Event #2 of the 2008 World Series of Poker will go down as boasting the fourth largest tournament field ever, trailing only the 2005, 2006, and 2007 Main Events. It was the largest non-Main Event tournament in the history of the WSOP, an enormous record already shattered just a few days into the 2008 World Series. With only two events completed (out of 55 total) in Las Vegas, the WSOP is already bigger and better than ever. Storming through a field of 3,929 players, Grant Hinkle emerged victorious in Event #2. With the win came a payday of $831,279, a nice return on a $1,500 buy-in. The Kansas City, Missouri native is 27 years-old and edged out British native James Akenhead heads up. Full Tilt Poker front man Chris “Jesus” Ferguson finished in third place.

A press release distributed by Harrah’s after the event noted that the previous high attendance for a non-Main Event tournament was 3,151, which was the number in the field of Event #47 in last year’s World Series of Poker. That’s a jump of about 25%, which is substantial and speaks volumes about the popularity of poker worldwide. In fact, the top six finishers represented three different countries (the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada). Day Three of the four day tournament lasted 16 hours and was played down to the final 18. The same Harrah’s press release describes the final hand of the tournament: “Holding a 2 to 1 chip lead, Hinkle was dealt 10-4 of diamonds. He tried to push his opponent out of the pot with an all-in pre-flop re-raise. At first glance, it was a case of very bad timing by the chip leader. Akenhead called and showed A-K. When 10-10-4 flopped, Hinkle’s cheering section went bonkers. Another ten on the turn gave Hinkle the biggest pot of the night and his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet.” What a fitting end to one of the largest tournaments in WSOP history.

Ferguson, who finished in third, was down to less than one big blind at one point during Day Two, but proved that, in poker, all you need is a chip and a chair (or so the saying goes). Ferguson is a five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and won just under $400,000 for his finish in Event #2. The payday was his second largest at the Las Vegas WSOP event (he’s cashed for larger amounts in WSOP Circuit Events), trailing just his Main Event win in the 2000 World Series of $1.5 million. He’s been around the block and was the most experienced tournament player at the final table, having recorded his first WSOP cash in 1995. Event #2 marked his 27th final table.

Other notable cashes in Event #2 included online poker ace Stuart Patterson (65th), Mark Vos (146th), Gavin Griffin (251st), Todd Brunson (292nd), David Singer (353rd), and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Champ Ryan Daut (362nd). The top 378 players made the money. Jeremy Roenick of the San Jose Sharks and Earl Barron of the Miami Heat also entered. Past WSOP tournaments have featured Tobey Maguire (Spiderman), Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), Lennox Lewis (heavyweight fighter), and Shannon Elizabeth (actress).

Events 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are currently underway from the Amazon Room in the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event begins on July 3rd.

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