World’s Best Poker Players Battle it Out for $10 Million Guaranteed Cash Prize

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The World Series of Poker has entered its most exciting phase: the $10,000,000 guaranteed main Event.

The time has come. Event #65A or the No-Limit Hold’em Main Event of the 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has begun. Players from all over the world pay the $10,000 buy-in for a chance to win the biggest cash prize in WSOP history, as well as the most coveted poker champion title.

The prize pool is currently at $7,247,400, but organizers have promised a guaranteed $10 million prize for the winner. The Main Event is scheduled to reach its final table of nine players on July 14, at which point players take a four-month break.

Contestants will meet again at the American poker room during the so-called “November Nine”. The game is expected to air live on ESPN and ESPN2 on November 10 and 11.

Getting in the game

Chip counts at the end of Day 1b:

1. Trey Luxemburger – 193,450
2. Sarkis Hakobian – 190,125
3. Ryan Buckholtz – 189,000
4. Dan Wirgau – 173,350
5. Ryan Julius – 165,125

According to the latest gambling news, about 4,000 players joined smaller satellite tournaments hosted at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, hoping to win a seat for the big poker race.

The 771-player field included several poker legends. Among them was Johnny Chan, who won the tournament in 1987 and 1988, 2003 champion Chris Moneymaker, as well as Antonio Esfandiari, who took a $18.3 million cash prize in 2012, at the WSOP’s first edition of the $1 million buy-in poker race.

Besides former champions and millionaire card players, the field also includes amateurs who proved to be skilled enough to make it to the tournament. For a $10,000 stake, everyone has a shot at getting rich playing poker’s most popular variant.

Participants can bet all of their chips at any time during the game. This means they either move forward and gain more chips, or lose it all. The race goes on until players either bust out or win it all. Last year’s event was won by Ryan Riess, who took $8.36 million in cash. The 23-year-old made his way to the top, through a field of 6,352 players.

Smarts and stamina equal success

While entering the game is fairly easy for players accustomed with such tournaments, beating hundreds of rivals – including world champions – is quite a challenge. Only 10% of all Main Event contestants actually win any money.

Canadian-Romanian poker professional Daniel Negreanu said winning this event requires smarts and stamina, as well as the ability to perform under pressure. The atmosphere at a tournament is completely different from what players are usually used to, from home games and regular casino games, he added.

Most players aren’t used to being constantly watched by cameras and viewers and ESPN is filming the WSOP in 2-hour episodes. The final table scheduled for November is expected to be aired live.

“I’m comfortable under the lights and the cameras. I think it’s actually one of my edges,” Negreanu told reporters. The poker pro is fourth on the World Series of Poker Player of the Year listings. These measure how players perform over the entire 65-event series.

When asked about how he prepared for the series, Negreanu said he strived to get in the best physical shape of his life and sharpen his mental focus.

Pros share their winning poker tips

The last nine competitors will likely have to play for at least 70 hours to reach the final table. The time will be split into seven 10-hour sessions, so it takes a lot of endurance – both physical and mental – to make it to the top.

Australian player Jackie Glazier was the top woman in the main event last year, when she finished 31st and won more than $229,000. In Jackie’s opinion, it’s not worth risking too much early in the game, because multiplying your starting chips won’t matter much as play wears on.

It’s not unusual to see a lot of players bust early, mostly because they gamble chips unnecessarily when they’re not supposed to.

In 2005, Joe Hachem won $7.5 million at the main event. At the beginning on this year’s event on Saturday, he said that his first thought back when he started winning was to just refund his $10,000 ticket and leave.

“But in reality, the only person I have to beat is myself, same as you guys,” he added.

Eyes on the money

Organizers are hoping that the $10 million guaranteed prize will draw more entrants and it is likely that this tactic will work, because it’s been 8 years since the WSOP main event last offered an 8-figure cash prize.

In 2006, Jamie Gold pocketed $12 million for beating 8,773 fellow competitors. The only other 8-figure prizes at the international poker event were won Esfandiari and Daniel Colman, who took $15.3 million in this year’s (and second-ever) $1 million buy-in tournament.

Famous poker player Phil Hellmuth, who won the main event 25 years ago in 1989, believes his rivals are getting better and better at this game. But even with the large number of participants, he still feels top places are reserved only for the best. The main event is winnable,” he said.

Day 1b of the Main Event is over and Trey Luxemburger is leading the roughly 1,300 survivors, with his 193,450 chips. That’s less than what Day 1a leader Martin Jacobson had (200,100) and very close to Sarkis Hakobian, who is 2nd with his 190,125 chips.

Stay tuned for more WSOP news to find out who has the best chances of winning the biggest poker event of the year.

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