LAS VEGAS (Mar. 15, 2010) – Poker deserves its annual All-Star Event, and the World Series of Poker intends to deliver it.
The WSOP will be putting up one million dollars to award during the 2010 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, taking place during the 41st Annual WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
ESPN will cover this No Limit Hold'em event for airing in a special two-hour telecast on Tuesday, August 3, 2010.
"The Tournament of Champions brand has heritage in delivering the big moments," said HIE Vice President Ty Stewart. "We're thrilled to reinvent it around a model that should elevate the game by engaging millions of poker fans. We have received a lot of input from players and their affinity for the TOC, and we are excited for them and the fans and hope its here to stay."
A total of 27 players will participate in the freeroll poker invitational, with 20 players selected by voting from the public. The vote begins March 15, 2010 at 12 noon ET on WSOP.com and remains open until June 15, 2010 at midnight ET. The top 20 vote-getters will be awarded entry. In the event anyone in the public's Top 20 is unable to participate, the next highest eligible and available vote-getter will be awarded the entry. To qualify as one of the 20 eligible fan-voted participants, players must be a WSOP bracelet-holder. All living WSOP bracelet holders are able to receive votes, and currently there are 521 eligible players.
Five entries into the tournament are automatic. The three previous WSOP TOC winners gain automatic entry, plus the reigning WSOP champion and the reigning WSOP Europe champion get seats at the table. Therefore Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, Mike Sexton, Joe Cada and Barry Shulman will make up 5 of the 27 players for this event.
"Tournaments like the Tournament of Champions help elevate poker to the level it deserves and I am honored to participate," said inaugural TOC victor Annie Duke. "Winning the TOC marks one of the most memorable events in my poker career and I'm ecstatic that the WSOP is hosting this prestigious event."
Two sponsor exemptions will be awarded by the WSOP, with details forthcoming on how those seats can be won.
Play will convene at the Rio on Sunday, June 27, 2010 to begin the tournament. Play will halt once the final nine players are reached, and those nine return on Sunday, July 4, 2010 to play for their share of 1,000,000 dollars and the title of 2010 WSOP TOC Champion. The tournament has been scheduled to avoid conflict with other WSOP events, as no new tournaments begin on either June 27 or July 4.
The WSOP Tournament of Champions was started by the WSOP in 2004, after Harrah's took ownership of the World Series of Poker brand. In the inaugural event, ten top names were invited to participate in the freeroll event structured as a winner-take-all. Duke won the event at the Rio.
In 2005, the TOC was won by Matusow at Caesars Palace, with an expanded field of 114 entrants competing in the freeroll, with the top nine places cashing.
The TOC event last took place in 2006 at the Rio, when 27 of the games greatest took to the felt in the freeroll, with the final table all walking away with prize money and 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Sexton walking away with the top prize.
This year's TOC will be a No Limit Texas Hold'em tournament with the top nine places being paid. First place will win $500,000, the runner-up gets $250,000, third place earns $100,000 and the fourth through ninth place pockets $25,000 each.
Details on how to cast your vote and rules can all be found at WSOP.com. The public will be able to track the voting, with the top 50 vote-getters listed and updated automatically after each ballot is completed. In an effort to avoid ballot-stuffing, the tally of individual votes won't be divulged during the open voting period, and balloters will be required to complete an authentication process to ensure one vote per email address.
The WSOP, an annual poker games extravaganza, which dates back to 1970, is televised exclusively on ESPN from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and consists of a comprehensive slate of the game's most popular variations running from May 27-July 17, 2010.
A total of 57 coveted gold bracelets will be up for grabs in 2010 – equal to last year's total.
ABOUT THE WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world, having awarded more than a billion dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport's top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker's longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2009, the event attracted 60,875 entrants from 115 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded over $174 million in prize money. The WSOP in December, 2008 was named the 7th most admired sports brand in North America by the Turnkey Sports Survey, trailing only the older and more established NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and PGA Tour among sports properties. In addition, the WSOP has experienced groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit our website at WSOP.com.