This week in World Series of Poker history will be remembered as one of the richest, what with large fields, seven figure paydays, and that little tournament called Big One for One Drop. The wealth of poker paydays isn’t over yet though. Today marks the start of another marquee event of the 2012 WSOP and, while it may not have a million-dollar price tag to pay, it does offer many a chance at a piece of a million dollars of freerolled cash in the WSOP National Championship.

Last year, the inaugural National Championship pitted 100 tough WSOP Circuit competitors against one another as they each vied for their share of a $1 million prize pool in the freeroll event. This year, there is a new wrinkle in the tournament that is going to add familiar faces as well as up to an additional million dollars to the pot.  The crop of 100 WSOP Circuit players, comprised of Main Event winners, Casino Champions, and at large qualifiers are back, but they will have company.  You see, the top 100 qualifiers in the WSOP World Rankings also have the opportunity to play.  They can buy into the tournament for $10,000, all of which goes directly to the prize pool, rake-free.

The 200 players qualified for this event run the gamut from amateur poker enthusiast to Circuit grinder to Main Event Champion and the mix is sure to be an entertaining one. Don’t let the idea that this tournament is all fun and games just because it is a freeroll for most of the field though. These players are serious competitors and there is going to be a lot of money on the line.

Just ask Sam Barnhart, last year’s National Championship whose reign is about to come to an end. Last year the Arkansas poker player picked up $300,000 for his victory in the event, then turned around and parlayed that into a 17th place finish in the WSOP Main Event. This year, the first place payout is only going to get bigger, so with that kind of money and a gold bracelet on the line, players are going to bring their A game.

And just who are the players we’ll be seeing in this event? We’ve already profiled some of the top WSOP Circuit performers like recent gold bracelet winner Chris Tryba, Bryan Devonshire, five-time WSOPC ring winner Mark Smith, all of whom are expected to be in attendance. They will be joined by the likes of Michael Mizrachi, Brian Rast, three-time gold bracelet winner Matt Matros, and 2010 WSOP Main Event Champion Jonathan Duhamel.

Cards are in the air for this event at 12pm PT this afternoon and registration for the 100 players who can buy-in to the event is open through the first four levels. With forty minute levels, registration is expected to close at around 2:55pm. This three-day event will play on Friday and Saturday, then pause the action once the final table is reached.

In addition to a payday, the final nine in the National Championship will also be treated to a stint under the ESPN lights as they play down to a winner on the televised final table on Wednesday, July 11th.

Live updates
from the event will be available on The structure sheet for the tournament is available here.