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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP Journal

WSOP Main Event Day 2A

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All eyes were on the top pros as Day 2A started for the 1,637 players left from the first two days of the richest poker tournament in history. They finished before the clock struck midnight, a welcome gift for those lucky enough to survive for play on Friday. Names like Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Layne Flack, John Juanda, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Scotty Nguyen, Richard Brodie, and Barry Greenstein were involved today with mixed results. Juanda went out early, as did Greenstein. The author of Ace on the River caught a horrible beat to cripple him, his kings being caught by queens on the turn. He plugged away at his Blackberry for the last few hands afterwards. He handled it with grace, but it was an unjustified result for a player who would have been a threat. Mortensen and Nguyen were both down to the felt, but both made a strong run to keep pace with the field. Everyone kept tabs on Ivey, but he fought for survival into the night.

No, this day showed what poker has become: a competition that has moved from the small field of professionals through an interim phase of players who played internet poker and were viewed as luckboxes and unskilled, now to today's poker world. The Main Event is simply filled with a much larger field of excellent players. Progress accelerated through the advancement of online poker and the plethora of available tournaments both online and live. One of these players was Jason Strasser, an engineering student at Duke. This 21 year old cashed at three events of this, the first World Series he was eligible for. He made one final table in the last event prior to the Main Event, and he built his stack from $44,300 up to over $350,000. I had the opportunity to watch one hand that Strasser played, and he described the betting pattern to me as he stacked his chips. The board read 4-9-Q-3-4, and here is how he recalled the betting: "He bet $4.5k preflop, and I called. He led out with 6k on the flop, and I called. He bet $13k on the turn, and I called. On the river, he bet $30k." Strasser thought for close to a minute, then called with J-9 for middle pair and a weak kicker. He showed after his opponent flipped over A-6 for ace-high. A monster pot by one of many monster players in the field.

Day 2 showed that no longer are there a few dozen pros capable of winning poker's most prestigious event, no there are now literally hundreds of great players. For every Scotty Nguyen there was a Matt Maroon or Jon Lane. For every Chris Ferguson there was an Aaron Clark or Paul Wisicka. And the room was filled with great stories of players living their dream, like Kelly Contreras. Contreras had her third boy one month ago and left the boys with her husband Richard. She's a full-time nursing student and mother, so it's been an odd time for her to sit quietly for twelve hours, peacefully passing the hours while she built her stack from $26,875 to around $85,000. When asked for her chip count, she turned her head and quietly said, "I don't know, and I don't want to know." She said the same thing when I asked her on Day 1. Her brother was with her for the first day, but he flew back today. "If I make it to Friday, the whole family will be flying down from Washington." Contreras will be busy coordinating travel plans tomorrow, as she'll be playing with a great chance to cash in the richest poker tournament in the world.

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