The World Series $1k No-Limit Holdem event brought 2,891 players to the Rio, topping this year’s Event #2 as the second largest field in the history of the World Series of Poker. Only last year’s Main Event topped this field of hopefuls - 270 players would cash in this event. To put this number in perspective: ten years ago, Huck Seed won the World Series Main Event, besting a field of 295 players - a distant memory in the age of the mega-field.
Each player started with $1k in chips and blinds at $25/25, so chip accumulation would be a key to wading through this swamp of sharks and fish. One player who would be well rested after this event was 2005 Main Event Champion Joseph Hachem. He sat down, played one hand, stood up, and left the table, busted after one shuffle of the deck. Former champions and top pros were intent on grabbing chips in early levels, so many were destined to fall in their pursuit. Barry Greenstein, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Clonie Gowen, Men “The Master” Nguyen, Mimi Tran, Erick Lindgren, and Phil “Unabomber” Laak were all early casualties.
Within ten minutes, Phil Hellmuth, Robert Varkonyi, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson joined fellow Main Event Champion Hellmuth as alumni out the door. As has been the case throughout this World Series, Juan Carlos Mortensen was the former champion who accumulated chips early and often. He would cool off a bit by the end of Day 1. Actress Shannon Elizabeth busted shortly after midnight for her first World Series cash. The first day ended with 139 players left, with Humberto Brenes and John Phan within eyesight of Canada’s Corey Chaston’s $134k stack as chip leader. Brenes started Day 2 across from Chaston at Table 120. Brenes folded in an early pot while Chaston and Kevin Song called Nhan Lee’s all-in. The flop came 8-8-2, Chaston checked in the small blind, and Song shoved his stack forward. Chaston insta-called and showed both the brutal news: quad eights to Lee’s kings and Song’s aces. Chaston moved up to $230k in chips. Later in the day, down to three tables, the action heated up. Mortensen picked up aces to double through Phan. These two and Brenes would spar through the end of the night. Phan rivals Mortensen in aggression and heart, and he was the force at the tables. Tom Hawkingberry and Mike Pomeroy made big moves around midnight building chips. Pomeroy pushed Kevin O’Donnell off of his flopped nut flush draw, and he stood at $820k. Phan knocked out Lowell Kim (12th, $32,622) and Karen Black (11th, $35,516) by flopping an ace. Juan Carlos Mortensen fought hard with few chips in the evening, and his exit at the hands of Phan ended Day 2 (10th, $38,936). Mike Pomeroy from Detroit will enter the final table with an almost 2:1 chip advantage over John Phan, with Humberto Brenes among those chasing the title. It is set up to be an exciting ending to a great event.