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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2007

Mega Satellite and Main Event Mania

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Thursday was the last day before the World Series of Poker main event, and players were taking advantage of the mega satellites offered by Harrah's to try to punch their tickets.

Thursday was mega satellite day at the Rio, and players had four chances to win their seats into the big one. The $550 buy in mega satellites were offered at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (moved from its original starting time of 4 p.m.), while $1,060 mega satellites were offered at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The satellites can be frustrating experiences for those who bust out rather close to the money. A man from Oregon who only gave his name as Ted was irked after busting out of the 1 p.m. mega with about 100 players to go. About half of those received seats into the main event.

"I'd like to win with ace-king one g---d--- time," he said. "I went all in and got called by pocket tens. Of course I lost the race."

Ted then went off to play a single-table satellite to try to win an entry into a mega on Friday. Tournament directors announced Thursday that they would be running at least one mega satellite each day for the next three days after players bust out of the main event and tables are available.

Main event entries will be taken up to the start of the recently added fourth day of the main event on Monday. That morning could be a crazy one as Harrah's is planning a turbo mega satellite at 8 a.m. that morning for last minute qualifying. Players will start with $3,000 in chips, with blinds that start at $25-$50 and double every 15 minutes. At least this isn't as big a crapshoot as some of the legendary last-minute satellites when the WSOP was held at Binion's Horseshoe. The tales of the one-hand satellites are legendary.

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack was asked how the registration numbers were looking at the annual pre-main event press conference on Thursday. He dodged around the question a bit and said he hadn't asked about the numbers in the last 24 hours.

"We are not living or dying by the turnout of the main event," he said. "We are focused on making sure that everyone has a good experience."

Last year, a video display near the entrance to the WSOP area showed how many people had bought into the main event, and people could see each day how much the numbers had grown. This year such a screen is non-existent. Perhaps Harrah's executives know those numbers are going to be lower this year and don't want to emphasize that fact.

Pollack did say during the press conference that it wasn't feasible to think the main event numbers would continue to grow as they have, from 839 in 2003 to 8,773 last year. With the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last year and Harrah's position that it will not accept main event entries from online poker sites still doing business with U.S. customers, most critics believe the turnout will be much lower this year.

Pollack said a reasonable floor for entrants to this year's main event might be the turnout for the final $1,500 no-limit hold'em event, which drew 3,151.

If the line stretching out of the tournament registration area was any indication, the numbers could be much higher. The line reached just past the WSOP entrance sign for much of Thursday.

Among the prospective WSOP champions in that line was first timer Ken Norman from Conway, Ark. He had waited in line for about an hour Thursday afternoon and probably had another hour wait yet to come. Although he hasn't played the main event before, he has played several WSOP circuit events in Tunica, Miss.

"I just felt like my game was to the peak point and I wanted to give it a try," Norman said.

Another main event rookie was Brian Tracy from St. Louis, who won his seat on PokerStars. With the new regulations in place, players have the option of just cashing out the $10,000 or coming to Vegas to use the money to buy themselves into the main event, as well as get a free hotel room and gear from the online site from which they won the seat.

"I've been trying to win the trip for two years," Tracy said. "I figured I might as well do it. I thought about keeping the money, trust me."

If there are many others with Tracy's philosophy, the turnout may be much higher than people expect.

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