West Palm Beach, FL (Feb. 27) – The World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event began today at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

The $1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Championship attracted a huge field totaling 712 players.  The total prize pool came to $1,035,960.  The top 72 finishers will be played.

The field was so large that two starting sessions were required – a rarity for big buy-in tournaments.  The first of three schedule playing days included a first session which began at 11 am on Sunday morning.  The tournament played until about 6:30 pm.  The second session with a new group of players began at 7 pm and ended at 2:30 am.  The 368 survivors from both sessions will constitute the combined field on Day Two.

Day Two begins on Monday at 12 noon EST.  Play is expected to continue until about 2:30 am, making a very long day for all players fortunate enough to survive.  The third day will include the battle down to the final table, which will be played on the main stage appropriately called “The Finish Line,” adjacent to the racetrack grandstand.

The end of Day One chip leader is Ryan Sponaugle, from Palm Harbor, FL.  He final tabled a previous event here at Palm Beach.  The top ten players entering Day Two are as follows:

Ryan Sponaugle    201,200       
Tom Nguyen    135,400       
Charles R. Coates    128,600       
John Riordan    116,000       
William Kerns    113,500       
Francisco Hernandez    108,300       
Matthew Ehrlich    105,800       
Stuart Paterson    102,600       
Joshua Hillock    102,400       
Paul Sevrei    99,100       

Among the notable names still alive are 2007 WSOP Main Event champion Jerry Yang.  Six-time gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee T.J. Cloutier is also still in the running.  The WSOP Circuit Main Event champion at the Palm Beach Kennel Club will receive a top prize totaling $210,180.  He or she will also be awarded a WSOP Circuit gold ring, the coveted prize awarded to all winners in poker’s biggest and most prestigious national tournament series.

This is the ninth of ten gold ring events at this year’s inaugural WSOP Circuit Palm Beach series.  In fact, this is the first time any Circuit series has ever taken place in Florida.  Based on the big turnout not only for this tournament but all events so far, one can expect more big-time tournaments coming to Florida in the future.

Also at stake is the “Best All-Around” point leader for this year’s Palm Beach series.  The poker player who accumulates the most overall points for all ten gold ring events receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in May at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

For live updates of the Main Event championship, click HERE.