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World Series of Poker Main Event exceeds expectations in registration

Monday will be the first of two Day 2s, as 2,031 players will continue their WSOP quest

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Justin M. Bowen

Poker players compete at the ESPN featured table during Day 1C of the World Series of Poker main event at the Rio Las Vegas Saturday, July 9, 2011. To accommodate all the entries, there are four “first days” for the main event.

Updated Monday, July 11, 2011 | 2:18 a.m.

WSOP 07/09/2011

Last years winner, Jonathan Duhamel, folds his hand during Day 1C of the World Series of Poker main event at the Rio Las Vegas Saturday, July 9, 2011. To accommodate all the entries, there are four Launch slideshow »

2011 WSOP Main Event Final Table Payouts

  • 1st — $8,711,956
  • 2nd — $5,430,928
  • 3rd — $4,019,635
  • 4th — $3,011,665
  • 5th — $2,268,909
  • 6th — $1,720,000
  • 7th — $1,313,851
  • 8th — $1,009,910
  • 9th — $782,115

Notable End of Day 1D Approximate Chip Counts

  • Jeff Madsen — 74,000
  • Vanessa Rousso — 65,000
  • Joseph Cheong — 54,000
  • Mike Sexton — 50,000
  • Joe Hachem — 45,000
  • Huck Seed — 43,000
  • Darvin Moon — 43,000
  • Jeff Lisandro — 42,000
  • Phil Galfond — 39,000
  • Daniel Alaei — 13,000
  • Barry Greenstein — 12,000
  • Jeff Shulman — 7,000
  • Antonio Esfandiari — 0
  • John Juanda — 0
  • Tom Dwan — 0

World Series of Poker officials’ optimism about the amount of players in this year’s Main Event wasn’t hyperbole or wishful thinking.

Despite the perceived setback from the shutdown of many online poker sites, the 2011 Main Event attracted its third largest field of all time. When registration closed Sunday, the final of four starting days, WSOP officials announced that 6,865 players had paid the $10,000 to buy into poker’s world championship.

“This summer underscores the appeal of the game and the power of this event,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart stated. “We're so thankful for all those who came from around the world to demonstrate that poker continues to grow.”

Players flocked to the Rio for Sunday’s Day 1D, which came in as the Main Event’s most popular starting day with 2,802 registrants. That put the total amount of entries for the WSOP’s 58 events this summer at 75,672, which breaks last year’s record by more than 200 people.

This is where members of the WSOP staff could chuckle and proclaim, “told you so." It would be more difficult to find a well-known poker professional who could do the same.

Players were generally more pessimistic about attendance at the Main Event. Last year’s champion, Jonathan Duhamel, had one of the higher estimates at 6,000 people — and even that guess was eclipsed by more than 800.

Poker Hall of Famer and World Poker Tour commentator Mike Sexton said most of his friends had set the over/under on attendance at 5,400 players before the Main Event began.

“I would have bet under 5,800 probably,” Sexton said. “Fortunately, I didn’t get in on it. I was trying to bet over 5,200, but I didn’t get action on it. I think everyone is a little surprised.”

The players created a prize pool of $64,531,000. The winner will pocket $8.7 million — about $250,000 less than Duhamel last year — and each of the top eight finishers will become millionaires.

Payouts start at 693rd place for $19,359.

“Online poker hurts, but it’s the Main Event,” said poker professional Jeff Madsen. “People still want to play it. Poker is growing all over the world, so they are going to come play the Main Event regardless.”

Out of the long list of notables starting the tournament Sunday, Madsen and Sexton had two of the best showings through eight hours of play.

Sexton, a one-time WSOP bracelet winner, stayed around the 30,000-chip starting point for most of the day until two hours remained and he won a big pot to nearly double-up.

Madsen, the 2006 WSOP Player of the Year and two-time bracelet winner, chipped up all day and was near the top of the leader board with 90,000 chips entering the final two-hour level.

“I’ve had a couple fortunate hands and picked my spots well when I decided to bluff,” Madsen said. “It’s gone really well.”

Madsen, Sexton and the rest of the players who will move on to one of two Day 2s at the Main Event can breathe a sigh of relief. They are playing for a large prize pool in line with recent years at the WSOP.

“Nobody thought it would be quite this high, but it doesn’t shock me,” Sexton said. “It’s a great turnout here. Obviously, the World Series of Poker can be proud of the event.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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