Las Vegas Sun

December 10, 2023

Massive field expected for first $1,000 event at World Series of Poker

Second day of the World Series will feature first of six $1,000 tournaments

While more than 100 players participated in the World Series of Poker’s most expensive event Friday at the Rio, a much larger contingent gathered at the registration window to enter the series’ cheapest tournament.

Thousands have registered for Event No. 3, $1,000 no-limit hold’em, which starts at noon today at the Rio.

“I think it’s a great deal with the recession and everything,” said James Lamatrice, a casual player from Las Vegas who will play in the tournament.

Players like Lamatrice who love the cheaper buy-in tournaments at the World Series can thank the economic downturn for the opportunity. The World Series held its first $1,000 no-limit hold’em tournament last year and dubbed it the "Stimulus Special."

The response exceeded anything organizers imagined. The tournament, which featured two starting days, reached its maximum number of players at 6,012. It was the largest non-Main Event field in World Series history, despite many players being turned away when the tournament reached its capacity.

Lamatrice was one of the unlucky latecomers.

“Last year, I played in some $1,500 and $2,500 events but missed the $1,000 because it was capped out,” he said.

Because of the success of the tournament, however, organizers wanted to make sure players like Lamatrice wouldn't be denied in 2010.

That’s why they included an unprecedented six $1,000 no-limit hold’em tournaments on this year’s schedule. It’s an attempt to give poker players from any level a chance to win a coveted gold bracelet.

Hopefuls like Dmitrijs Kohanovskis, an amateur from Latvia, have flooded Las Vegas to play.

“I think it’s good experience for me,” Kohanovskis said. “Of course, I’m going to try and improve.”

The field won't be fully composed of recreational players, though. Professionals will surely jump at the chance to get in Event No. 3, as it’s an early way to get on the board and boost bankroll at the start of the summer-long World Series.

Kia Hamadani, a semi-professional from Los Angeles, might fall into the latter category.

“I’m neutral on the cheaper tournaments,” Hamadani said. “It makes it easier for the less experienced players with less money to play, so that’s always fun. I’m all for getting as many people as possible.”

Hamadani earned a good chunk of ESPN airtime at last year’s Main Event when he finished as the “bubble boy” in 649th place, one spot out of the money. As a consolation for his misfortune, a sponsor will pay Hamadani’s $10,000 entry fee into this year’s Main Event.

Other players will use the $1,000 tournaments like Event No. 3 with hopes of earning enough to buy into the Main Event.

It’s all made the first $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament a can’t-miss-event.

“If there’s one event you want to play in at the World Series and you’re low on funds, come play in the first $1,000 event,” Tournament Director Jack Effel said.

Poker Player’s Championship numbers up, but not by much

Some players made side bets that this year’s $50,000 buy-in Poker Player’s Championship would have more than 200 entries.

They were way off. When registration ended after two levels of play Friday night, 116 players were in the field for the mixed games event.

Sixteen spots will be paid with the winner earning $1.55 million. It’s an increase from last year, when 95 players entered and winner David Bach took home $1.2 million.

Five players were eliminated after seven hours of play Saturday night, including notable pros Tom Dwan and Greg Mueller.

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