World Series of Poker champion to be crowned, win $8 million

LAS VEGAS (AP) " Another World Series " one with an $8 million prize at stake " was opening Sunday to the excitement of many in Las Vegas.

The 47th annual World Series of Poker returned to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino with the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event. An elite group of nine competitors who outlasted a field of 6,737 players will gather at the final table starting at 5 p.m.

Among those vying for the first prize and the title bracelet is Kenny Hallaert of Belgium.

The 34-year-old has a seat at the table after being a cheerleader for friends the last two years, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/2e1NACD ). Those friends include Jorryt Van Hoof, who came in third in 2014, and Pierre Neuville, who placed seventh last year. Hallaert has participated in the tournament since 2008 and finished 123rd last year.

"There's a lot of money, of course, but becoming a world champion would mean way more," said Hallaert, a tournament director for poker events in Belgium. "The value of that is something you can't put a number on."

Hallaert has been working with several coaches to see any holes in his game.

He also says he watched numerous hours of footage of the last six main event final tables.

Other competitors include Las Vegas resident Qui Nguyen and chip leader Cliff Josephy of Muttontown, New York. The players with the shortest stacks include Jerry Wong and Fernando Pons.

The main event will also run Monday and go until three players are left sitting for the Tuesday session.

World Series of Poker tournaments began in May, culminating with the annual main event. The nine players who made it through the grueling multiday poker marathon are already guaranteed at least $1 million each.

The tournament is a 45-year tradition that got its start with casino owner Benny Binion as an invitation-only event.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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