007 Aussie Millions when he finished second.

"If you start us off with 100 big blinds there's going to be too much play," he said. "Then the structure gets worse as the tournament goes on."

John Juanda
John Juanda is looking forward to 4,000+ donkeys.

The field should include plenty of pros, but some big names are sitting it out.

After busting out of the $40k event yesterday, Howard Lederer is staying home until Monday and the start of the World Championship Seven Card Stud $10,000 bracelet event.

"I always feel like I'm easing my way in," Lederer said. "I've gotten my taste and now I'm going to take a couple of days off. I'm not really looking to try to beat 5,000 people over the weekend."

Other pros, like 2008 WSOP Europe Main Event champion John Juanda plan to play in the $1k stimulus event only if time permits.

Like Fricke, Juanda began Friday afternoon in the Omaha 8 event.

"We're going to get a lot of players, that's for sure," said Juanda, who's cashed 39 times in the WSOP since 2002, in addition to his bracelet win in the 2008 WSOPE Main Event.

"I expect like 4,000 players, maybe more. It's going to be a lot of fun. Obviously, whoever gets really lucky and plays pretty good will do well."

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