It has been a memorable summer. Seemingly every day we were breaking a record, handing out bracelets to the biggest names in the game, or awarding one of nine seven-figure paydays. The 44th Annual World Series of Poker is one for the history books, but all of these bracelets and bounties are just a precursor to today.

It is Christmas morning for poker fans. The Main Event is here.

Each year, thousands of players make the pilgrimage to the Rio, put up the $10,000 entry fee, and take their seat in the biggest poker tournament of the year. This year’s journey begins today with Day 1A of the 2013 Main Event. The first of three starting flights in this year’s event, the opening day of action is already drawing some big names from both the poker world and the sports and entertainment industries.

Last year, comedian Kevin Pollak proved his poker skills were no joke, as he played his way to a 134th place finish in the Main Event. He will be back in action today, as will funnyman and Main Event regular Jason Alexander. The Rio will be brimming over with celebrities, as Boston Celtic Paul Pierce will be in action in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event and numbers expert and political blogger Nate Silver takes a big stack into the second day of the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event.

It goes without saying that poker’s best will be in attendance today as well. Reigning Main Event Champ and WSOP Player of the Year Greg Merson will begin his title defense today, but not before delivering those words people wait an entire year to hear: Shuffle Up and Deal. Last year, Merson defeated a field of 6,598 players to take home an astonishing $8,531,853 payday and the gold bracelet.

We are still ten days away from knowing which nine players will be battling for the bracelet at November’s final table. For the next week and a half, the poker world will collectively speculate whether Merson can make another run, which known pros will make a run to the November Nine, and whose Main Event finish will propel them to the top of the Player of the Year leaderboard. It is a week filled with promise, excitement, and, of course, poker.

Today the action gets underway at 12pm PT and play will continue until about 12:45am. The Day 1A field will play five two-hour levels over the course of Day 1 with a 20-minute break at the conclusion of each level. At the end of Level 3, the field will take a 90-minute dinner break. That is expected to begin at approximately 6:45pm.  Players will then return for two more levels of action before calling it a night.

Days 1B and 1C will follow the same schedule.  The surviving players from Day 1A and 1B will return Tuesday to play days 2A and 2B. Even though the fields will play at the same time, they will remain in separate areas of the Rio. Day 2C will play on Wednesday, then the fields will combine under one roof for Day 3 on Thursday.  The action continues through next weekend and will play down to this year's final table on Monday, July 15th.

Even if you are not in the field for the marquee event of the poker year, you can still be a part of all of the action. Be sure to follow @WSOP on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and to check in all day at for the latest news and headlines for the event. Once cards are in the air, our live updates will track all the action from Hand One to the crowning of the 2013 WSOP Main Event Champion.