The fourth and final starting day of the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is in the books and, as such, both the total number of participants as well as the payouts have been released. A grand total of 6,494 players signed up for the $10,000 buy-in event, making it the third largest Main Event in WSOP history. The 2006 Main Event still holds the record for largest Main Event ever with 8,773 entrants. Last year’s event drew 6,844 players and this year just missed the mark.
Many suggest the tournament could have easily eclipsed last year’s numbers were it not for the fact that the final starting day on Monday sold out. Various media outlets reported that as many as 500 players were turned away from the tournament early Monday morning because there was no space for the players. Several of the players who missed out on participating in the event, including a very vocal “Captain” Tom Franklin, stuck around to voice their disappointment regarding the situation to WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. Pollack met with the players Monday afternoon and expressed regret that they would be unable to participate, but said there was simply no way the Rio and Harrah’s could accommodate the overflow of players.
The lopsided dispersal of the field over the four starting days caused more than just Day 1D registration problems. Fearing that the combined fields from Days 1A and 1B playing on Day 2A would get too close to the money, tournament staff announced that people playing on those starting days would only play four levels instead of the originally scheduled five. Then, in order to accommodate the significantly larger fields of Days 1C and 1D, tournament staff had those two starting days play for five levels. Participants returning on Tuesday for Day 2A will be playing five levels while those playing on Day 2B will only play four so that when the fields combine into one room on Day 3 they will have all played for the same amount of time.
Each starting day had around 2/3rds of the players survive to return for Day 2. The overall chip leader of the four starting days is Troy Weber of Terre Haute, Indiana who finished Day 1D with an astounding 353,000 chips. To put that number in perspective, the player with the second highest number of chips, Joe Cada, ended Day 1C with 186,000 chips. Keep in mind that these chip counts are unfairly skewed towards Days 1C and 1D because they played an extra level, but Weber’s finish is impressive nonetheless considering just how far ahead he is from the rest of the competition.
Day 3 will likely be the day that the money bubble bursts. A total of 648 players will receive a payout in the event with first place earning $8,546,435. The payout structure for all of the WSOP events was flattened slightly for the 2009 events, so even though there are fewer players than last year, all nine players at the final table will walk away millionaires, unlike last year when ninth place finisher Craig Marquis earned $900,670. The Main Event will continue throughout the week until July 15th when a final table will be determined. Those nine finalists, fondly known as the November Nine, will return to the Rio November 7th-10th to play down to a World Champion live on ESPN.

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