It’s finally here! Today begins the 2014 World Series of Poker with the first two of a record 65 bracelet events kicking off a summer full of nonstop poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Following recent tradition, the series will begin with Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em, then later in the afternoon the much-anticipated Event #2: $25,000 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold’em will get underway.
$25K Fantasy Draft Whets Appetite for Action
Last night WSOP players and fans got a head start on the action with the $25K Fantasy Draft. For the fourth year running, the high buy-in WSOP fantasy league organized by Daniel Negreanu got plenty of participation as well as attention from railbirds following the updates here on PokerNews.
Twelve teams selected eight players each for their WSOP fantasy rosters, instantly adding those 96 players to the “what to watch for” list for the next seven-and-a-half weeks. Last year Team Matthew Waxman topped 14 teams to win the $210,000 first prize thanks to having selected David “Bakes” Baker, David Chiu, and Erick Lindgren and other top performers during the 2013 WSOP.
This year Phil Ivey was most expensive player drafted with Team Media (managed by PokerNews’ own Donnie Peters and Rich Ryan) going for $101 of the team’s allotted budget of $200 to spend on eight players. Jason Mercier ($87), Scott Seiver ($86), and Negreanu ($86) were next on the list of most coveted players in the auction-style draft format.
Click here to read the live updates from last night’s draft, and follow the standings all summer at 25kfantasy.com.
Casino Employees To Kick It Off
Last summer Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em got the WSOP off to an exciting start with PokerNews’ own Chad Holloway managing to top a field of 898 players to win the bracelet and $84,915 first prize. Play in the two-day event begins today at 12 noon Pacific time.
After a three-year stint of “Casino Operators” events back in the mid-1980s, an event expressly for casino employees was added in 2000 and has remained a part of the WSOP schedule ever since. Starting as the “Dealers World Poker Championship” then the “Employee Event,” it has been known as the “Casino Employees” event for several years with the buy-in remaining at $500 ever since its reintroduction. From 2000-2003 it was played as a limit hold’em event before changing to NLHE in 2004.
As the name suggests, participation is limited to those employed in some capacity by a casino. The largest field ever for the event came in 2006 when 1,232 participated. A big turnout is expected again this year, one which will include the defending champ:
Officially registered for my @wsop title defense in Event 1 $500 Casino Employees. It's on tomorrow at Noon. http://t.co/P9nGZf4AkGFollow @ChadAHolloway
Star-Studded Field Expected for $25K Mixed-Max
Meanwhile the first hands of the four-day Event #2: $25,000 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold’em will be dealt at 4 p.m. this afternoon. Players will start out playing nine-handed today, then will switch to six-handed for tomorrow’s Day 2 and then four-handed for Day 3. Finally on Friday the last four players will return for Day 4 to play it out in the heads-up tourney format.
The “Mixed-Max” format has been tried at the WSOP before with events having been played each of the last two years, but never with a buy-in of more than $5,000.
There will surely be a number of big names — including a few of those selected in last night’s $25K Fantasy Draft — participating in this one. Among the players looking forward to starting off their WSOPs with Event #2 are Sam Trickett and Phil Galfond:
Can't wait to get stuck into the WSOP.$25k mixed max tomorrow.Behaving my self today and having a relaxing day....Follow @Samtrickett1
Kicking off my #WSOP tomorrow w/ the $25k mixed max. I don't usually make bold predictions, but I think I probably won't win this first one.Follow @PhilGalfond
PokerNews’ start-to-finish coverage of all 65 events of the 2014 WSOP begins today at noon Pacific time with the first hands of Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em. Follow all of the action from the 2014 WSOP on our Live Reporting Pages. And stay tuned throughout the summer for plenty more from our What To Watch For series.