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Organizers have released the schedule for the 40th annual World Series of Poker (WSOP), which will start on Wednesday, May 27 with the first of 57 gold bracelet events, followed the next day with a special $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament to commemorate the WSOP’s 40th anniversary.  The famed Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will once again will serve as the center of the poker universe this summer, using the same blueprint as last year.

The 40th annual WSOP will conclude with the $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold‘em Main Event which begins play Friday, July 3, 2009 and reaches its final table (nine players) on July 15, 2009, at which time play will be halted.  Final table play will be held from November 7-10, 2009.  The 4-month break, which was initiated last year to allow ESPN to televise the tournament without viewers knowing the winner, boosted ratings for the same day broadcast of the final table by 50 per cent last year, according to officials.

Among the highlights of the 2009 schedule:

· 57 gold bracelet events over 50 days.
· A “stimulus special” $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament on the opening weekend, May 30-31, 2009, which is anticipated to draw the largest-ever live tournament field outside the Main Event and offer a prize pool approaching $5,000,000.
· 10 “World Championship” $10,000 buy-in events (“World Championship” refers to tournaments with a buy-in of $10,000 in each of the various disciplines of poker).
· The third annual $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament, with an enhanced gold bracelet and the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy awarded to the winner.
· A one-time commemorative gold bracelet event, a $40,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament to help mark the 40th annual WSOP on Thursday, May 28, 2009.
· Seven open $1500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournaments, the most popular events in poker.
· The 3rd annual Ante Up For Africa $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em celebrity and charity tournament on Thursday, July 2, 2009, (the day before the Main Event begins) featuring the opportunity for anyone age 21 or older to enter and be seated at the same table as A-list celebrities and top poker pros.
· The Ladies Only No-Limit Hold’em World Championship on Sunday, June 7, 2009, featuring a $1,000 buy-in and helping to raise awareness for the Nevada Cancer Institute, the official community relations partner of the World Series of Poker.
· The Seniors Only No-Limit Hold’em World Championship on Monday, June 22, 2009 for all poker enthusiasts 50 years of age or older.
· The return of the “November Nine” where the nine finalists of the Main Event (July 3-15) return to the Rio on November 7-10, 2009 to vie for the multi-million dollar prize and the title of 2009 World Champion of Poker in front of a live audience with special prime time coverage on ESPN.

“Whether you play poker around the kitchen table or consider yourself a professional, you will find a comfortable seat at the 2009 World Series of Poker,” said Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “This year’s schedule offers more variety than ever before and we look forward to welcoming players from around the world to the Rio for our 40th annual extravaganza this summer.”

Gold  bracelet tournaments will begin at 12 noon or 5 PM Pacific Time each day, with a maximum of 10-one hour levels being played for the noon starts, while the 5 PM events will play a maximum of 8 one-hour levels.  For those fortunate enough to advance past the first day, re-starts for noon bracelet events will begin at 2 PM, and 5 PM tournaments will restart at 3 PM with a maximum of 10 levels being played each day until a champion is crowned.

Pre-registration for the 2009 WSOP will begin in late February on-site at the Main Cage of the Rio in Las Vegas and online through www.worldseriesofpoker.com.