IMPORTANT NOTE:  CHANGE OF SCHEDULE
PLEASE NOTE THE RESTART FOR EVENT #1 (MILLION DOLLAR GUARANTEE) ON SUNDAY WILL TAKE PLACE AT 3 PM EST.  THE PREVIOUSLY-SCHEDULED RE-START TIME WAS ANNOUNCED AS 12 NOON.  INSTEAD, THE SURVIVORS OF ALL DAY ONES WILL BE UNITED AND RESUME PLAY ON SUNDAY AT 3 PM.
 
 
A FULL LIST OF REMAINING PLAYERS IN EVENT #1 -- BY CHIP COUNT, BY NAME, AND BY TABLE/SEAT CAN BE SEEN HERE -- CLICK HERE -- (player lists will be posted by 1 am EST at the close of the Saturday night session)
 
 

West Palm Beach, FL (February 18, 2012) -- Depending on where you were positioned on Saturday morning, it was either the biggest tailgate party in poker history, or a near riot.

The opening attraction of the “12 rings in 12 days” tournament poker series almost blew the doors off the Palm Beach Kennel Club, located in sunny South Florida. 

Attendance for the “One Million Dollar Guarantee” No-Limit Hold’em opener – Event #1 -- attracted a whopping 2,607 entrants.  The turnout represented the second-largest poker event in World Series of Poker Circuit history.  It was also the largest prize pool ever for any WSOP Circuit tournament, aside from the high-stakes buy-in Main Events at each Circuit stop.

What’s even more remarkable is the venue for this near record-breaking event.  This was not the Rio on Las Vegas.  This was not some sprawling mega-casino in the populous Northeast.  This was not a giant entertainment venue with a stranglehold on the local poker action.

Instead, the tidal wave of poker players flooded into a dog track in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Which leads to a natural quip, that poker may very well be "going to the dogs."

To be fair, the Palm Beach Kennel Club is an exciting and accommodating host.  Currently hosting WSOP Circuit players for the second consecutive season, organizers (led by Noah Carbonne and his excellent staff) have done a remarkable job in planning and coordinating this record-setting spectacle.  Its poker tables were filled to absolute capacity – and then some – during each of the three opening days of what is billed as a “One Million Dollar Guarantee” on the prize pool.

The enormous turnout did pose a wild scene, unprecedented for any previous poker tournament.  No doubt, it was a poker first.  Prior to the third and final opening session, which began on Saturday, players began dutifully lining up at the front doors of the Palm Beach Kennel Club – some arriving as early at 4 am.  By 11 am, the scheduled start time for the tournament, the crowd hoping to get a seat and compete for the $1,250,345 in prize money at stake had swelled to an estimated 600 to 700 bodies.

Mind you, this was not an NFL stadium or a rock concert.  This was a poker tournament.  The parking lot was covered with lawn chairs.  Some players flung Frisbees.  Others threw footballs around the lot.  The scene resembled a giant tailgate party.

Unfortunately, the final number of tournament seats open to latecomers was severely limited.  This eventually created a scene that some described as surreal.  As it became apparent that not everyone would get to play, some players in back began charging to the front of the line, hoping to cut in and get one of the precious few-remaining seats.  Some of the early places in line were selling for more than $1,000 (yes, there were scalpers -- a poker first).  A few minutes into the closing moments of the registration process, security had to be called to restore order.

It was the closest thing to a riot in poker as has ever happened.  Reminiscent of the final opening session of the 2009 WSOP Main Event when an estimated 500 late registrants were denied entry into poker’s world championship in Las Vegas, tournament officials essentially did everything possible to accommodate as many players as possible.

For one thing, when the “Million Dollar Guarantee” was initially announced two months earlier, virtually everyone associated with the tournament stressed the importance of early registration.  Players were permitted to register online as early as December.  In fact, all those who went online and registered properly were able to play.  Players could also walk up and pre-pay months in advance inside the poker room.

Nevertheless, organizers did add an extra flight, which allowed an addition 220 players to play.  There were also a few hundred alternates who were permitted to participate in the starting flights.

Tournament Director Jimmy Sommerfeld was not at all surprised by the huge turnout.  He expected huge numbers based on what he’s seen so far this season at many WSOP Circuit stops.  Sommerfeld commented afterward that had more tournament seats been available, the Palm Beach Kennel Club would likely have attracted at least another 600-800 entries over the three-day starting sessions, in fact making it the largest WSOP Circuit event in history.  But Chicago’s record number (3,001 players), set earlier this season, will continue to stand -- at least another year.

The WSOP Circuit continues at the Palm Beach Kennel Club through the end of the month.  Remaining events are expected to be well attended, but will also have more than enough seats for all players who want to enter.  The exception could be the $1,600 buy-in Main Event, which starts next weekend.  Once again, players are encouraged to come and register early in order to be guaranteed a seat in the championship.

For more information, please see PALM BEACH KENNEL CLUB WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE.