The World Series of Poker Begins

A preview of the 2016 World Series of Poker, where a majority of the 69 gold bracelet events will pay more players than ever before.

Colossus II Event No. 2 is Biggest Live Poker Tournament in the World

The 47th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) kicked off this week at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Event No. 1 is the Casino Employees No Limit Hold 'em Tournament and was won by a race and sports ticket writer at Caesars Palace. He bested a field of 731 players to win $75,157.

The prize pools and entry fees only go up from there culminating with the $10,000 No Limit Hold 'em Championship starting July 8 with the final table of nine returning in November. The starting stack for this year's main event will increase from 30,000 chips to 50,000 chips with the blind structure starting at 75/150 and antes beginning at level 3. Each of the final table participants will become millionaires. The 2015 World Series of Poker champion was Joe McKeehen, a 24-year old poker pro from Philadelphia, PA who took home the top prize of $7,683,346.

World Series of Poker June 2nd is the start of the biggest live poker tournament in the world, with this year's Colossus II No Limit Hold 'em Tournament expected to break last year's record of over 22,374 entries. The $565-buyin for the Colossus is a 5-day event with six Day 1 flights starting at 10:00 am PT and 4:00 pm on June 2, 3 and 4. This year, a $7 million guarantee is attached to the tournament with a $1 million guarantee first place prize. Players start with 5,000 chips and Day 1 play is scheduled for 18 30-minute levels. I'll be competing in this year's Colossus event and taking a shot at the big payday after just missing the money in last year's event.

However, this year's Colossus and a majority of the 69 gold bracelet events will pay more players than ever before. Starting this year, the WSOP will pay out 15 percent of the field instead of 10 percent of the participants.

Each flight for the Colossus II Event can handle approximately 4,500 players for the early flight and 4,200 for the late flight.

To handle the payout congestion from last year's Colossus event, the WSOP announced:

"Each of the six starting flights of Colossus II will reach the money and begin processing payouts immediately within the flight versus a traditional hard bubble on Day 2 of a consolidated field. This will cut any congestion in payouts process significantly and also allow players who cash in a flight or surrendering their stack at the end of the flight, a chance to re-enter another flight and perhaps cash again within the same event."

There are also seven specialty events that will be carried over to the 2016 schedule:

1. $1,000 Online tournament via WSOP NV
2. $565    Colossus II
3. $1,500 Millionaire Maker
4. $1,500 Monster Stack
5. $50,000 Poker Players' Championship
6. $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha
7. $111,111 High Roller for One Drop

A few of the changes and improvements for this year's World Series of Poker include:

 - Payouts: 15 percent of the players will make the money in a majority of the events, up from 10 percent.
 - Structures will allow for most tournaments to now play into the money by the end of the first day.
 - Playing hours: Most tournaments will now start at 11:00am PT, with three of the six starting flights of the Colossus Event No. 2 starting at 10:00am.
 - Genesis Gaming and Bravo Poker Live app provide a new electronic registration system. There are also 20 additional kiosks onsite to handle printing only for ticket entries.
 - New payout procedure will allow players to be notified by text message to minimize waiting time to get paid.
 - New playing cards are provided by Copag.

ESPN provides TV coverage and live events are streamed on, where you can get tournament updates. Follow on Twitter: @WSOP.

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industries most insightful analysts. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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