Since the debut of the World Series of Poker Europe in 2007, the main event always attracted one of the toughest fields on the tournament schedule. With a couple hundred players in contention in the 10,000 pound buy-in event from 2007 to 2010, the past editions of the WSOPE main event, which peaked at 362 players in both 2007 and 2008, offered a statement that it truly favored quality over quantity. Champions Annette Obrestad, John Juanda, Barry Shulman and James Bord offered the poker world a winner who beat a field more similar in size to the 2000 WSOP main event than the 2010 WSOP main event and it appeared that the industry was content with that sort of association with the WSOPE.
As successful as the events had been in the past, the WSOP wasn't content and had always been looking to grow the property to its potential. In 2011, the event has found its stride. At its new home in Cannes, France, the WSOP Europe set records in every event, and the main event added another chapter to their success story, as attendance was up 71 percent year-over-year. A field of 593 players paid 10,400 euros to create a 5.6 million euro prize pool and a top prize of 1.4 million euros (approximately $1.9 million), far exceeding Bord's prize of $1.2 million in 2010. The runner-up will also become a millionaire.
"Not many tournaments can ever claim to jump up 71 percent in attendance from one year to the next," said the WSOP in a release. "But as is typical, the World Series of Poker stands as the exception to just about everything."
After two starting days, 328 players returned to action at the Hotel Majestic Barriere. Among the Day 1 survivors were a pair of November Niners, Ben Lamb and Sam Holden, but Lamb's hopes of a double final table fell apart quickly and he was eliminated early on Day 2. Holden was among the chip leaders for a short period of time on Day 2, but also fell to a below average stack a few levels in.
According to WSOP.com, with approximately 200 players left, Rifa Palevic holds the chip lead by 105 big blinds over his closest opponent, Constant Rijkenberg. WSOPE Event 6 runner-up Shawn Buchanan, Carlos Mortensen, Tony Guoga, Shannon Shorr, Patrik Antonius and Chris Moorman all held above-average stacks after two levels of the day. Some early Day 2 casualties included Scotty Nguyen, Sami Kelopuro, David Sands, Nenad Medic, Men Nguyen, Filippo Candio and Randy Dorfman.
The final 64 players will make the money, most likely on Tuesday, and earn at least 20,000 euros.
The final table of the main event will be broadcast on ESPN3.com Thursday, starting at 8 a.m. ET. For those wanting to watch the action leading up to the final table, the WSOP offers streaming "fly on the wall" coverage of the feature table.
Small blinds: The WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Hammond attracted 3,001 players in the first event of its 12-day stop near Chicago. The $350 tournament paid out 297 players with champion Aaron Bieck winning $124,438. David Daneshgar finished 16th. ... Raiden Kan won the Macau Poker Cup Championship, outlasting a record-setting field of 308 players to win $160,000. ... Chris Moneymaker signed an endorsement deal with the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pa. He will visit the casino at least once every other month and hold seminars in addition to playing in their poker room. ... Julian Menendez won $64,710 with his victory at LAPT Colombia. The event, held in Medellin, was the largest LAPT main event in history at 681 players.