Although the jury is still out on whether or not this year's Internet gaming laws have hurt the game of poker, the 2007 World Series of Poker continues to provide plenty of stories showing that at least for the WSOP, things are still going strong. Despite the Main Event's expected loss of many Internet-registered players, a number of WSOP tournament attendance records have fallen as poker players continue to make the pilgrimage to the Nevada desert for this prestigious series of tournaments.
Events smashing attendance records included the first $1,500 No Limit event and the $1,000 Ladies No Limit event. The powerful one-day combination of Saturday's $1,500 No Limit and $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. tournaments brought the highest overall single-day participation numbers — meaning the number of players entered in events starting that day — in the history of the tournament series.
While the media and Harrah's focus on the player turnout, the rest of the poker world track WSOP results. Featuring numerous star-filled final tables, this year's WSOP is staking a claim at having the toughest tournament fields in the history of the game. With Internet wunderkinds and 'live' players both staking a claim for WSOP supremacy, the action has proven exciting.
Both types of players (live and Internet) have made a lot of noise in the first weeks of the Series. Leading the way for live players at this year's WSOP is 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, who once again broke records when he cashed for his 58th and 59th times in WSOP play. Hellmuth continues his hunt for an 11th bracelet and is making yet another deep run in Event #15. Joining Hellmuth in a quest for bracelet #11 are Doyle Brunson (who sits in second place overnight in the $5,000 Limit event) and Johnny Chan, with 18th-place ($5,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud) and 31st-place ($5,000 World Championship Mixed Hold 'Em) finishes already to his credit. Other noted live players taking home bracelets include Chris Reslock, Allen Cunningham, and Burt Boutin.
Although not having as much success as the live players in the bracelet department, the Internet players are certainly in the hunt for the first-place cashes. Eric 'Rizen' Lynch, Jordan 'Ims0Lucky' Morgan, and 2007 bracelet winner Steve 'MrSmokey1' Billrakis are among the many Internet players making repeated deep runs. The Internet players also appear to be having a fun time off of the tournament floor as several players have been doing really well in the cash games. One reported rumor (as it is almost impossible to know the exact figures in a high-limit cash game) suggested that Brian 'sbrugby' Townsend crushed Sammy Farha and fellow online machines, David Benyamine and Patrick Antonius, in a recent mixed game for close to $2.5 million.
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