Party Poker‘s Mike Sexton will be in it.  So will UltimateBet’s Annie Duke and Full Tilt Poker’s Mike “The Mouth” Matusow.  They, along with 24 other players, will compete in the 2010 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions (TOC), which will take place during the 41st World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas this summer.
The TOC is a special, non-bracelet freeroll event designed feature the best players in the world all battling it out for a share of a $1 million prize pool.  The top prize is $500,000.  The TOC started in 2004 but ran only three years, having not been played since 2006.  In this incarnation, poker fans will have the opportunity to select the tournament field.  Voting is currently in progress at  Fans can vote for up to 20 players to be included in the event and when the voting closes on June 15th, the top 20 vote getters will receive a seat the TOC tables.  The catch: only players who have won a WSOP bracelet are eligible.  That means popular players such as Party Poker‘s Antanas “Tony G” Guoga and Full Tilt’s Tom “durrrr” Dwan will not appear on the ballot.
To vote, simply visit, and enter your name and e-mail address to receive a validation code.  Once this code is received and entered on the site, you can vote for your favorite bracelet winners.  Only one ballot is allowed per e-mail address in an effort to curb ballot stuffing.
In addition to the top 20 vote-getters, the previous three winners of the Tournament of Champions will automatically receive seats.  This means that long time Party Poker spokesman, Mike Sexton, has already qualified, as he won the 2005 TOC; Annie Duke is in for winning the first one in 2004; and Mike Matusow has made it as a result of his 2006 victory.  The reigning WSOP and WSOP Europe champions receive automatic bids, as well, so Joe Cada and Barry Shulman are in.  That still leaves two spots in the tournament, which will be awarded through sponsor exemptions.  There have been no details as to what these sponsor exemptions will be, but one could expect them to come from online qualifiers.  
The past TOC’s have all been memorable.  While just a 10-person freeroll at the time, Annie Duke’s victory in 2004 still resonates because of the drama at the end.  The final three players remaining were Duke, her brother Howard Lederer, and 11-time bracelet winner, Phil Hellmuth.  Duke was almost driven to tears as she knocked her big brother out in third place thanks to a suckout.  She followed that up by successfully tilting Hellmuth, forcing him into one of his classic tantrums, on her way to victory.
Mike Sexton’s win was not as dramatic, but he quickly became a player and fan favorite as he advanced through the tournament.  The 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee has been one of the most respected and beloved players in the world for years, so most were very happy to see him do well.  Plus, he faced the young Daniel Negreanu heads-up, which made for compelling poker.
Mike Matusow had been the sort of self-anointed hard luck kid for years until he won the 2006 TOC.  Having come close to winning the Main Event on more than one occasion and having battled a drug problem, Matusow was extremely emotional when he won.
Online voting for the 2010 opened on Monday, and within 24 hours, over 40,000 had already been cast.  As of Friday morning, the list of the top 50 vote getters looks like this (names in random order): 
Alexandre Gomes
Freddy Deeb
David Benyamine
Jason Mercier
Phil Hellmuth
Amarillo Slim Preston
Tom McEvoy
Johnny Chan
Dario Minieri
Daniel Alaei
Daniel Schreiber
Humberto Brenes
J.C. Tran
David Sklansky
Doyle Brunson
Layne Flack
Ted Forrest
Phil Ivey
Peter Eastgate
Barry Greenstein
Philip Galfond
Erik Seidel
Joe Hachem
Howard Lederer
Hoyt Corkins
Men Nguyen
Greg Raymer
Kenny Tran
Vitaly Lunkin
Erick Lindgren
Antonio Esfandiari
Daniel Negreanu
Jamie Gold
Eli Elezra
John Juanda
Annette Obrestad
Sam Farha
Dan Harrington
Jennifer Harman
Alexander Kravchenko
Jeffrey Lisandro
Allen Cunningham
Chris Ferguson
T.J. Cloutier
Carlos Mortensen
Huck Seed
Prahlad Friedman
Chris Moneymaker
David Williams
Scotty Nguyen
Remember that there are 521 players on the ballot, so if you don’t see someone on the above list who you think is deserving, head over to to vote for your favorites.

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