It is that time of year every poker player and poker fan looks forward to: The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event is finally here. Friday marks the start of the biggest live tournament of the year and, according to the PartyPoker blog, over 100 PartyPoker qualifiers will be participating in the event. In addition to the online qualifiers, the members of the newly reinvigorated Party Poker Pro Team will be on hand to take their own shot at the title of World Champion of Poker. Joining long time PartyPoker spokesperson Mike Sexton on the pro roster is British pro Ian Frazer, Felipe Ramos of Brazil and Remy Biechel of France.
The first of the four starting days of the Main Event begins Friday. Each day participants will play five two hour-long levels before calling it a night. Once the four starting days are over, the survivors of Days 1A and 1B will return for Day 2A and the survivors of Days 1C and 1D will play on Day 2B. After the pair of Day 2s is completed, all of the players still in the event get one day off before returning on Day 3, where the entire field will gather in the Amazon Room for the first time. From that point, the field will continue to play five levels every day until Day 7 when they will play down to the final 27 players. Those fortunate few will return on Day 8 to determine the November Nine, who will have almost four months off before returning to the Rio from November 7-10 to play down to a winner live on ESPN.
Last year the Main Event drew 6,844 runners. This number was up from the 6,358 runners in 2007, but failed to match the record 8,773 runners that turned out in 2006. It is difficult to gauge just how many people will turn out for the event this year, but tournament staff and those in the poker world are expecting a number at or above last year’s attendance. A number of sites have been running online qualifiers for over a month including PartyPoker, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet and Cake Poker. There have also been super satellites as well as single table satellites running round the clock in the Rio. With several of the preliminary events selling out at capacity and over 6,000 players showing up to play in the $1,000 buy-in Stimulus Special No Limit Hold’em event, WSOP staff’s hopes remain high about the turnout.
For those who do play in the event and are fans of dried meat, you may very well be in luck. Official WSOP sponsor Jack Link’s Beef Jerky is offering $100 worth of their product to any player that makes quad jacks during the tournament. In their first year of sponsorship, the snack company has already made their presence known during preliminary events, where jerky was provided for anyone fortunate enough to make one of the final tables broadcast online.
Obviously the jerky is not the main attraction at the event, but it is an example of one of the many additional treats the WSOP has in store for those making the trek to Vegas this weekend. While the Main Event is running, the Rio Convention Center will also play host to PokerPalooza, a large convention featuring a number of vendors, online sites, and poker-related businesses showing off their latest and greatest technology and merchandise. WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack gave a sneak preview of the event via his Twitter account, disclosing that, “Elvis, a mechanical bull, a double-decker bus, a Richard Petty stock car + the biggest pick-up truck I’ve ever seen”, will all be present at the affair. PokerPalooza will run from July 2nd-5th while the Main Event will go from July 3rd – 15th before picking back up again in November.

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