LAS VEGAS » The $10 million winner of last year’s World Series of Poker main event won’t get to defend his title this year, but plenty of poker pros and a few celebrities are still chasing a $7.68 million top prize.
A total of 4,371 card players remained in the tournament at the start of a second session of no-limit Texas Hold ’em on Wednesday, as tournament officials announced the $60.3 million prize pool to be split among the top 1,000 finishers.
Swedish poker player Martin Jacobsen was among 6,420 entries into the series’ premiere event but last year’s winner was knocked out on Tuesday.
Each entry cost players $10,000 for the chance at poker supremacy. The tournament has fewer entries than last year, when 6,683 players entered.
Pro players Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey are all still in. So are celebrities Ray Romano and Brad Garrett, stars of "Everybody Loves Raymond." Film actors Jennifer Tilly and James Woods were also in the running still as of Wednesday afternoon.
Actor Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" and Phoenix Suns center Earl Barron busted out.
Tournament spokesman Seth Palansky said the number of entries is on par with entries for the past 10 years. Foreign poker players may have been discouraged to enter because of the currency conversion rate and the dollar’s strength compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro, he said.
"As a huge international event with 80-plus countries represented, this is the likely difference year to year," he said.
The final nine players will each return in November at least $1 million richer to compete for the top prize.
That $7.68 million prize is lower than last year’s guaranteed $10 million. After players told organizers they’d prefer more chances to make a profit than a higher top prize, tournament owner Caesars Interactive Entertainment spread the wealth, guaranteeing the top 1,000 finishers would win at least $15,000.
The main event marks the end of the 68-event World Series of Poker, which started May 27 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and filled convention center rooms with hundreds of poker tables and hallways with throngs of players.
The World Series of Poker has been crowning a card-playing champion since 1970.