A new record was set on Saturday as the largest Main Event Championship in the nine-year history of WSOP Circuits held here in New Orleans turned out for the prestigious finale.
A whopping 762 players turned up, surpassing even the most optimistic of projections. Attendance eclipsed last year's record turnout by nearly ten percent, was the previous high point had been 694. The years before that never drew more than around 500.
Fueled by the natural attraction of New Orleans, one of America's great cities, and the growing excitement which accompanies the 2012-2013 WSOP Circuit now winding down, players from all over the country flocked to Harrah's for the big send off competition.
Friday's Day 1A turnout drew 316 entrants. Another 446 joined the poker party on Saturday, which combined for the huge number. However, the opening sessions were not kind to the majority of entrants. Only 125 players survived the 12-hour opening sessions. They will combine into one field and return to action, starting at noon on Sunday.
Atop the poker pyramid here at Harrah's New Orleans after Day One is Rahul Deevara, from Atlanta, GA. He current stands with 466,000 in chips. That's a pretty impressive mark since the player ranked in second place sits with 373,000. In fact, chip leader Deevara has more than twice as any chips as 113 out of the 125 survivors. He's clearly the player to catch at the moment.
Some other recognizable names remaining in the field include Ben Mintz, currently ranked fourth.. The New Orleans local ended his session on Day 1A as the chip leader. However, the larger field on Day 1B was destined to catapult other players into a lofty status.
Daniel Lowery, from Peter Pender, AR rests in good position, ranked fifth. He won a gold ring here just four nights ago and has a shot at taking the Casino Champion title should be make a very deep run. Another gold ring winner from a few years ago, Mark Wilds, also sits in the top 20, as does Tripp Kirk.
The record turnout also creates a million-dollar plus sized prize pool. The tidy sum of $1,143,000 will be divided up among the 81 top finishers. The new champion receives the handsome sum of $228,600.
Here's a glance at the leaderboard.1 Rahul Deevara -- 466,0002 Daniel Weinman -- 373,0003 Claudia Crawford -- 313,0004 Ben Mintz -- 313,0005 Daniel Lowery -- 308,0006 Daniel Bishop -- 300,5007 Heatham Foty -- 295,0008 Brian Green -- 279,0009 Eli Loewenthal -- 273,00010 Mark Wilds -- 262,500
Sunday's session should be long, lasting until perhaps 2 am. But no one who plays that period will be complaining. Those who survive Sunday's session will be that much closer to the final table, which will be played out on Monday here at Harrah's New Orleans.