1,545 players headed to the Rio on a Saturday afternoon looking for their shot at the unknown top prize awaiting them on 17 July. For many of last year's Main Event stars, it was a return to the scene of the crime to try and catch magic again.
Final Tablists Paul Wasicka (2nd), Rhett Butler (5th), Richard Lee (6th), and Doug Kim (7th) took their seats after an adventurous year. Wasicka proved that his runner-up finish wasn't a fluke, winning the NBC Heads-Up Championship, final tabling the WPT LA Poker Classic, and starring on High Stakes Poker. The FullTilt red pro finished the day barely above where he started at 22k.
Richard Lee's had a year he'd probably rather forget. When police take your computers away from your house, it can never be a good thing. Regardless of the sports gambling probe that he's been involved in, he had a San Antonio cap and a Texas shirt, paying homage to his beloved hometown. He had an unfortunate table draw with 2007 WSOP bracelet winner Alan Smurfit one to his right and Tony G in the 10s. "Tony G came to me after our table broke," said Smurfit. "He said that we were unfortunate to have such a horrible table." Horrible as in tight and stagnant, which meant that the ten players simply shifted their 200k in chips around for six hours. Their table broken, each man went in different direction. Smurfit finished with 20k, while Tony G (42k) and Lee (55k) finally amassed a few chips.
Rhett Butler has spent the last year playing a few events here and there. He won a $1k Mixed Game event at the Wynn in March, beating David Plastik and Nam Le at the final table among others.
Doug Kim has played little poker since walking away from the Amazon Room with his family and Jason Strasser last year. He started a consulting job when he returned home, and much of the year has been spent grinding it out in a different way: the grind of a first-year consultant.
His Main Event went a bit differently this year than last as he surged to the top of the leaderboard early until a big hand with Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy. "Yeah, I just bluffed off half my chips to JohnnyBax," he told me. On a board of , Doug finally pushed all-in for Josephy's last 24k into a pot of 12k. Josephy reluctantly called with for the nut flush, and Doug quickly mucked. Doug regrouped and is in great shape with 69k.
Jamie Gold was also in the room rooting on his mother, Jane Gold. She finished the day at 41k and will return Tuesday.
Many top players were less fortunate. Those making an exit included Isabelle Mercier, Kathy Liebert, Scott Fischman, Jennifer Harman, Jeff Lisandro, Justin Bonomo, Dan Shak, Paul Sexton, Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Scott Clements, Robert Cheung, David Williams, Sam Farha, Davidson Matthew, Aaron Kanter, Sam Grizzle, John Juanda, Vanessa Selbst, and Patrik Antonius. Joe Sebok sat on the chip lead early only to finish at a tenth of his stack at 8.5k.
For a complete list of who made it through Days 1A and 1B, go to this recap to see starting tables for Day 2A on Tuesday .
Albert Strickland won a sick hand to bust a player and pad his stack. A player moved all-in with pocket eights, and Strickland called with . The flop came , giving the all-in quads. incredibly brought the straight flush to Strickland. All the other guy gets is a t-shirt that says, "I flopped quads at the WSOP, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt..."
Dag Martin Mikkelsen from Norway finished atop the chip lead at 236k. The top twenty in chips:
Dag Martin Mikkelsen (236k)
Jeff Banghart (186k)
Albert Strickland (180k)
George Dunst (169k)
Lewis Pilkington (166k)
John Sacha (163k)
Sven Anders Johnsson (161k)
Jason Welch (161k)
Frank Bluemlein (152k)
John Duthie (151k)
Daniel Makowsky (148k)
Mike Spalliero (148k)
Rep Porter (148k)
Andrea Buzzigoli (147k)
Andrew Manser (143k)
Scott Seiver (141k)
David "The Dragon" Pham (140k)
Carl Henriksson (140k)
Bradley Duck (139k)
Curtis VanGilder (136k)
Michael Simhai (133k)
Sunday will be the biggest starting day of the Main Event more than likely, with more than 1,600 players getting started at noon. Tune into PokerWorks to see how the day transpires.