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Already the richest sporting event ever, the World Series of Poker total prize pool looks set to reach $100 million predict organisers.

This more than doubles the record the event set just a year ago.

“With each new event we host, we’re breaking another record,” said Gary Thompson, director of operations and communications, World Series of Poker (WSOP). “We have brought in 450 of the world’s best poker dealers to accommodate the enormous crowds flooding in from around the globe looking for both tournament and live-game action. Those players are contributing to a prize pool that will dwarf such events as the Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby and the Masters.”

The new record prize pool is a result of the unprecedented number of players paying entry fees to the tournaments. Whereas in 2003, the WSOP brought in 7,572 players with a total prize pool of nearly $22 million, which doubled for the 2004 event, the 2005 event not yet half way through has already exceeded $23.5 million. Through only the first 19 events of the 45 at this year’s event, the 36th annual WSOP has already registered over 13,500 players. With many of the most popular events still to be played, organisers believe that by the time the main event starts on July 7th, the total prize money will reach $100 million.

The phenomenal growth of the WSOP has forced the event to move for the first time from its home turf in downtown Las Vagas to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Taking up 60,000square-feet of gaming area, the tournament area is equipped with 200 poker tables to meet the number of players. The last two days of the 36th annual World Series of Poker will however be played at Binion’s, its host for the past 35 years.

‘I’ve been playing tournament poker for a long time, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Robert Williamon III, Pot-Limit Omaha gold bracelet winner, and player in the last year five year’s WSOP final tables. “I’ve always been bullish on poker – it’s the greatest game I’ve ever played – but there’s no way I would have guessed we’d hit $100 million this year. No way.”


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