In the beginning, everything was even-money.
 
-- Mike Caro, Poker Legend and Theorist
 

Las Vegas, NV (June 1, 2011) – The biggest, greatest, grandest, most spectacular poker attraction in the universe began today. 
 
The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is currently hosting the 42nd annual World Series of Poker.  This year’s 58-tournament poker series officially began today with the start of the Casino Employees Championship, which is classified as Event #1.
 
WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel took the main stage inside the Pavilion Tournament Room and started things in grand style.  Keeping with ritual that has become an annual tradition, all casino employees were asked to join in with a rousing rendition of the customary announcement which begins all WSOP events.  "Shuffle Up and Deal" boomed across the room at 12:35 pm and cards flew into the air for the first time this year on the tournament floor. 
 
Over the next seven weeks, the Rio will be the epicenter of all things poker-related.  Poker players, media, and fans from all over the world are expected to flood into Las Vegas for what promises to be the most exciting and expansive WSOP in history.
 
Based on at least one very early indication, it appears that poker players continue to revere the World Series with unequaled reverence and dedication.  Attendance for the first event up significantly over last year when there were 721 entries for the debut event.  At press time, the same tournament this year has attracted more than 850 entries, and is still climbing. 
 
Could the WSOP once again defy all the challenges of economic recession, perpetual pessimism, and increasing global competition?  Will the WSOP once again surpass everyone’s expectations and shatter attendance and prize money records?  We shall see.    
 
The Casino Employee’s Championship has been the launching pad of most WSOP calendars since it was first added as a gold bracelet event, back in 2000.  The tournament was initially called the “Dealers World Poker Championship," since the tournament was only open to casino dealers at the time.  The following year, all casino employees became eligible.  The inaugural event attracted only 109 entries.  It doubled in size the next year due to the expanded eligibility.  
 
The Casino Employees Championship was initially added to the WSOP schedule to recognize the considerable contributions of many dedicated professionals in the gaming industry.  It has been an official gold bracelet event during all 11 years it’s been held.
 
From 2000 to 2003, the Casino Employees Championship was played as a Limit Hold’em tournament.  Since 2004, the event has been a No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  The largest turnout in history for this event took place at the 2006 WSOP when 1,232 players entered.
 
The previous list of previous winners of the Casino Employees Championship includes:
 
Hoai Pham (2010)
Andrew Cohen (2009)
Jonathan Kotula (2008)
Eric Narciso (2007)
Chris Gros (2006)
Andy Nguyen (2005)
Carl “Coach” Nessel (2004)
David Lukaszweski (2003)
David Warga (2002)
Travis Jonas (2001)
Dave Alizadeh (2000)
 
The WSOP continues at the Rio through July 19th.  For LIVE UPDATES, please stay tuned to WSOP.COM.