Top prize at World Series of Poker will be about $8.25 million

LAS VEGAS -- Top prize at the 2007 World Series of Poker
will be $8.25 million based on the 6,358 players who have entered
the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event over the tournament's four
starting days, organizers said Monday.

Organizers revised the payoff up from the previously announced
$8.23 million and said about $59.8 million will be paid out of the
tournament's pot to players who finish in the money.

The totals are short of last year's record 8,773 participants
and $12 million top prize. But it comes nine months after President
Bush signed a law cracking down on Internet gambling, which is
blamed for shrinking the number of entrants who would have
qualified in online tournaments.

The field is still massive, and several pros, including 2004
champion Greg Raymer, Phil Hellmuth, Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson and Phil Ivey, have been bounced already. Of the 4,569 players who participated in
the $10,000 buy-in tournament's first three days, 1,698 remain.

For the poker-playing world, the main event at the World Series
is the year's pinnacle event, where the cards can be cruel and only
the skilled, and the lucky, survive.

"It hurts of course," said Brunson, shortly after busting out
on the first day of play Friday, when his two pair of aces and
queens was beaten by three queens. "It's the prestige of these
tournaments, particularly this one, that everybody's concerned
with. Everyone's trying to win bracelets a lot more than money."

The field also is filled with amateur players who took vacations
to play against the game's biggest stars for a shot at overcoming
staggering odds to win a staggering pot.

"When you play with this many people, you can't realistically
think about winning," said Dave Fox of Coram, N.Y. "It's better
odds than a lottery. Skill is involved but there still is a
tremendous amount of luck."

Officially, 1,789 players began play at noon for the fourth
starting day of the tournament Monday.

Survivors from the four opening days will play in two rounds
Tuesday and Wednesday before the marathon march to the final table
gets under way.

Nine players will sit down at the final table on July 17 to
determine a winner.

Shortly after starting Monday, a daily announcement drew a
chuckle from the crowd. The recipient of the day's first royal
flush, the best hand in poker and a 649,739-to-1 occurrence, would
get a free massage.

"When I heard the offer, I was like, 'Yeah right,'" said Fred
Hwang, a 42-year-old anesthesiologist from Keller, Texas.

Then he hit it, holding a jack and 10 of diamonds with a flop of
ace, king, and queen of diamonds. Hwang actually found action on
the hand, as an unfortunate opponent had a lower flush.

"If I win the tournament, I'll buy you dinner," Hwang told his