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This is the event most of the poker world has been waiting for. The 2015 World Series of Poker kicked off on Wednesday at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The series had a less than stellar first day as both opening events experienced significant drops in attendance.

The Noon tournament, $565 Casino Employees Event, saw over a 20% drop in attendance. The evening event, $5,000 NL Hold’em, was a star-studded field but also saw a drop of almost 40% from last year.

Employee’s Event Attendance Drops by 21% – Gilbert Leads After Day 1

As is the tradition every year at the World Series of Poker, the first event to kick off this year’s series was the $565 Casino Employee’s Event. Members of the casino industry are the only one eligible to play in this event and for some players, especially those working the WSOP; this may be their only shot at a bracelet this summer.

Defending champion Roland Reparejo was in the field looking to repeat. Unfortunately, he failed to make the dinner break which means that we will have a new champion. Chad Holloway, the 2013 champion, was also in the field but also busted earlier on Day 1 and went back to selling copies of World Series of Zombies:

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Other notables failing to make Day 2 included WSOP’s Head of Online Poker Bill Rini and WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Day 1 was the number of players in attendance. This year’s Employee’s Event drew a crowd of 688 runners, down almost 22% from a year ago. The field produced a prize pool of $344,000 with 72 players receiving a payday. First place will receive $75,704 and the bracelet.

Action on Day 1 was fast paced and resulted in the money bubble being burst near the end of Level 15. Michael Kahn carried the event into the money after his 6h-5c outran the As-Qc of his opponent. The remaining players will receive at least $970.

Play was halted at the End of Level 15 with 51 players remaining. Stephen Gilbert finished the day as chip leader with 236,000. Blake Roberts is right behind him with 233,000. The remaining players will return on Thursday and play will continue until the first bracelet of 2015 is awarded.

$5,000 NL Attendance Drops Almost 40%

The first open-field event kicked off on Wednesday evening with the $5,000 NL Hold’em Event. As expected, a who’s-who of the poker world took to the felt in hopes making Day 2 and ultimately the final table.

A few of the big names on hand in Day 1 action were Dan Smith, Christian Harder, Maria Ho, Jake Cody, Eddy Sabat, Erik Seidel, Jason Somerville as well as former WSOP Main Event champs Phil Hellmuth, Jonathan Duhamel, Greg Merson and Ryan Riess.

Like the Employee’s Event, this tournament also saw a significant drop in attendance. This year’s $5,000 NL only produced 422 runners, down almost 40% off the field of 696 in 2014. However, it should be noted that last year’s $5,000 NL was closer to the Main Event (Event #49) and that likely was a factor in the significant drop in attendance.

This year’s $5,000 NL will pay 45 players, each receiving a minimum of $9,381. First will take home $466,120 and the first open-field bracelet of the series.

Darryl Ronconi finished Day 1 as the chip leader with 211,100. Ludovic Geilich is right behind with 194,000. Other big names going into Day 2 of this event healthy in chips include John Gale, Dan Smith, Antonio Esfandiari and Jonathan Jaffe.

Play will resume in this event at 2 p.m. and will continue through the money bubble. This is a four-day event, so there’s a lot of poker to be played before we reach the final table.

Omaha Hi-Lo and NL Shootout Highlight Thursday’s Action

Two new events will kick off on Thursday. The Noon event is the $1,500 Omaha HI-Lo, the first non-Hold’em bracelet event of 2015. Last year, 1.036 players took part in this event with Nick Kost ultimately taking down the title for his first career bracelet and $283,275.

The 4 p.m. event is the $3,000 NL Hold’em Shootout. Last year’s event drew 389 runners with Kory Kilpatrick taking down the title and $254,891.

All Eyes on First WSOP Online Bracelet

Despite the slow start, there is still just as much buzz as ever around the 2015 World Series of Poker. An incredible $5,000,000 guaranteed (that’s six zero’s) will be awarded in the $565 buy-in “Colossus” event. Also, the $1,000,000 guaranteed for first “Millionaire Maker” is still to come.

But all eyes are on the 2015 WSOP.com Event #64 online bracelet. This event will be the first time the most coveted prize in poker can be won from the comfort of your own home. Industry analysts are also looking at it as an indicator of the popularity of growth of regulated online poker in the United States.

Click the Banner Below to Make History in the First WSOP.com Online Bracelet Event

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Although Day 1 was a little slow, the expectation is still that the 2015 WSOP will be just as exciting and memorable as all those that have come before.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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