It’s been a summer filled with thrilling moments, old and new faces, and record-shattering attendance at the 2011 World Series of Poker. But no tournament held so far can boast of as big a prize pool nor as huge a mountain of cash going to the winner.
Indeed, the Sixth Annual “Poker Players Championship” will award a whopping $1,720,328 to the new champion. He will also receive two unique tokens of achievement -- for which there is no equal in the game of poker. First, the winner receives a custom-designed gold and diamond bracelet. He will also be awarded the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, named in honor of the inaugural champion of this event, the late, great David “Chip” Reese.
It's a good thing there is so much at stake, as the competition has now officially become the longest marathon of this year's WSOP. The five-day tournament has reached the end of Day Four. After a brutally long fourth day of play lasting 15 hours and ending at 6 am, players came within one spot of reaching the final table. The last day was originally planned to include just eight players. But once it became apparent that the final combatants were destined for what could have been a brutally-long and difficult test of endurance, the decision was made to stop play with nine players still remaining.
Accordingly, Day Five will commence with nine players and will play one player off the tourney, at which time the official final table will be set.
The nine finalists include several well-known poker veterans as well as a mix of lesser-known players who have yet to achieve a WSOP victory, despite reputations as the game's most talented and versatile performers. Once the final table is reached, finalists will be guaranteed at least $201,338 in prize money. Even the runner up shouldn’t be too disappointed with his consolation prize, since he will collect more than $1,000,000.
The remaining players and chip counts are as follows:
Minh Ly -- 5,215,000 in chips
Brian Rast -- 2,660,000 in chips
Matt Glantz -- 2,535,000 in chips
George Lind -- 2,315,000 in chips
Phil Hellmuth -- 2,245,000 in chips
Owais Ahmed -- 1,425,000 in chips
Ben Lamb -- 1,180,000 -- in chips
Jason Lester -- 920,000 in chips
Scott Seiver -- 725,000 in chips
Among the more notable headlines entering the fifth (and final) day is the third final table appearance this year for Phil Hellmuth. He will be seeking his record 12th WSOP gold bracelet victory, after two previous runner-up finishes in 2011. Gold bracelet winner Ben Lamb is also making headlines as the player who leads the 2011 "Player of the Year" race. However, it's worth noting that all of the nine remaining players have interesting sidebar stories and are more than capable of adding their names of the exclusive list of former champions in this event, which includes Chip Reese, Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, David Bach, and Michael "the Grinder" Mizrachi.
The Poker Players Championship cost $50,000 to enter, making it the priciest tournament in WSOP history. The high-stakes buy-in is designed to not only guarantee a huge top prize but also serves to create the most elite tournament field of players in all of poker -- similar to what The Masters tournament represents in golf.
Indeed, the tournament which began with 128 entrants was filled with master poker players. The level of competition was as stacked a field as any poker competition ever held. The field included a mix of poker legends along with relative newcomers to the live tournament poker scene. Many participants were online poker pros, who had won vast sums of money, but were not particularly accomplished in live tournament play. Nearly half of the field were former gold bracelet winners.
The Poker Players Championship is played using a Mixed Game format, rotating with eight different poker games. For this reason, this event is considered as the supreme test of all-around poker skill. While nothing quite compares to the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event Championship in terms of prize money and prestige, the Poker Players Championship is as close as any other event comes to rivaling the Main Event for bragging rights within the poker world.
As in years past, the final table will be televised by ESPN. The final day will also be broadcast semi-live (five-minute delay) over the Internet, at WSOP.COM.
Play will begin at 3 pm PST and will play until the winner has been determined.
You may also follow the action at WSOP.COM with regular live updates.