Stars Headline 2010 TOC

Sam Farha
Voted by the fans.

After months of anticipation the WSOP 2010 Tournament of Champions finally kicked off today with perhaps the most loaded tournament field ever.

20 of the 27 players seated for the start of the TOC Sunday were voted in by fans on, and this year's TOC is the equivalent of an All-Star game from any major sport.

A ballot of 50 names was released by the WSOP on March 15, and the public had until June 15 to vote.

The top 20 players receiving the highest vote total earned a TOC, along with seven other qualifiers.

The result is an field that includes names like Phil Hellmuth, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Sammy Farha and Scotty Nguyen, seated with Barry Greenstein, Allen Cunningham, Mike Sexton and Barry Shulman.

All of those big names are sitting around just one table at the TOC.

"All in all I think it's great for the game, and I think all poker players should appreciate the fact that somebody's putting up a million dollars for a freeroll, for players to put that back in the poker community," Sexton told on a break.

"Obviously it's a phenomenal field. I predicted the final table will be the greatest final table in the history of poker. I think it'll be that strong."

The TOC is back for the first time since 2006, and the formula was overhauled for 2010, allowing the public to vote in the first-ever event of it's kind.

Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu is seated right next to Annie Duke at the ESPN feature table.

"Any time you have a voting process, people are going to talk about it," Sexton said.

"That's the way it is. It's like any major sport. All-Star baseball game, basketball, it doesn't matter. If the fans vote on it, they vote for people that they recognize, that are popular."

The event is definitely creating a buzz in the Amazon Room, with all three feature tables offering a spectacular lineup.

Top vote-getter Phil Ivey is in the field, along with Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and Erik Seidel.

"It's a tough field," said Sammy Farha with a grin.

"I like that though, it's better for me. They're all good players. There's no strange move or something like that. I'd rather be in a field like this than against different faces that I haven't seen before."

The TOC will play four levels Sunday and wrap up early in the afternoon, allowing multi-tabling pros to fulfill other bracelet-event commitments later in the day.

Action will resume in the TOC at 12:00 p.m. on Monday with the goal of playing down to a final table of nine. The final table will play out on July 4.

Farha told that he's done playing bracelet events for the summer, with the $10k Omaha Hi-Lo bracelet already in the bag for the 2010 WSOP.

Nonetheless, Farha says the TOC title is meaningful to the pros.

"You know what you hear, we're having fun, we're socializing," Farha said.

"That means nothing. The play, it's very competitive. We're all going to try to beat each other."

The 2010 WSOP continues through July 17. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas tune in to PokerListings' Live Updates and News.

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