Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Poker players are always late — even to their game’s world championship.
Their proclivity for procrastination resulted in the final of three starting flights in the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event going down as the largest single-day field in the tournament’s history on Monday at the Rio. Day 1C of the Main Event attracted 4,240 players who paid the $10,000 entry fee for a shot at poker’s world championship gold bracelet.
That brought the three-day total to 6,737 players, the highest number of Main Event runners since 2011 and the fourth-most of all-time. The eventual winner will earn an $8 million prize.
A record 1,011 gamblers will receive a payout. It’s the second straight year the WSOP has paid out 15 percent of the field instead of the long-held standard of 10 percent, a change implemented after players indicated they wanted a better chance to place in the money.
But none of them are dreaming of registering a minimum cash of $15,000. They all have their sights set on advancing to the final table that will reconvene at the Penn & Teller Theater on Sunday, Oct. 30.
The final nine players will emerge next Monday after a week’s worth of play. The tournament is expected to enter the money early during Friday’s Day 4 of action.
This year’s Main Event drew participants from 80 countries. An American has ultimately prevailed in three of the last four Main Events, including Philadelphia’s Joe McKeehen, who pocketed $7.6 million last year.
McKeehen had his 2015 championship banner unveiled Monday at the Rio as he gave the honorary, “shuffle up and deal,” command to commence play. He had more than doubled his 50,000 starting chip stack late in the day.
No former champion has ever advanced to the final table since the delayed format went into place in 2008. Only one player has reached the final table twice in that span — Mark Newhouse, who infamously finished ninth in both the 2013 and 2014 Main Events.
The vast majority of the best players in the world swarmed the Rio for the 68th of 69th events at this summer’s World Series of Poker, creating a total prize pool of $63,327,800.