Pros gear up for 2009 WSOP Main Event

The First Hug
2007 champ Jerry Yang hopes for another deep run at the 2009 Main Event

It's the most wonderful time of the poker year as the Main Event of the 2009 World Series of Poker gets underway.

Thousands of hopeful rounders have swamped the Amazon Room at the Rio for the first of four Day 1s of this Andy Black echoed Smith's sentiments.

"It's the biggest tournament in the world and the best one. It's a great day, Day 1 of the Main Event."

The tournament is expected to attract more than six thousand players in search of a multi-million dollar first prize and a shot at poker immortality.

Last year, Denmark's Jerry Yang came from nowhere to beat out 6,357 players, taking $8.25 million for first before disappearing from the poker landscape once more.

Yang is back for 2009 and told PokerListings he's eager to reclaim the top spot.

"I've been waiting for so long, waiting for one year," he said. "I'm going to play my best and see what happens."

Neither Yang nor Eastgate's purses hold a candle to the $12 million 2006 champ Jamie Gold earned for topping a field of more than 8,700 competitors.

But the former champs will have both have their work cut out for them if they want to make another deep run.

Undulay undulay mami!

Since 2003, only Greg Raymer has been able to replicate his tournament-winning success in a later year, finishing 25th in the 2005 Main Event after winning in 2004.

Among those players to show up for Day 1a action are former L.A. Dodger Orel Hershiser, PokerListings blogger Jason Mercier, actors Jason Alexander and Brad Garrett and rapper Nelly.

This year's Main Event will see the field divided into four flights on Day 1 and two flights on Day 2, with the survivors coming together for the first time on Day 3 next Friday.

Tournament organizers have tweaked the structure and given players 30,000 in chips compared to last year's 20,000, but despite the deeper stacks the field will only play four two-hour levels on Day 1.

As in 2008, the Main Event will play down to a nine-handed final table before the tournament is suspended until November.

The new "November Nine" will then reconvene at the Rio to play out the tournament's climactic hands in what promises to be another raucous spectacle of an event. will have live and comprehensive coverage of the 2009 Main Event in the WSOP section.

Tune in throughout the tournament for live updates, chip counts, video features and cutting-edge blogs from the Rio.

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