Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the World Series of Poker, the organizers have this year included a special champion of champions event which carries more prestige than cold, hard cash (the winner's prize is a beautifully restored 1970 vintage Corvette and the new Jack Binyon trophy – we would wager there will be some interesting side bets, too!)
The Champions Invitational saw 20 former WSOP champions take to the felt in an impressive display of poker legend and expertise that attracted crowds of spectators at the Rio in Las Vegas. All of the 20 players, each famous in their own right in the world of poker, received a personal introduction from WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack before the competition started.
Pollack saluted the likes of youthful Peter Eastgate, who was last year's Main Event winner, Jerry Yang, Jamie Gold, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker, Robert Varkonyi, Carlos Mortensen, Chris Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen, Huck Seed, Dan Harrington, Jim Bechtel, Brad Daugherty, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Berry Johnston, Tom McEvoy, Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim in the biggest gathering of former world champions yet seen.
The aces soon got down to business, and by the end of Day 1 there were only 10 players left, with Carlos Mortenson leading the pack, followed by Tom McEvoy, Jim Bechtel, Doyle Brunson, Dan Harrington, Peter Eastgate, Huck Seed, Robert Varkonyi, Berry Johnston and Phil Hellmuth. Last to be eliminated on Day 1 were Joe Hachem, Johnny Chan and Chris Ferguson.