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July 25, 2014

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Photos: World Poker Tour ends at Bellagio; World Series of Poker begins at The Rio

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Joe Giron/World Poker Tour

2013 World Poker Tour $25K Championship winner Chino Rheem at Bellagio.

2013 World Poker Tour $25K Championship at Bellagio

The 2013 World Poker Tour Super High Roller winner David Sands at Bellagio. Launch slideshow »

Greg Merson Wins 2012 WSOP Main Event

Greg Merson, 24, of Laurel, Md., holds up his championship bracelet after winning the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Merson takes home a championship bracelet and $8.5 million in prize money. Launch slideshow »

Casino employees play poker like high rollers starting today when the 44th annual World Series of Poker begins and continues through July 15. On Saturday, the poker princes, princesses and players descend on The Rio for the first $1,500 buy-in event that guarantees the first $1 million in prize money.

The Main Event with its $10,000 buy-in starts July 6 with tens of thousands of players resulting in the Final Nine to play Nov. 4-5 on ESPN. WSOP programming that captures the excitement of Las Vegas airs in 84 countries on five continents available to 300 million households. WSOP, which began in 1970, is gaming’s premiere event. In its 44 years, it has paid out more than $1.6 billion.

Last year, entries topped 230,000, with a record of more than $222 million paid out. The nearly 75,000 entries for the 62 bracelet events were the second most of all time, with 6,600 entered for the Main Event. Defending champion Greg Merson of Maryland, who won $8,531,853, is returning. Three ballrooms at The Rio are set up with more than 500 tables for the registered players, card sharks and amateur hopefuls representing 101 countries and competing in 62 events.

This year’s charity event for Guy Laliberte’s water foundation One Drop has a $111,111 buy-in and is June 26-28. ESPN will cover WSOP every Tuesday, with 34 episodes airing July 23 through Nov. 5.

Meantime, the World Poker Tour wrapped at Bellagio after a week. In the Super High Roller game, six players battled for the $1 million prize. With 21 entrants in the $100,000 buy-in tournament, it was no surprise that the Final Table included the most talented players, including David Sands, Joseph Cheong, Andrew Robl and Daniel Perper. It took nearly 8 hours before David emerged victorious for his first WPT title and was crowned Season XI Super High Roller Champion.

The Final Table of the WPT World Championship wound up as one of the most dramatic season-closing events in its history. David “Chino” Reem won $1.1 million, with Erick Lindgren in second with $650,275. But it was Matt Salsberg who won the XI Player of the Year honors and a custom-made $75,000 poker table. It took 600 hours to build using 15 different types of wood.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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