Cannes, France (October 8, 2011) – The first of seven World Series of Poker tournaments opened Friday with the start of gold bracelet Event #1.  
 
The 2500 (euro) buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted an impressive field size totaling 360 players.  Attendance was up a whopping 47 percent from the similar Six-Handed opening tournament held at last year’s WSOP Europe in London.

Entering Day Two, which begins on Saturday, the early chip leader is Flavien Guenan, from Annecy, France.  He returns to play with 108,800 in chips.  Should he continue to perform well, this would be his first-ever WSOP cash.  
 
Only one other player has more than 100,000 in chips entering the second session – Benjamin Pollak from Paris, with 106,425.  All remaining players have less than 100,000.  There are only 77 survivors entering Day Two, which means 80 percent of the starting field was eliminated during the first session of play.

Among those who bit the dust were current and former world champions Jonathan Duhamel and Carlos Mortensen.  1989 world champ Phil Hellmuth remains very much alive entering the second day, with 41,000 in chips. 
 
Three of the four French WSOP gold bracelet winners from this year (in Las Vegas) played in the first event, including Fabrice Soulier, Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier, and Antonin Teisseire.  However, none of the French stars survived the opening session, which leaves big-stacked Flavien Guenan and Benjamin Pollak to try and become the fifth WSOP gold bracelet winners this year from France.

As was expected, tournament participation resembles a general session of the United Nations.  Countries with players currently on the leader board (top 25) include France, Italy, Slovenia, United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Chile, Canada, Japan, Germany and Great Britain.

Over the next two weeks, tournament play will be split between two venues – the luxurious Le Croisette Casino Barriere and Hotel Majestic Barriere.  The casino and hotel are nestled along the coastal esplanade facing the Mediterranean Sea.  Day Ones and final table action will be played at the hotel.  Restarts will be played inside the casino.    

The two poker venues are unquestionably the most glamorous settings for any poker tournament ever held.  Poker action is taking place inside the same ballrooms which host the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, held annually every May.  Indeed, most of Hollywood’s most-famous movie stars have stayed at the Majestic Barriere.  With the ghosts of Cary Grant, Orson Wells, Paul Newman, and countless other legends swirling in the air, over the next 12 days the most famous faces in this crowd will be poker players.  More than 30 former WSOP gold bracelet winners and at least five former world champions entered the first tournament, which is expected to conclude on Saturday.

Want to follow the poker action?  It’s easy.  Live updates for all seven gold bracelet events can be seen HERE.  WSOP Europe will also carry live video.  Streaming coverage (with occasional commentary) of all seven final tables will be broadcast live in wsop.com.  The first final table begins Sunday, at approximately 2 pm (local time).  The means WSOP Europe action can be seen in the United States early Sunday morning.  The live stream is expected to run most of the night/day. 

The full 2011 WSOP Europe schedule can be found at wsop.com.