The World Series of Poker is celebrating it's 40th year this year, add the Champions Invitational and the Stimulus Special and you have the perfect formula for the best WSOP ever. "There was definitely some magic in the room this weekend," said WSOP Commisioner Jeffrey Pollack.
Despite the downturn of the economy the 2009 WSOP has seen record breaking numbers of players enter through the doors of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino for opening weekend.
"We are off to the best start ever in the 40-year history of the World Series of Poker," said Pollack. "Every aspect of opening weekend has been a success."
Event #2 ($40,000 No Limit Hold 'em) drew 201 players and Event #3 ($1,500 Omaha 8-or-better) was the biggest Omaha 8-or-better event in the history of the WSOP. Event #4 ($1,000 No Limit Hold 'em Stimulus Special), the first of it's kind, was the largest non-Main Event Tourament in the history of poker. A record 6,012 players entered the tournament and the winner will recieve a top prize of $771,000.
"That is a nice return on your investment," Pollack said.
Another unique tournament that added to the show opening weekend was the Champions Invitational. 20 of the 25 living former Main Event winners played in a freeroll tournament with a 1970 Corvette and the first-ever Binion Cup on the line for first prize. Tom McEvoy
, 1983 Main Event winner, won the tournament and was congratulated by Jack Binion, of the legendary Binion Family, who started the WSOP 40 years ago.
"That was really the Mt. Rushmore of poker players," Pollack said. "It was a great show for players and spectators alike and to have Jack Binion on hand, it was very special."
There is no way to tell if the numbers will continue in epic proportions throughout the remainder of this years WSOP but Pollack is optomistic.
"Hopefully we will continue to have the momentum," he said. Since players can register the morning of tournaments and there is late regisration as well, tournament directors cannot give a hard number as to how many people will show up to any given event. According to Pollack, since Harrah's purchased the WSOP in 2004, the numbers have never started off big then dwindled substantially. But no matter the outcome, Pollack said the goal of Harrah's is provide the best experience possible for those that are here. In reference to a low turn out Pollack said, "We are always prepared for it, that is why focus on the quality of the experience first."
Harrah's only expectations this year, due to the U.S. and global economies, was to have a strong opening and smooth opening weekend.
"We had that," Pollack said. "What comes next remains to be seen. The doors are wide open and the Rio has never looked better."