Saturday, June 06, 2009

WSOP Sells Out Three of First Nine Events, by Tom Jenkins - Poker News Daily - 6th June 2009

The 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has already been firmly cemented as one of our industry’s most epic events ever. Three of the first nine tournaments were sold out for the first time in WSOP history, including the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special event, which attracted 6,000 runners.

The seventh event of the 2009 WSOP was a $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event, the first of that genre to take place following the Stimulus Special. In fact, the tournaments began just three days apart, meaning another record field was likely on tap. As a result, 2,791 players showed up for the WSOP’s second sellout of 2009. Harrah’s officials determine whether an event has reached its capacity based on the number of players surviving the previous day’s tournaments combined with demand for the new schedule of events. Last year, 2,706 players took to the field in Event #7, which was won by Vitaly Lunkin.

In the end, Travis Johnson banked $666,000 and his first bracelet from Event #7, defeating Steve Karp heads-up. Others reaching the final table included Michael Ciotola (third place for $273,385), Mark Salinaro (fourth place for $193,343), Craig McConville (fifth place for $145,721), Brian McInnis (sixth place for $116,234), Walter Wright (seventh place for $97,985), Jim McClain (eighth place for $87,013), and Kam Low (ninth place for $81,185). The top 296 players finished in the money in the sold out affair, which emanated from the Amazon Room inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Sin City.

Similarly, Event #9, the $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Six-Max tournament, drew 1,459 players, also a sellout. An e-mail sent to WSOP media this week noted, “With this event being six-handed, all available tables not being utilized for restarts were taken up by Event #9. Last year, this same event was Event #9 on the schedule and had 1,236 entrants. The 1,459 entrants represents a 223 player – or 18% - increase year over year.” The 2009 version of the Six-Max event, which wrapped up Friday night, was ultimately won by Ken Aldridge, who defeated Carman Cavella heads-up. The final table also featured Peter Gould (third place for $170,953), Bryce Yockey (fourth place for $115,230), Charles Furey (fifth place for $80,896), and Manny Minaya (sixth place for $59,049).

This year marks the first time that three of the first nine WSOP events have been sold out. Whether the numbers are a function of the placement of the $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th running of the WSOP remains to be seen. The event was the second on the docket of the 2009 WSOP and brought out poker’s biggest stars. Its 201 entrants generated the largest non-Main Event prize pool in WSOP history at $7.7 million. The aforementioned Lunkin was its winner and took home $1.8 million for his showing.

Immediately following the $40,000 buy-in tournament was a $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better event that drew 918 entrants, making it the largest Omaha High-Low event in WSOP history. The sizable field didn’t faze Thang Luu, who took down the event for $263,000. It marked a monumental feat for Luu, who became the first player since Johnny Chan to win an event twice and also finish as its runner-up in a three-year span. Chan accomplished the feat in the Main Event, winning the tournament in 1987 and 1988 before falling to Ultimate Bet’s Phil Hellmuth in 1989.

No discussion of tournament sellouts would be complete without mentioning the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special, which attracted the largest non-Main Event field in WSOP history at 6,000 players. The tournament required two starting days and players were sprawled throughout the halls of the Rio, including several who could be found in Buzio’s Seafood Restaurant.

The 2009 WSOP will begin airing on ESPN on Tuesday, July 28th with the $40,000 No Limit Hold’em event. On August 4th, the WSOP Champions Invitational will air, followed by the Ante Up for Africa festivities on August 11th. Starting on August 18th, action from the $10,000 buy-in Main Event will hit television airwaves, concluding with its final table on Tuesday, November 10th.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest WSOP news. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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