David Einhorn, the hedge-fund manager who agreed in May to buy 33 percent of the New York Mets, survived the first round of the World Series of Poker’s main event.
Einhorn, who finished 18th in the $10,000 buy-in tournament in 2006, has 94,400 chips following his first day of play this year and is among 4,521 entrants left, according to the tournament’s website. The event, officially titled the No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, pays $8.7 million to the winner.
Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for Einhorn, confirmed the tournament entry and declined further comment in a telephone interview. The 42-year-old Einhorn sits down for second-round action today in Las Vegas.
Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital Inc., agreed to buy a stake in the Mets for $200 million from the club owners, who are trying to pay off debt and resolve a $1 billion suit by the trustee representing people who lost money in the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard L. Madoff. The deal between Einhorn and the Mets has yet to be completed.
This year’s World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino brought in a record prize pool of $192 million, which includes the main event, the 58th and final tournament in the series.
A record 75,672 people participated in the World Series. Before the tournament, there were questions over how the turnout would be affected by the April indictments of the founders of Internet gambling companies PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, alleging circumvention of a 2006 U.S. law barring banks from processing payments to offshore gambling websites.
The main-event field of 6,865 players is the third-highest for any live poker tournament, trailing the main events of 2006 (8,773 players) and 2010 (7,319).
Players, split into four Day 1 groups, started the main event with 30,000 in chips. Einhorn’s current total is more than double the 45,555 average stack of chips for the entrants remaining. The leader is Fred Berger of Las Vegas, with 209,000.
The tournament is scheduled to play down to nine by July 19. Those players will compete at the final table on Nov. 7 to crown a champion.
Jonathan Duhamel, who won $8.9 million with his main-event victory last year, has 41,150 in chips after Day 1.
Other top poker pros still playing include Phil Hellmuth (11,800 in chips), Johnny Chan (34,000) and Daniel Negreanu (41,175).
Celebrities still competing include the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce (63,000), and actors Jason Alexander (63,150) and Brad Garrett (59,775). Singer Nelly, actor Ray Romano and actress Jennifer Tilly were eliminated.