The question everyone in poker seems to be asking right now is – how big will Colossus II be? 

Could this year’s $565 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which is the first open gold bracelet event on the 2016 World Series of Poker schedule, become the largest live poker tournament ever in history?

Last year, the bar was certainly set high.

The inaugural tourney smashed the old record for the largest tournament ever, and not by a small margin.  The record wasn’t merely doubled -- it was topped threefold.  The 2015 Colossus attracted a whopping 22,374 entries, which obliterated the previous high mark for a live tournament which had been set a decade earlier at the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship, when 8,773 players entered the event.

Colossus II began at 10 a.m. on Thursday, which was the first of six starting flights to be played over three consecutive days.  The WSOP started with seven-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee Billy “Lowball” Baxter performing the official “Shuffle Up and Deal” honors, alongside his family assembled upon the main stage inside the cavernous Brasilia Room, one of three mega-arenas packed to capacity for the start of the tournament.

Once cards went into the air, the evolving question of the day has become – will this year’s Colossus top last year's record field size?   WSOP media staff approached several notable players who participated in Flight A (Thursday).  They offered the following over-under assessments, from lowest to highest:

19,000 – Melissa Hayden (Marina Del Rey, CA)
23,500 – Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler (Las Vegas, NV)
26,000 -- Everett Carlton (St. Paul, MN)
27,950 – Rex Clinkscales (Dallas, TX)
31,799 – Maria Ho (Arcadia, CA)

Based on these estimates, along with several other guesses, it appears to be a 50/50 proposition as to whether a new record will be set.  It will take at least 22,375 to break the record, so that's the magic number.

This year’s Colossus II includes a $7 million guaranteed prize pool.  The winner is assured of walking away with at least a $1 million cash prize, in addition to the gold bracelet.

Last year’s champion was Cord Garcia, a 25-year-old poker pro from Houston, TX. Garcia has already started his title defense. He fell short in the first flight, but said he plans to re-enter and attempt to win the huge tournament in back-to-back years.

Colossus II runs through next Tuesday, June 7th.  At that time, the final table will take place on the ESPN main stage at which the first gold bracelet champion on an open event will be crowned.  The 2016 WSOP got underway on Wednesday with the start of the Casino Employees Championship, which has become an annual tradition.