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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Series field whittled

Poker tourney closes in on magical 666

By Oskar Garcia Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – A flurry of eliminations at the World Series of Poker on Thursday brought players tantalizingly close to the prize money – pay dirt for investing $10,000 to buy into the main event.

After two hours of play, 262 players had been eliminated from the remaining field of 1,308. After four hours, 852 players were still at the tables. By the dinner break, there were 733 players left, 67 eliminations away from the money.

But play was expected to slow to a painful crawl as tables began playing hand for hand, meaning each table would play only one hand, then wait until all others finished their hands before dealing another.

The process ensures that tournament officials can pinpoint the person to bust out in 667th place – one spot away from winning at least $21,230 in the no-limit Texas Hold ’em tournament.

The final 666 players represent the top 9.7 percent of a field of 6,844, all gunning for a chance at the title and $9.12 million top prize that will be awarded when play concludes in November.

“Usually the tournament comes to a screeching halt,” said tournament director Jack Effel, who said hand-for-hand play would begin with 675 players. If two players finished tied for 666th and 667th, they would split the $21,230 prize for the last player to win money.

The 667th-place finisher, while eliminated from the tournament with no winnings, would receive a free buy-in to next year’s main event.

“The money doesn’t mean much to the top pros – making the money. That’s when we try to raise every pot,” said 11-time winner Phil Hellmuth.