World Series of Poker Maintains Hiatus

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Organizers of the World Series of Poker plan to
keep a four-month break intact for their no-limit Texas Hold 'em
main event starting in July, and are adding a one-time $40,000
buy-in tournament at the start of the series to commemorate its
40th anniversary.

The break, which began last year, delayed the final table of the
world's richest poker tournament to allow ESPN television
broadcasts to air without viewers knowing the winner. The
tournament field whittled from 6,844 players to nine in July, and
the remaining players didn't meet again until November, when Peter
Eastgate became the event youngest winner and won $9.15 million.

Tournament and cable network officials said ratings went up 50
percent for last year's final table, which aired the same day play

Dennis Phillips, a trucking account manager from Cottage Hills,
Ill., who won $4.5 million for finishing third in the main event
last year, said that while he thought the break was a good thing,
he thought 117 days was an extremely long time.

"I was hoping they could cut it down," Phillips told The
Associated Press on Sunday. "I think it would help - it just
seemed like it went on forever. I was ready for the final table
probably 60 days after the break."

Phil Hellmuth, an 11-time gold bracelet winner at the series,
said most players think the main event's break is good for the
game, allowing for more buildup to a winner and creating a bigger
spectacle when the final nine players finally square off.

The World Series of Poker, starting May 27 at the Rio All-Suite
Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will have 57 gold bracelet events, up
from 55 last year. The main event starts July 3 and a winner will
be crowned Nov. 10.

The special $40,000 no-limit Hold 'em tournament is the first
series tournament to be held after a $500 tournament for casino
employees only.

Hellmuth said Sunday that the high price tag of the event - only
a $50,000 rotating-game H.O.R.S.E. tournament costs more to enter -
could make players feel like it rivals the main event in terms of

"Given my druthers, I'd like to see that be a $25,000 buy in,
but for the 40th anniversary, 40 seems OK," Hellmuth said.

Last year, the main event and H.O.R.S.E. events were considered
the most coveted tournaments. Higher buy-in prices mean fewer
players will be able to enter, making it more likely that
recognizable pros like Hellmuth and others will make up the final
table. Poker professional Scotty Nguyen, who won the main event in
1998, took home nearly $2 million for winning the H.O.R.S.E.
tournament last year.

The series is also offering what it calls a "stimulus
special," a $1,000 buy-in event during the first weekend that it
hopes will attract a record crowd for a non-main event tournament.

Gone from the series are five re-buy events, in which players
were allowed to buy themselves back into the tournament after they
got knocked out.

"I think that's a mistake," Hellmuth said.

Hellmuth said he likes re-buy tournaments not because he likes
to spend money to stay in a tournament, but because opponents
assume they will have to and therefore don't play as well as they

He said that players like himself and Johnny Chan, a two-time
world champion in 1987 and 1988, need only one buy-in to do well in
re-buy tournaments.

"I don't think you can buy a bracelet," he said.
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(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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