Over 1000 players have descended on the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas to enter into the $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship….

Over 1000 players have descended on the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas to enter into the $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship. Beating all expectations, the turnout has made it one of the top 20 largest poker tournaments ever held—and registration is still yet to close.

The official target was to attract a total of 640 entries—enough to set the record for the largest $25,000 buy-in tournament in history. While it was far from assured, with PokerStars giving away at least 320 Platinum Passes missing the mark would have been a disappointment for the operator.

But it seemed no one—including PokerStars executives, the team on the ground in the Bahamas, and the media at the event— expected it to exceed 1000 players.

At the “shuffle up and deal” on Sunday afternoon, 728 had already taken their seats. PokerStars had made history and easily surpassed its own target. But few anticipated what would happen next—with hundreds more buying in late to join the action.

And at the closing bell for Day 1, entries had swelled to a staggering 1014 total players. Because all buy-ins are rake free, and because PokerStars is adding $1 million to first place prize, this makes for a prize pool in excess of $26 million.

And entry hasn’t yet closed. Players can still buy-in Monday morning until action starts at midday. So the prize pool may well grow even larger.

But what we already know how is that the PSPC has been a resounding success for PokerStars. It smashes through the previous record for a $25k tournament.

In fact, even if you remove the 320 Platinum Passes given away—which contribute $8 million to the prize pool—you are still left with 694 direct buy-in and satellite winners, which alone would make the largest ever $25,000 buy-in poker tournament.

It is currently ranked 17th for largest ever poker tournament. At least six millionaires will be made by the end of the tournament. The first place prize will be at least $5 million.

Over 70 nationalities are represented in the player pool, which includes one of the most eclectic fields of players ever seen: From big name pros to PokerStars ambassadors, journalists, hundreds and of lucky hopefuls who won their entry through the Platinum Pass system.

It is by far the largest single live tournament PokerStars has ever hosted, and it will certainly be largest first place prize it has ever paid out.

Only one real question remains: Can it be the largest ever poker tournament outside the World Series of Poker? That distinction is currently held by the 2016 Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza, with a $27.4 million prize pool.

To exceed that level, the PSPC needs to attract 1058 total entries, so a further 44 players need to buy in by the time the cards are in the air today to capture this distinction. So right now that’s looking like a near miss, but given the surprise late turnout yesterday, anything seems possible.

PokerStars.TV is streaming live coverage throughout the series: checkout pokerfuse’s guide on how to watch all the action unfold.

For those who want to taste some of the action but could not make it to the Bahamas, there is an online “MiniPSPC” companion tournament. Just like the live PSPC tournament, this is a five-day event with 24 hour late registration, so if you’re quick there is still time to join.

The MiniPSPC is one-thousandth the size, meaning the buy-ins is a wallet-friendly $25, yet there’s $9000 added to the prize pool. To register, search in the lobby for 'Mini PSPC’ or Tournament #2498943835.

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The PSPC runs through to January 10 and runs alongside the annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), with the major events starting on January 10 and running through to January 16.