22 players commit to $1M buy-in tourney

LAS VEGAS -- World Series of Poker officials said Monday that 22 players have committed to putting up $1 million each to buy into the most expensive card tournament ever -- enough to make it an official bracelet tournament that counts toward series earnings and title records.

WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky told The Associated Press on Monday that seven more players would make the tournament's top prize the richest ever, beyond the $12 million Jamie Gold won for beating out 8,772 opponents in the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in 2006.

At 22 players, the top prize is $8.89 million, $173,000 more than German player Pius Heinz won for winning the main event last month. If the tournament's top prize passes the amount generated at the 2006 main event, its winner likely will shoot instantly to the top of the series' all-time money list.

Poker icon Doyle Brunson topped 21 opponents in 1976 to win the main event for $220,000, and tournament officials later adopted the tournament's field size as the minimum future events would need to be counted in records.

The $1 million buy-in includes an 11 percent charity donation but doesn't include the typical 10 percent rake series officials keep in fees for hosting the tournament. The charity, Montreal-based non-governmental organization One Drop, is led by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, who is organizing the tournament.

Committed entrants include a who's who of names famous in poker and in the gambling industry. Poker professionals who have said they will enter include Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Johnny Chan and Jonathan Duhamel.

MGM Resorts International executive Bobby Baldwin, a four-time gold bracelet winner who won the main event in 1978, and billionaire Treasure Island casino owner Phil Ruffin also have said they'll play.