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Seminole Hard Rock WPT series starts (with photo gallery)

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, a series of 62 tournaments, starts Thursday with a $1 million guarantee event.

But bigger news is the tournament's main event, which carries a $5 million total prize money guarantee for only a $3,500 buy-in. That's believed to be the lowest buy-in ever in America for a $5 million event.

It's also the fourth time the World Poker Tour's TV production crew will come to town to tape the tournament for TV. That event has Day 1As at noon Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 10-12. The final table taping is at 3 p.m. April 16.

When the WPT first came to town in 2011, the buy-in was $10,000. Then it dropped to $5,000 and now to $3,500, although rebuys are allowed -- building up the prize pool. (The poker room had originally advertised the tournament as a $10M guarantee, and listed the buy-in at $5,300, before dropping the guarantee and the buy-in in late 2013.)

Pairing with the WPT helps the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Director of Poker Marketing Ray Stefanelli notes.

"They enhance our brand by showing our facilities to millions of people," he said. "They show that we have everything you want, all under one roof."

Event No. 1 has six flights for entrants, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Hollywood casino. Buy-in is $560, and players who are knocked out can re-enter.

The tournament also has a daily leader bonus: The chip leader after each of the six flights gets $1,000.

"How many times have you seen a player be a chip leader then not cash?" Stefanelli said. "This way they at least get more than they paid to enter."

And a tournament for women, run in conjunction with the High Heels Poker Tour, is set for noon Saturday, costing $250. Go to

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