World Series of Poker event offers US$10 mil. prize

By Oskar Garcia, AP

Nearly 800 players with dreams of World Series of Poker glory started a marathon toward poker’s richest prize on Saturday — a guaranteed US$10 million payday and a place in history among the winners of the main event.

Thousands more were expected to start the no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event in Las Vegas on Sunday and Monday, with registrations overall pacing ahead of last year. About 4,000 would-be entrants played in smaller satellite tournaments at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino Saturday in hopes of winning an entry.

“I hope that I can survive Day 1,” said Michael Musich of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, whose wife rooted him on as he played his first hands. “They get tougher as it goes.”

Musich played among a field of 771 players with several poker legends, including 1987 and 1988 champion Johnny Chan, who was among the chip leaders after more than six hours. Also playing were 2003 champ Chris Moneymaker, and Antonio Esfandiari, who won an US$18.3 million score in 2012 in the series’ first ultra-exclusive US$1 million buy-in tournament.

From millionaire card sharks to home-game amateurs, players stake US$10,000 each for a shot to win millions in poker’s most popular variant. The no-limit betting rules mean players can wager all their chips at any time, risking their tournament chances in hopes of gaining more chips.

Those who busted on Day 1 included poker professionals Jean-Robert Bellande and Jason Mercier, as well as MTV reality star Trishelle Cannatella.