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With eight events left to go, however, including next week's start of the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em World Championship Main Event, the current World Series of Poker is on track to shatter several all-time records.
The success has come despite concerns of a drop in participation following the federal government's crackdown on Internet poker in April, which left many American players with their bankroll stranded on overseas gambling websites.
Apparently, the tournament's impending doom was vastly overrated.
"It's hard to discount how almost every event has grown in participation," World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart said.
Through Thursday, with 50 of the 58 planned events on the books, the tournament inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino's Convention Pavilion has drawn 57,781 entries, 6.6 percent higher than at the same time a year ago.
The prize pool in the World Series of Poker cracked the $100 million mark Thursday, which puts the tournament on a money pace that is 6.7 percent higher than the 2010 tournament.
"It is one thing to plan and prepare to accommodate such a large number of people on a daily basis," World Series of Poker tournament director Jack Effel said in a statement, "But it is truly an amazing feeling to see it all unfold in front of your eyes like we have witnessed at the World Series of Poker in 2011."
Last year's World Series of Poker awarded $187.1 million and had a record 72,966 entries, including 7,319 players for the Main Event.
With the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship and the Main Event still to be played, the tournament is on a record pace.
Stewart said the timing of the Poker Players Championship, which begins Saturday and concludes Wednesday, could increase the number of entries from a year ago, when it was held early in the tournament.
Last year's Poker Players Championship, which requires participants to rotate play in eight variations of poker, drew 116 players and was won by Michael Mizrachi, who earned almost $5.6 million.
"We've seen an increase in participation in mixed-game events, so we think this will help attract participants," Stewart said.
The 2011 tournament has already shattered several event records, including the largest-ever $1,000 buy-in event, the largest-ever $1,500 buy-in event and the largest consecutive days of a starting field with a combined 6,332 entries.
"We are humbled once again by the incredible turnout from players all over the world," Stewart said.
The Rio is also offering 150 satellite tournaments daily throughout the World Series of Poker, which allows players to enter a lower-buy-in event and win the entry fee for a larger event. World Series of Poker officials said satellite play is up 18 percent over last year.
The Rio expanded its cash game poker room into the World Series of Poker arena. Hotel officials said the nonbracelet events, including cash games, single-table-satellites, mega-satellites and daily deep-stack tournaments, are up 45 percent from last year.
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