The Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino has established itself as a mecca of poker the world over, and for the second year it a row it’s currently playing host to the highly-anticipated World Series of Poker Main Event.
The Event began Monday and will go all the way to July 14 as the field of 90 players will be slowly widdled down to a nine-player final table. That final table will reportedly be set by Jully 11 according to WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky:
“We are going to reach the final table of nine players on July 11. We will play a three-day final table, with the expectation being that we will play from nine to six on the first night, six to three the next night, and then down to a champion on the 14th. All of that will be televised on ESPN in primetime.”
The challenge will be a grueling one for the eventual winner and even making it to that day will prove to be a highly rewarding experience. There are a few provisions, Palansky mentioned, that will help those trying to take home the most coveted prize in the sport of poker at the year’s biggest most-televised tournament.
“We are excited to get started. What is different this year is that dinner breaks are going to be sixty minutes, players are used to longer breaks in the past, so they should be aware of that. The meal break times are also going to be much different this year, so you should consult the structure so make sure you know when your meal break occurs.”
The event will be covered for a worldwide cable audience by ESPN2 until the table is determined in which case coverage will switch over to the big network (ESPN) as the winner is eventually crowned.
The three players at the Main Event with the best chances to win are three names that have become synonymous with the best the sport has to offer over their careers.
Sam “Tricky” Trickett is tied for the best odds in the field to win his first bracelet at +8000 odds. The British rising star has seven money finishes and two final tables to his name leaving many to think he may very well be due this time around. He sits atop the England All-Time money list on the Hendon Mob with $20,849,721.
Phil Ivey is one of the sport’s most popular players and the icon made his return to the WSOP circuit last month to much fanfare. The Riverside, California native ranks 7th on Hendon Mob’s all-time money list and is expected to add to that given +8000 odds. Despite some issues in the past with a tricky lawsuit involving edge sorting at a British casino, Ivey ranks second on the Mob’s popularity index runner up to the last of the top three.
Daniel Negreanu is a name even the most casual poker fan has heard more than a few times over the last year. The Canadian sits at the top of the all-time money list with $39,623,149 in winnings and is saddled with +10000 odds to take home his seventh bracelet.
Last year’s winner, Scott Blumstein, is hardly expected to repeat a +25000 odds, but that could have more to do with the fact that the tournament hasn’t seen a back-to-back winner since Johnny Chan back in 1987 and 1988. 40 is a good round number, however, should that curse be broken.
The field includes quite the celebrity lineup this iteration as a handful of instantly recognizable personas were on hand when the tournament kicked off. While their stars may have shone bright their chances of taking home a bracelet were mighty slim, most facing +90000 odds.
Actors like the Bourne series’ Matt Damon, recent Batman Ben Affleck, original Spiderman Tobey Maguire, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, noted political Twitter activist James Woods, the lovable Ray Romano and comedy megastar Kevin Hart all had seats.
Rounding out the eclectic group was former bracelet winner and Liar Liar actress Jennifer Tilly, US Olympic icon Michael Phelps and Australian cricket legend Shane Warne who hoped their experience and history handling high pressure competitions would lead to overachievement and maybe even a spot at the final table.