The winner of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event will earn more than $8.5 million, tournament officials announced Monday.
This year’s $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em World Championship drew 6,598 entries to the Rio, the fifth-largest starting field in tournament history. The top 666 finishers will collect prize money, with $19,227 guaranteed as the lowest payout.
The total prize pool for the Main Event was more than $62 million.
Last year’s world championship drew 6,865 participants – third-largest in tournament history – with a prize pool of $64.5 million. Pius Heinz of Germany earned $8.7 million for his victory.
On Monday, 3,418 players entered the Main Event, the last of the tournament’s three starting days. Monday’s field was larger than Saturday and Sunday’s combined 3,180 players, and was a single-day record for the Main Event.
Tournament officials acknowledged speculation within the poker community that participation in the Main Event would dip significantly because of the ongoing global economic slowdown.
“We can’t thank the players enough for their continued support of the WSOP and for once again putting a bad beat on market conditions,” World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart said.
The largest Main Event was in 2006 when the field topped 8,773 players. Hollywood producer Jamie Gold won $12 million that year.
The 61 events at the 2012 World Series of Poker drew 74,766 entries and created the largest prize pool in tournament history at more than $222 million. Last year’s tournament drew a record 75,672 entries and a prize pool of $192 million, which had been record. The prize pool surpassed last year’s total by 15.6 percent. It was also the eighth consecutive year the World Series of Poker generated a total prize pool in excess of $100 million.
The $42.6 million prize pool generated by the “Big One for One Drop” $1 million buy-in event also helped this year’s tournament.
In the 43-year history of the World Series of Poker, the tournament has awarded more than $1.6 billion in prize money.
The Main Event, considered poker’s top individual title, will play out over the next week.
The survivors from three days of starting flights return to the Rio today and Wednesday. On Thursday, the players who haven’t been eliminated will be merged into one grouping.
By July 16, the field will be sliced and the final table of nine players will be determined. Those players will return to the Rio at the end of October to play for a multimillion-dollar payday and the most expensive gold bracelet ever awarded to a Main Event winner
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871.
Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.