World Series of Poker organisers do not seem overly concerned that the player entries for Day 1A of the main event are down 40 percent this year at 1 300 hopefuls.

But speculation that the reduced interest may be due to the decision to exclude online poker sponsorships this year may be a little premature. Jeffrey Pollack, the WSOP commissioner says the dip may be due to other factors and that there is nothing to substantiate the Internet exclusion theory.

"This year's WSOP is the best ever," the official says. "Poker is alive and well based on the great success we've had for the entire 2007 Series. Whether we have three, six, or nine thousand players in the main event, everyone who plays will have a wonderful and thrilling experience."

Observers making projections based on Day 1A estimate that if Days 1B through 1D follow the same trend, the total main event field could be as low as 5 000 players – way down from last year's record 8 773 entrants, which included Internet sponsored seats. Registration remains open until the end of Day 1.

When the first sitting commenced Friday, there were few who had paid the $10 000 entry fee thinking about total numbers, however as George Wallace made the traditional triggering call for the event of "Shuffle up and deal."

Among some of the better known names in poker who chose to start in the first section of Day 1 were Doyle Brunson (who received an ovation from the players as he took his seat) Johnny Chan, Mike Sexton, Spiderman Tobey McGuire, Huck Seed Amarillo Slim, Michael Mizrachi, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond' star Brad Garrett, Jeff Madsen, David Grey and Barry Greenstein.