WSOP plans for best-case scenario

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack

While naysayers are forecasting a slump in entrants at this year's World Series of Poker championship, the tournament brass has a different outlook. Organizers are preparing for 10,000 players, up from 8,773 last year.

The 10,000-player mark isn't a prediction, series commissioner Jeffrey Pollack stressed at a Wednesday teleconference also attended by Harrah's vice president Howard Greenbaum and tournament director Jack Effel.

Instead, the increase to 258 poker tables at host casino the Rio which will comfortably accommodate 10,000 Main Event players is for ease of planning, he said.

The tables are to be housed in a new superstructure that will skirt the casino's current poker room in Las Vegas.

Though some online chatter speculates that the number of entrants in the championship could be cut in half following last year's U.S. Internet gambling ban, Pollack stuck to his policy of never predicting player turnout at the series.

"We are always planning for a bigger tournament than the year prior," he said. "We've been around for 38 years; we've got another 38 years in front of us."

Still, things have changed since last year's event. In addition to previously announced sponsorship, a ban on advertising at the WSOP and an earlier tournament start date, new deals and alterations are still in the pipeline.

To offer competitors more playtime, starting chips will be doubled up in all events. Structures will be posted on the event's Web site next week.

To avoid a mishap such as last year's - when thousands of extra chips found their way into circulation in the Main Event - only new chips will be used. There will also be mandatory training requirements for dealers and casino staff.

This year's series will also feature a variety of satellites, including two-winner single table events and two- and three-table multi-winners.

On the heels of the success of the 2006's new H.O.R.S.E event, organizers brainstormed, consulted players and did market research to establish the new Mixed Hold'em event.

The 2007 WSOP's expanded offering of 55 gold-bracelet events include the $2,500 H.O.R.S.E, the $5,000 H.O.R.S.E and the $5,000 Heads-Up tournament. If these events prove successful they will make next year's lineup; if not, they will be pulled from the series, Pollack said.

*With files from Owen Laukkanen

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