The world’s richest sporting event keeps getting richer – and so do its champions.

The winner of this year’s World Series of Poker World Championship event, which began on May 22, will walk out of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino on May 28 with an estimated $4.5 million in cash. But the top finisher of the No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event won’t be the only millionaire that day: based on this year’s record participation, the first four finishers will each win $1 million or more. The top 180 finishers will receive prize money in excess of $10,000.

The mammoth payouts will come from a total prize pool of more than $41 million, a new poker tournament world record. Last year’s World Series of Poker tournament prize money was just under $22 million, and 2003 World Champion Chris Moneymaker won a top prize of $2.5 million.

And while this year’s prize money is unprecedented, so is the number of people vying for the huge stacks of cash that have made the World Series of Poker the most prestigious event of its kind.

Poker players from all over the globe have plunked down the $10,000 it takes to compete in the world’s most prestigious poker tournament. Hundreds more have won a place in the event through a variety of qualifying tournaments called satellites.

In all, 2,000 players are expected to go for the tournament’s top prize, and a total of 10,462 have already played in this year’s first 32 World Series of Poker events. Both numbers represent record participation for a live poker tournament.

“The response has been astounding,” said Howard Greenbaum, a World Series of Poker tournament executive. “All of the top players from around the globe are here, and more rising stars are arriving every day. There’s no question the 35th Annual World Series of Poker will be the greatest poker event ever organized.”

The World Championship Event which began on May 22 at 1 p.m. and will continue daily through May 28, when the winner of the coveted World Series of Poker gold bracelet is expected to be decided around midnight.

The World Series of Poker was hosted for the first time in 2004 by Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., which purchased the rights to the tournament earlier this year.


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