The fourth of five gold bracelet events at this year’s World Series of Poker Europe began today with the start of a brand new competition called the “No-Limit Hold’em High-Roller Heads-Up Championship.”

With a buy-in totaling £10,000, a star-studded field was expected.  The turnout did not disappoint.  Numerous former world champions and gold bracelet winners dotted nearly every poker table at the swanky Casino at the Empire in central London. 

Indeed, the big turnout surpassed all expectations.  Given the high buy-in and the special skill set required to excel in heads-up No-Limit Hold'em, a starting field of about 64 players was expected, which would have constituted multiple brackets and the playing of six rounds en route to the championship.

Instead, 103 players were shoehorned into the packed casino, which made for an exciting all-star atmosphere.  Many tables were surrounded by fans and spectators, some pointing and gawking at celebrity players they recognized on television.  Just about anyone who was anyone in tournament poker was present.

The total prize pool for this event also established a new WSOP Europe record.  For the first time ever, a non-Main Event tournament at WSOP Europe exceeded the million-British pound prize mark.  This is quite impressive, given the host casino has a limited number of tournament tables and seats and can only accommodate a fixed number of participants.

The big turnout meant that the gold bracelet winner must win seven heads up matches, which is no small feat given the calibre of competition.  Round 1 began with 103 players who were paired off in 51 one-on-one matches.  Due to the odd number of entrants, 25 players were given a bye for the first round.  All byes and seating were determined by random selection.

The 64 survivors from the first round returned for another session, which was Round 2.  Half of the field was eliminated over the next few hours, leaving only 32 players.  They shall return for Round 3, which begins on Day Two.
Here are the matchups for Round 3:

Howard Lederer vs. Shaun Buchanan

Ilari Sahamies vs. Huck Seed

Martin Kabrhel vs. Matt Jarvis

Jim Collopy vs. Scott Fischman

Sondre Svanevik vs. Daniel Steinberg

Kevin Eyster vs. Ludovic Lacay

Justin Adams vs. Marius Torbergsen

Ram Vaswani vs. Yevgeniy Timoshenko

Amit Makhija vs. McLean Karr

Neil Channing vs. Chris Moorman

Jani Sointula vs. Phil Ivey

Mark Everett vs. Gus Hansen

Mori Eskandani vs. Andrew Feldman

Saar Wilf vs. Talal Shakerchi

Andrew Robl vs. Touko Takala

Chance Kornuth vs. Daniel Negreanu
Day Two will be played on Wednesday.  Three rounds will be completed on Day Two, scheduled at 3 pm (32 down to 16 players), 7 pm (16 players down to 8 players), and 11 pm (8 players down to 4).  Players who survive to Round 4 (the final 16 players) will offcially finish in-the-money.  The final table, which is a best two-of-three heads-up series, will be played on Thursday, September 23rd.  The winner will receive £288,409, plus the coveted WSOP gold bracelet.
To see  the complete structure sheet, click HERE.
There is one more gold bracelet event still to come, which is the last opportunity to win a gold bracelet in 2010.  The tournament schedule closes out with the £10,000 buy-in Main Event championship, which begins on Thursday, starting at noon.  There will be two starting days, which means players can come and register as late as Friday.  The 2010 edition of WSOP Europe continues through September 28th. 

For more information about the WSOP and WSOP Europe, please click HERE.