Entertainment

River Rock to host poker’s World Cup

No word on whether Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will participate in a World Series of Poker event at River Rock next month. Luongo was at the local casino last fall for the Roberto Luongo Charity Poker Classic. - Matthew Hoekstra file photo
No word on whether Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will participate in a World Series of Poker event at River Rock next month. Luongo was at the local casino last fall for the Roberto Luongo Charity Poker Classic.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra file photo

Imagine if Richmond were to host an NBA basketball playoff series, or a round of the NFL football playoffs, or a best-of-seven Major League Baseball round.

For poker aficionados, that’s pretty much the equivalent with news Thursday that a World Series of Poker Circuit Event will be making its Canadian debut at River Rock Casino Resort starting late next month.

At stake: a prize pool of $2.5 million and perhaps as much as $3 million.

“It’s sort of like bringing the green jacket of Augusta,” said Great Canadian Gaming Corporation vice president Howard Blank, referring to The Masters golf tournament and the coveted green jacket awarded to its annual champion. “It’s a great coup for us and all involved.”

Blank said the prize money should draw some top stars from the world of poker, as well as a number of very well known amateur players from across the northwest, including Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Luring the event to Richmond has been a year-long process, he said.

This is the ninth season of the World Series of Poker Circuit Events and next month’s event will be the first time it’s been held in Canada. The World Series of Poker is a series of poker tournaments held in Las Vegas. The circuit is a series of poker tournaments held at various casinos across the U.S. and now Canada, with the winners qualifying for the circuit national championships and a World Series of Poker bracelet.

Entry certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.

Buy-ins for the River Rock event range from $365 to $1,675. Participants will compete in more than a dozen events for a shot at more than $2.5 million in total prize money.

Depending on registration, that prize purse could reach $3 million, Blank said.

Ten live events will be held at River Rock from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7, as well as two online events onplaynow.com on Nov. 17 and 25.

The winner of the local event will also compete for $1 million and a gold bracelet at the main event of the national championships in New Orleans in 2013. The winner must be at least 21 years old to play in the New Orleans event.

The World Series of Poker has a rich history dating back to 1970, with events having paid more than $1.4 billion in total prize money.

Registration for the River Rock events opened Thursday, with details available at  riverrock.com/wsopc.

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