Posted 6/2/11 :

No shortage of players so far
 
Sweeping aside the doom and gloom associated with the Black Friday federal actions against the online poker sector in the United States, the 42nd edition of the World Series of Poker kicked off at the Rio in Las Vegas with good player turnouts Tuesday.
 
Reports indicate that thousands of players are now in the gambling city for poker's most prestigious championship, which started the $500 buy-in Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em event.  A total of 850 players registered for the creating a prize pool of $382,500 – a rise in registrations of 129 over last year, although still short of the pre-UIGEA entry for this event, when 1,232 employees competed.
 
The top 81 survivors will cash in the event, with the winner taking home a bracelet and over $82 000 in cash.
 
Also commencing Tuesday evening was the $25,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship, a new high-value development on the WSOP schedule which just managed to attract 128 entries by delaying the action to pull in more competitors.  It's a bad comparison, but last year's $10 000 buy-in version of the event attracted 256 registrants.
 
Nevertheless, the high buy-in generated a record Heads Up event prize pool of $3.04 million, from which the ultimate winner will receive $851,192, with the second placed player taking home $525,980, and cashes for the last 16 players standing.
 
Early reports indicate that there was no shortage of high profile poker names at the venue, including Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda, Erik Seidel, Tom Dwan, Carlos Mortenson, Erick Lindgren, Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Alaei and Patrik Antonius…and despite the US poker online poker crisis many of them were still wearing sponsorship patches.
 
Notable clashes included Vanessa Selbst vs. Chris Moorman; Gus Hansen vs. Jason Mercier, and Phil Laak vs. Jonathan Duhamel.
 
However, a number of poker celebrities were reportedly conspicuous by their absence – Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch were not seen, whilst Phil Ivey had earlier issued a statement boycotting this year's WSOP due to disagreements with Full Tilt Poker over the Black Friday shutdowns.
 
And surprisingly Phil Hellmuth did not enter for the high stakes event, preferring to play in the $1 500 buy-in third event featuring Omaha Hi-Lo.
 
When the first day's action wound up in the early hours of Wednesday morning 32 players remained in contention, and tournament officials anticipate a winner being declared on Friday.
 
Event 3, a $1,500 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo pulled in 925 entries, making it the largest yet Omaha Hi-Lo tournament, rivaled only by the 2010 equivalent which recorded 818 competitors.
 
With a prize pool of $1.2 million, the ultimate winner should hit a payday worth around $262 000, but the competition will be intense, with top players like Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Jeffrey Lisandro, Max Pescatori, Phil Hellmuth and Jason Mercier all in the hunt for a bracelet and the money.
 
Observers are predicting that the first of the $1 000 buy-in events should provide a useful indicator on how this year's edition of WSOP is doing.