There is still two months of voting left for the 2010 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions (TOC), but perhaps as an incentive for fans to mark off their ballots, Harrah’s has released the list of the top 20 current vote getters.  If the voting ended today, this would be the field for the TOC, plus the automatic qualifiers and sponsor exemptions (players listed alphabetically):
Doyle Brunson
Johnny Chan

T.J. Cloutier
Allen Cunningham
Antonio Esfandiari
Sam Farha
Chris Ferguson
Barry Greenstein
Joe Hachem
Jennifer Harman
Dan Harrington
Phil Hellmuth
Phil Ivey
John Juanda
Howard Lederer
Daniel Negreanu
Scotty Nguyen
Greg Raymer
Huck Seed
Erik Seidel
As you can see, the leaders after one month of voting are the typical “who’s who” of poker, the people we have been watching on television for several years now.  Noticeably absent are any of the “young guns” of today’s internet poker generation.  Not a single player in his twenties is amongst the top 20.  The youngest player, Antonio Esfandiari, will be 31-years old when the TOC gets underway.
The WSOP Tournament of Champions began in 2004 with just 10 players hand picked by WSOP organizers to compete in a winner-take-all $2 million Sit-and-Go.  Besides being the inaugural TOC, the tournament will be remembered for the emotions that winner Duke showed when she eliminated her brother, Howard Lederer, in third place, as well as the ranting and raving of runner-up Phil Hellmuth.  Mike “The Mouth” Matusow emerged triumphant over an expanded field in 2005, while Party Poker’s Mike Sexton won in 2006, donating half of his post-tax winnings to charity.
After Mike Sexton’s victory in 2006, Harrah’s put the TOC on hold, but fortunately revived it for 2010.  In a new twist, fans will choose 20 of the 27 players in the field via online balloting at  Three of the remaining spots will be automatically awarded to the three previous TOC winners, Duke, Matusow, and Sexton, while two more will go to the reigning WSOP Main Event champion, Joe Cada, and the reigning WSOP Europe champion, Barry Shulman.  The final two seats are reserved for sponsor exemptions.
Not everyone is eligible to play in the Tournament of Champions, however.  Only 521 living WSOP bracelet holders appear on the ballot.  That means some popular players, such as Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Phil “The Unabomber” Laak will not have the opportunity to participate.
The 27 players will commence play at three tables at the Rio in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 27th, a schedule off-day in between bracelet events (the Tournament Champions is not an official bracelet event).  When the field is whittled down to nine players, the tournament will be paused.  Those nine players will reconvene for the final table on Sunday, July 4th, the day before the $10,000 Main Event is to begin.  The first place finisher will receive $500,000, second place gets $250,000, third place will win $100,000, and the rest of the final table participants will all cash-in for $25,000.

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