WSOP whirlwind returns to Vegas

Johnny Chan
Johnny Chan in the $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event of the 2007 World Series of Poker

As the first cards were dealt to start the 2007 World Series of Poker, players were lucky if they weren't seated at the same table as at least one big-name pro. The $5,000 buy-in brought out a lot of high rollers to compete in the Mixed Hold'em event.

What began as a handful of road gamblers who gathered together to play poker in 1970 has since turned into a series of tournaments that attract thousands.

"Over the next 47 days, the global poker community will gather at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to compete for the richest prize pool in sports, showcase their talents and rub elbows with some of the biggest names in poker, sports and show business," said Jeffrey Pollack, Greg Mueller, Andy Black and Aaron Kanter, the fourth place finisher at the 2005 Main Event. Patrik Antonius and J.J. Liu also shared a table along with Renee Angelil.

One could guess that the other players at some of those tables were left cursing their bad luck in the table draw.

A few controversies from the first event included a classic tantrum from Mike Matusow. Other players agreed it was a justified outburst though as it was about a problem with the playing cards.

That problem is the sixes and the nines were too similar, especially in spades. Soon player complaints were popping up all over the poker room.

By the time the first break rolled around tournament officials announced they were working with the U.S. Playing Card Company to get cards with the more traditional look, which led to appreciative applause from the players.

The players who didn't make it to see the change in cards though include Greg Raymer, Allen Cunningham, Joe Sebok, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Men "The Master" Nguyen and Scotty Nguyen.

Though it won't have the easy-to-recognize faces of the first event of the day, the Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em event also begins today.

You can bet the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em scheduled for tomorrow will bring a big crowd as well. The line to register was huge all day long today as hopefuls from around the world got ready to take their shot in the series.

"Our promise each year is to do better than we did the year before," said Pollack. "This will be the best World Series of Poker ever, and I'm confident that our players, fans and sponsors will experience a new level of outstanding customer service."

PokerListings.com will keep you updated on how well the World Series lives up to its promise this year as we bring you tournament reports, photos, live updates and more from every event in the Live Tournaments Section.

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