LAS VEGAS — Canadian poker professional Jonathan Duhamel has begun his title defense at the World Series of Poker, some eight months after winning the 2010 main event title for $8.94 million.

The 23-year-old Boucherville, Quebec-native drew throngs of fans Saturday as he walked into the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, joining a crowd of players in the tournament’s third of four starting days.

Series officials say they expect more than 2,000 players to enter the no-limit Texas Hold ’em tournament on each of its last two starting days, pushing total entries above 6,000.

Duhamel beat 7,318 opponents last year to win his gold championship bracelet.

Duhamel started the day at a feature table, under spotlights in a made-for-TV arena within the main tournament room.

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