The World Poker Tour (WPT) descended upon the familiar environment of the Bellagio's Fontana Lounge for the start of the main event of the Festa al Lago on October 22nd, 2009 but something was different.
For the first time in the event's history, instead of two starting days, the Bellagio is permitting players to register for the tournament up to the beginning of the ninth ninety-minute level on Day 2 and start their run at the Festa al Lago title with the same $60,000 chip starting stack as the Level One starters.
Bellagio Tournament Director Jack McClelland said that they always had taken up buy-ins until the 4th level. He said that a lot of the higher limit poker players would rather begin at a higher level. They felt like they are just wasting their time with fifty/one hundred so they would just come in after two-three levels and play out the end of the 1st day of the tournament.
McClelland said that it was the reason why it was suggested that they just be permitted to buy in the 2nd day of the tournament. They wanted to give the poker players as many choices as possible. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, who became the game of poker's all time leading money winner with this 1st runner-up finish at the WSOPE main event last month, showed up for the 1st level on October 21st, 2009 but said that he has no problem with the concept of late registration.
Negreanu said that some players might have a problem with it and say that participants should not come in late but they are starting with less blinds while still paying the same amount. He said that it is not a big problem as far as he can see. Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier said that it does not make sense for most poker players trying to win the tournament to begin late but he can understand one scenario where it would fit.
Mercier said that a high stakes cash poker player might feel like they are just wasting a whole day at the poker event where they could make a lot of money elsewhere but that is the only scenario where late registration would seem logical. While just one hundred fifty players had registered to start Day 1 of the event, that number increased up to 246 players by the day's final and 5th level.
Well-known poker pros Phil Hellmuth and Andy Bloch are among the players rumored to be starting on Day 2. McClelland said that they always aim to please their poker players when they come to the Bellagio to play in one of their events and the late registration is just one of the ways to show their appreciation to their players.