Although official confirmation is still awaited, it looks as if Main Event entries for the 39th World Series of Poker have comfortably overtaken those for last year's event, suggesting that despite US restrictions and adverse economic conditions, the game is still very much alive and kicking.
 
Associated Press quotes official WSOP sources indicating that total Main Event entries this (2008) year have, at 6 844, surpassed the 2007 total of 6 358, although it lags behind the 2006 entry field of 8 773.
 
The likely size of the prize-pool will be over $64 million, delivering a main prize of $9 million and ensuring that the last 660 players standing will cash.
 
About 2 461 players entered the last of the Day 1 "heats," Day 1D, the last chance for players to register. The roughly Pokerstars$9 million top prize would be the second largest in the main event's history. Last year, California psychologist Jerry Yang emerged from a field of 6 358 players to win a top prize of $8.25 million.
 
Tournament spokesman Seth Palansky told AP that the number of entrants was what tournament officials were expecting, about equal to the event's average for the last five years.
 
Former world champions who have survived their Day Ones thus far are: John Daugherty, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Scotty Nguyen and Robert Varkonyi.
 
1 026 players survived Day 1C (see previous InfoPowa report) including David Singer, Brad Booth, Evelyn Ng, Nenad Medic, Brian Townsend, Liz Lieu, Rolf Slotboom, Mike Matusow, Minh Nguyen, Bertrand Grospellier, Bill Chen, Matt Graham, Mike Binger, Eric Lynch, Clonie Gowen, Lacey Jones and Mel Judah, representing a still formidable challenger despite the dismissal of many big names already.
 
Henning Granstad from Oslo, Norway has been confirmed as not only Day 1C chip leader but also of Days 1A amd 1B, finishing on  $249 950 in chips.
 
Day 1D started with entries like Victor Ramdin, the Jetts, Antonio Esfandiari, Steve Billirakis, Shane Schleger, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, Steve Dannenman, Ryan Daut, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Phil Gordon, Mark Newhouse, Eskimo Clark, Hevad Khan, Phil Ivey, Scott Clements, Johnny Chan, Jean-Robert Bellande, Phil Hellmuth, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Carlos Mortensen, Barbara Enright and Chris Ferguson.
 
Departures of note so far have been Andy Bloch, Annie Duke, Raymond Davis, David Williams, Joe Pelton and Tim Vance, along with Jose Conseco, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffen and Glen Chorny.
 
As we went to press Michael Mizrachi was staging a comeback, and Italian young gun Dario Minieri was still going at oit hammer and tongs with typically aggressive play.
 
Phil Hellmuth made a grand entrance during the third hour of play, dressed as an Army general with 11 stars on his helmet, equal to the record number of gold bracelets he has won at the World Series of Poker. He was flanked by 11 girls who marched in with him to ESPN's feature table, exciting the crowd and drawing the attention of the cameras.
 
Large crowds packed the aisles outside the table areas, looking to watch their favorite players sitting nearby.
 
Poker professional Phil "The Unabomber" Laak took the opposite route of Hellmuth and others, and tried to stay as unrecognisable as possible, the AP report notes. He wore a prosthetic mask and wig that made him look completely different and said only a handful of people knew about it, including his girlfriend, actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly, and his friend and fellow poker player, Antonio Esfandiari.