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WSOP launches first event

LAS VEGAS – For serious poker players, it’s like Christmas and the Olympics combined.

The World Series of Poker opened in Las Vegas on Monday with its first gold bracelet event. More than 2,000 players entered the $1,500 buy-in, three-day tournament at the Rio hotel and casino off the Las Vegas Strip.

The World Series of Poker draws tens of thousands of poker fans to Las Vegas each year to compete for millions in prize money and 61 championship bracelets.

This week’s event stretches from noon to 2 a.m. Poker champions Phil Ivey, Allen Cunningham and Daniel Negreanu are in the field.

For their $1,500 buy-in, players get chips worth $5,000 in game money. They can’t cash out. The point is to not go bust and stay in as long as possible to make it to the final rounds on Wednesday, when the champion will win the first of the many bedazzled bracelets given out during the series and several hundred thousand dollars. Participants can only make money if they make it into the final 10 percent of players.

Monday, the tables were filled with dozens of young men, a few older men and some women. Some listened to music on headphones and a few drank alcohol, their focus mostly on the cards.

“They are making it hard for the older players.” Palansky said.

Pius Heinz, 22, of Germany won the $8.72 million top prize last year out of 75,000 participants.

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