When it comes to made-for-TV poker tournaments, nobody is more prolific than the gang at Full Tilt Poker.  And next week, the cameras will be rolling as the FullTiltPoker.com Poker Million IX gets underway the Sky Sports Studios in the UK.
As is the case with most of these online poker room-sponsored televised events, Poker Million is an invitation-only competition.  It will feature 48 players, most of whom will be recognizable pros, battling it out across six heats to get to the final table, which is where the money is won.
The first three eight-handed heats will run from July 26th through July 28th, with the winner of each advancing to the final.  The first heat will feature Full Tilt pros Howard “The Professor” Lederer, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Ross Boatman, and Greg Mueller, as well as Stuart “TrickyRock” Rutter.  Neil Channing, and Full Tilt pros Patrik Antonius, Gavin Smith, and Barny Boatman are confirmed for the second heat, while Full Tilters Erik Seidel, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Roberto Romanello, and Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad, PartyPoker’s Tony G, and Tony Bloom will take on each other in the third heat.
One player in each heat will not be a pro, but rather an online qualifier from FullTiltPoker.com.  Starting chip stacks have also been increased this year to triple the standard stack, allowing for more skillful poker play.
The second group of three heats will begin on October 12th.  The participants in those heats have yet to be announced.
As noted earlier, the winner of each of the six preliminary heats will advance to the final table, to be held December.  That leaves two open seats that need to be filled.  The first will be occupied by one of the preliminary competitors who did not win his or her heat.  In a sort of “second chance” tourney, the runners-up from each of the six heats will meet in a Sit-and-Go in October after the second round of preliminary heats, with the winner moving on to the final table.  The last seat in the final will actually go to a Full Tilt online qualifier.  While it will no doubt be the thrill of a lifetime for that qualifier, accomplishing anything at the final table will be even more difficult than it normally would when facing seven professional poker players.  That is because the seven pros will start with 300,000 chips, while the qualifier will start with only 150,000.
Matchroom Sport managing director Eddie Hearn is excited about the adjusted format, saying in a news release on Matchroom Sport’s website, “The change in format for this year’s FullTiltPoker.com Million IX is great news for poker. You only have to read the forums and the poker media to understand what the viewers want to see and that is the World’s best players battling it out in a format that promotes skill and allows them to showcase every facet of their talent.”
With the $125,000 that Full Tilt is adding to the prize pool, a total of $1,565,000 will be awarded to the top finishers.
Last year, 2009 November Nine member James Akenhead won the FullTiltPoker.com Million VIII, earning $500,000.

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