World Series of Poker officials promised theatrics this summer at the Rio Convention Center.
They didn’t disappoint Tuesday.
The 45th WSOP got underway at noon with a brief ceremony involving tournament director Jack Effel and WSOP executive director Ty Stewart.
But before Howard Greenbaum, the Regional Vice President of Specialty Gaming at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, gave the traditional “shuffle up and deal” command, hundreds of $1 bills were shot out of air cannons.
Players and spectators scrambled to scoop up the free money that rained down from the ceiling of the Brasilia Room, with some walking away with a wad of bills big enough to pay for lunch.
The WSOP began with the $500 buy-in Casino Employees No-Limit Hold ’em tournament. The three-day $25,000 buy-in Mixed Max No-Limit Hold ’em event, which is one of the largest buy-ins on this year’s bracelet schedule, starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The three-day, $1,500 buy-in Single Re-Entry No-Limit Hold ’em “Millionaire Maker” tournament opens Saturday and features a guaranteed $1 million to the winner.
Last year’s WSOP drew a record 79,471 participants from 107 countries. Tournament officials expect a total prize pool in excess of $200 million for the 65 bracelet events.