WSOP TODAY: June 30; Big One underway, latest NLHE fields top 3000 players

Highlights from day 35 of the 2012 WSOP (June 30)

It’s one of the most anticipated days in WSOP history with the historic $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament kicking off. The field of 48 players (pictured above) was confirmed yesterday with the addition of Caesars Mega Satellite winner Gus Hansen and MGM Resorts International VIP winner Phil Hellmuth.

From each million-dollar entry fee, exactly $111,111 will be donated to ONE DROP with a goal of raising enough money for a legacy project that will help poor nations gain access to clean water.

The total prize pool amounts to $42,666,672. Nine players will be paid and the champion will receive an astounding $18,346,673 – a figure that smashes the previous record held by Jamie Gold who won $12 million at the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event.

The event will be rake-free, allowing $888,889 of each entry fee going directly into the prize pool. Players will start with 3,000,000 in tournament chips. A specially designed WSOP platinum bracelet, created by renowned watchmaker Richard Mille, will be awarded to the victor. However, this is very much a "gold bracelet event," in the sense that all results become part of the WSOP’s official statistics.

• Panayote "Peter" Vilandos, a 72-year-old Greek-born retiree now living in Houston won the $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which was completed on what turned out to be an unscheduled fourth day of play. Indeed, the field was so big that three players returned from an impromptu finale, which lasted an additional four hours past the third day.

Vilandos defeated a tough line-up of 1001 players, including many of the world’s best No-Limit Hold’em players. He was well compensated though, pocketing $952,694 in prize money while earning his third career WSOP gold bracelet.

Vilandos has been playing in WSOP events for 20 years. He previously won gold bracelets in 1995 (Pot Limit Omaha), and 2009 (No Limit Hold’em). This was his 21st WSOP cash with his combined lifetime earnings at the WSOP now totalling more than $2.5 million. The runner up was Kyle Julius, a 25-year-old poker pro from Naperville, IL. He accepted a nice consolation prize of $589,687.

• The 2012 WSOP Ladies champion will be decided today with nine players returning to contest the final table. Debbie Pechac leads the field from Candida Ross-Powers, with the winner assured a payout of $170,587.

Event #52, the $2500 buy-in Six-Handed 10-Game Mixed tournament, is also down to the final day with 19 of the 421 starters still in the game. Vanessa Selbst is the current chip leader with Chris Bjorin, Vincent van der Fluit, Scott Clements, James Mackey and Bryn Kenney also in contention.

A staggering field of 3166 signed up for Event #53, a $1500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, with 348 returning for day two. Germany’s Mario Nagel leads the field while Australia’s Haibo Chu cracked the top-20 on day one. Another field of more than 3000 players is expected for today’s $1000 No Limit Hold’em event, which event #54 on the schedule.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla, WSOP.com

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