Commentary

Special $40,000 tournament added

Updated: July 6, 2009, 12:34 AM ET
By Andrew Feldman | ESPN.com

The game plan hasn't changed: bigger and better. Harrah's announced that the 2009 World Series of Poker will feature a record-setting 57 events and will run from May 26 to July 15. The revamped schedule will feature many new events and include something for every poker player aspiring to accomplish the dream of winning a WSOP bracelet.

The landmark WSOP comes on the heels of a record year in 2008, when the WSOP generated the most entries ever (58,720) from the most countries ever (124). They also competed for the largest prize pool ever ($180,774,427), which included 55 championship gold bracelets, globally recognized as the sport's top prize.

Most notably new in 2009 will be a $40,000 no-limit hold 'em event honoring the 40th anniversary of the WSOP. There will also be 10 $10,000 buy-in "World Championship" events, up from eight in 2008, and 39 events with buy-ins for less than $2,500. Due to the tough economic times, a "Stimulus Special" tournament will be held on the opening weekend for only a $1,000 buy-in. According to a release by Harrah's, "[The event] is anticipated to draw the largest-ever live tournament field outside the Main Event and offer a prize pool approaching $5,000,000."

Going in the opposite direction and to the surprise of many, the WSOP removed the five rebuy events on the 2008 schedule and four $5,000 events in exchange for more prestigious $10,000 events and an additional two events under $2,500.

"Whether you play poker around the kitchen table or consider yourself a professional, you will find a comfortable seat at the 2009 World Series of Poker," said WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "This year's schedule offers more variety than ever before and we look forward to welcoming players from around the world to the Rio for our 40th annual extravaganza this summer."

After the success seen in 2008, one major item will remain the same: the November Nine format. The final nine players remaining in the main event will once again go on a four-month hiatus before coming back to play out the action Nov. 7-10. After an amazing turnout to see Peter Eastgate win the 2008 championship, this year's finale will take place in front of a live audience and will receive special prime-time coverage on ESPN. The main event will feature four starting days, and it will take eight days of play to reach the final table.

Poker players will also continue their charity work in 2009. The third annual $5,000 "Ante Up For Africa" event will take place on July 2 (to be broadcast on August 11 from 8-10 p.m.) and the ladies-only tournament (which strives to raise awareness for the Nevada Cancer Institute) will be played on June 7.

Finally, a special "WSOP Champions Cup Invitational" will be broadcast on August 4 from 8 to 10 p.m.

Below is the complete schedule for the 2009 WSOP. Televised events will be broadcast on ESPN starting July 28.

Andrew Feldman is ESPN.com's Poker Editor. He is the host of the Poker Edge Podcast and co-host of ESPN Inside Deal. Andrew has covered the poker industry for ESPN since 2004.

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