LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas poker dealers and casino employees are getting a chance to play in a prelude to the 43rd annual World Series of Poker.

Tournament officials say a $500 casino employees event begins at noon Sunday at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. It’ll be followed at noon Monday by the start of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

Tournament play continues to July 16, then pauses, before a final nine competitors meet in November.

Organizers say thousands of poker enthusiasts from 100 countries are expected to compete in the 61-event schedule. They’re after millions of dollars in prize money and World Series of Poker champion bracelets.

Pius Heinz, a 22-year-old from Germany, won the no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event last year. He took home about $8.7 million.


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