IT. IS. TIME. 2013 World Series of Poker Begins Today

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Christmas in May has arrived. It’s World Series of Poker time! Today, May 29th, 2013, the 44th Annual World Series of Poker kicks off, just the first of 49 consecutive days of wall-to-wall poker action at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino just off the Las Vegas Strip.

The first cards will be in the air at high noon for the traditional first event of the WSOP, the $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em Event. One of just three “closed” tournaments on the schedule (along with the Seniors and Ladies Events), the Casino Employees Event debuted in the year 2000 as the “Dealers World Poker Championship,” open only to poker dealers. That tournament boasted a field of just 109 players and, as they were all poker dealers, the game was taken very seriously. In subsequent years, as the tournament opened to all casino employees and became more popular, the environment became much looser, to the point where the final three players in the 2003 event were doing shots at the table.

The Casino Employees Event grew steadily over its first few years, peaking in 2006 when 1,232 players entered the tournament. That was also the first year WSOP officials made it a two-day event. Numbers haven’t been quite the same since then, but have stayed in the 700’s and 800’s the last several years.

Also starting today is Event #2: $5,000 Eight-Handed No-Limit Hold’em, a tournament scheduled for four days. Expect a solid field for this one, as the higher buy-in will limit registration numbers to some degree, while most of the best pros will be attracted to both the game type and shorter tables. Plus, the next few days will feature tournaments that are either lower buy-in, more specialized games, or both, as the WSOP gets set for the “Millionaire Maker.”

Speaking of which, the “Millionaire Maker” will begin on Saturday, June 1st, and will run for three days. The first day will be split into two flights; players who bust out on Day 1A will be allowed to plunk down another $1,500 buy-in and try again on Day 1B. The tournament gets its name from the $1 million guaranteed first prize put up by Caesars Entertainment. This should be a gigantic tournament, attracting low-rollers because of the buy-in and high-rollers because of the guarantee.

Of course, the World Series of Poker culminates with the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event, which starts Saturday, July 6th. Like last year, there will be three starting flights, each of which will run for five two-hour levels. The survivors of each flight will then compete in separate Day 2 flights (Day 1A survivors will move on to Day 2A, etc.), after which point all survivors from the Day 2 flights will combine into a single field on Day 3. Days 2A and 2B will run concurrently on July 9th, but the fields will be in separate rooms. Day 2C will be held on July 10th. Day 7 on  July 15th will be the last day of the WSOP this summer; once the final table of the Main Event is determined, the remaining players will become the “November Nine” and return to the Rio to play down to a winner November 4th and 5th.

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