WSOP TODAY: May 27; Casino employees take centre stage

Highlights from day 1 of the 2012 WSOP (May 27)

The 43rd annual World Series of Poker is officially underway. The first gold bracelet event (of 61) was the $500 buy-in “Casino Employees’ Championship”, which in recent years has become the traditional schedule opener.

Performing the official “Shuffle Up and Deal” honours alongside WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel was long-time poker dealer Richard Turnbull (pictured left, with thanks to, from Reno, Nevada. He is an 85-year-old veteran of World War II where he served proudly in the U.S. Navy

Turnbull started dealing poker 37 years ago and has since worked at the Fremont, Las Vegas Hilton, MGM, and Sahara. Effel jokingly introduced the Turnbull saying he’d “dealt more bad beats than Mike Tyson".

The Casino Employees’ Championship started with 732 players. After the first day, only 46 players remain. The end-of-day chip leader is Chip Saechao, from Visalia, California (with 150,600 in chips). The Event #1 prizepool totals USD $329,400. The top 81 finishers will be paid. First prize receives USD $70,859.

Cash games are also booming. There are now 82 poker tables dedicated to cash games inside the Pavilion, plus an additional 14 poker tables dedicated to cash games inside the Rio (Main Casino). The most popular game spread is $1-3 No Limit Hold’em.

• It’s Memorial Day in the US today and today’s play will be pre-empted by the playing of the National Anthem. Tournament action is highlighted by Event #2, the first $1500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, which is scheduled for three days. Event #1, the $500 buy-in Casino Employees’ Championship will continue until the champion is decided.

The first WSOP final table video stream is expected to begin sometime tonight. All final tables of gold bracelet events will be streamed at on a five-minute delay. Action can be seen exclusively at Coverage begins once the final table of nine players is set, which should be early this afternoon Australian time.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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