It was a massive crowd Saturday for Event #3, the $1.5k NLH event. The record field of 2,998 players turned the Rio into the worst of Carnival with the mass of humanity packed in the halls outside the Amazon Room. Play ended with the bubble bursting after 2:00AM and Alex Jacob the chip leader among 270 players who cashed in this event.
Long lines, confusion, and lack of communication again led to a real mess on many fronts. The start was delayed until 1:00PM as Harrah's executives quickly realized the field would be a record number of entrants for a non-Main Event field.
As staff tried to figure out how to handle all the alternates, players were met with the now infamous Poker Peek cards. Sean Sheikhan came to Mike Matusow's table, and they confiscated cards to play heads-up Chinese Poker, much to the delight of the throng around their table. Jeff Madsen, drafted as a photographer, snapped away on his borrowed camera.
Five players were eliminated on the first hand when play began. Pocket aces knocked out AK on a king high flop for one player, but I may have been unwittingly involved in one of the other bustouts. After Shannon Elizabeth sat down, I asked her if she knew about the card problems. "That was fixed yesterday, right?" she asked. We looked at the 6-9 problem, and I went away for thirty minutes. On the first hand, she looked down at the 6-9 hole cards she had been dealt. 9-6 came on the flop, and she eventually shoved on the river when another player made a straight with Q-8. She is playing in the PLH event, and I have purposely avoided any contact with her.
This was also the first play in the new auxiliary tent. It held sixty tables, and it was a significant battle to keep the room cooled down. It was hot, very hot at times. There was no discretion as to who played where, and those starting in the heat included Joe Sebok, Daniel Negreanu, Bill Chen, Douglas Matthews, Max Pescatori, and Brandon Schaefer.
Jamie Gold made a quick exit from the field, losing a hand slightly reminiscent of last year's ME Final Table. His jacks were knocked down by pocket kings, and the 2006 ME Champion was on the rail. The field was stellar and the list of early exits included Phil Ivey , Men "The Master" Nguyen, David Benyamine, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Mimi Tran, Freddy Deeb, Amir Vahidi, Melissa Hayden, and Dutch Boyd.
While Gold didn't fare very well, two other ME champions made it into the money. 2003 ME Champion Chris Moneymaker had a topsy-turvy day capped by his laydown of pocket kings to two all-in's in front of him. The pocket fives of one player held up over the of the other all-in. Moneymaker ended the day with below average chips at 27.6k.
Greg "Fossilman" Raymer had a stronger day. The 2004 ME Champion kept his friendly banter up at his table until he moved the fossil over his cards and his glasses were placed over his eyes. Raymer ended the day with 49k.
Alex Jacob was one of the last alternates seated at 2:45, and he quickly got to work to build his stack. "I don't remember a ton of big hands from yesterday," the Yale graduate. "I just chipped up through the day." The understated Jacob ended the day with 189k and is a force when he gains momentum and chips, as his top finishes in the last year prove. His results are stellar, including a runner-up finish last year at the WPT Foxwoods ($655k), two final tables and four cashes in last year's World Series ($130k), and taking down the US Poker Championships in October ($878k).
All are after the top prize of $727k to sit atop this record field of players. With 270 players starting Day 2, there is a lot of poker left to be played.