The 2015 World Series of Poker has gotten off to a traditional start with the winner of Event #1, for Casino Employees being won by Brendon Barnette, a poker supervisor at the Pechanga Casino in California.
Barnette pocketed $75,704 for his victory, his first recorded live tournament cash, and his first WSOP bracelet. He is the first of what can be expected to be a sizable number of unknowns who strike lucky in this year’s events.
The series got underway in a more muted manner than last year. Events were introduced by tournament director Jack Effel and immediately followed by the command to “shuffle up and deal.” Last year was more extravagant with starting cannons which exploded $1 bills into the audience.
The other event which began on Day 1 was Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em. As today’s play starts, former WSOP Main Event champion Greg Merson is lying in third place and David “Doc” Sands in fourth.
Event #3: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Event and Event #4: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout both started on Thursday. Doug Polk, fresh from his victory over “Claudico,” the game theory poker program, is lying in second place in the $3k event. Jake Balsiger, who came third in the 2012 Main Event is in tenth, with forty players remaining, and 2001 Main Event Champion Carlos Mortenson is in 15th.
Friday sees the start of the most publicized event of this WSOP, the five day Event #5A: THE COLOSSUS $565 No-Limit Hold’em ($5,000,000 Guaranteed Prize Pool).
The tournament will break all records for the largest ever number of entries.The current record is held by the 2006 WSOP Main Event which attracted 8,773 entrants to produce a total prize pool of $82,512,162. The Colossus has already exceeded 14,000 entrants registered.
During last year’s WSOP, the Monster Stack, Event #55, produced a field of 7,862 making it the largest live event ever held outside the WSOP Main Events. Its record has since been surpassed in what looks like a boom in live tournament poker around the world, but the Colossus will return the record to Las Vegas.
The boss of all bracelet winners, Poker Brat Phil Hellmuth has already begun his campaign to add more bracelets to his trophy case. He has thirteen WSOP bracelets, including one for his Main Event win in 1989 and another 23 years later at the Main Event for the WSOP Europe.
Things have not started out too well, but Phil is nothing if not persistent.