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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | WSOP 2008 Tournaments

First Event of 2008 WSOP Triggers Excitement Meter

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The first day of the World Series of Poker is exciting in itself, no matter what the event that kicks it off. But when the initial tournament is one that is sure to bring out the stars of the game – the best and most avid players from around the globe – the level of excitement increases exponentially.

Event #1 was the $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Hold’em, which for the first time ever had a buy-in equal to other primary championship events. The equivalent event in 2007 was a $5,000 buy-in championship of pot-limit hold’em, and out of 398 registered players, Allen Cunningham won his fifth WSOP bracelet and a $487,287 first prize. This year, only 352 players entered, but with the doubled buy-in, the prize pool was an impressive $3,308,800. The top 36 finishers will be paid, and the winner will receive $794,121 to go with that gold bracelet.

The stars sure did come out for this event, many arriving early to explore the changes that Harrah’s made for the 2008 WSOP and take time to get comfortable and focused before the start of the tournament. Prior to the cards being dealt, players witnessed a kick-off by the UNLV marching band, opening words from WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and Tournament Director Jack Effel, and a “shuffle up and deal” from the legendary Doyle Brunson.

Some of the big names on hand for the championship event included Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Antonio Esfandiari, Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello, Tom McEvoy, Josh Arieh, Humberto Brenes, Bill Gazes, David Singer, Howard Lederer, Shannon Shorr, Shane Schleger, Gavin Smith, Bill Edler, Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Chau Giang, Jeffrey Lisandro, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown, Joe Sebok, Barry Greenstein, JC Tran, Kristy Gazes, Scott Clements, Tom Schneider, Gavin Griffin, Justin Bonomo, Tom Dwan, Andy Bloch, and Chris Ferguson. And that only scrapes the surface. Also in the field were defending champion Allen Cunningham, baseball legend Orel Hershiser, and actress Shannon Elizabeth.

As it is in tournaments of any level, some players must leave early. Unfortunately, one of those players was Shannon Elizabeth, and her beats were not pretty, as she lost a significant hand with pocket Aces against the pocket sixes of Beth Shak, then had her Aces taken down by pocket 10’s that turned into quads by the river. Jennifer Tilly also made an early exit when her two pair was bested by Hasan Habib’s straight.

Other players ousted in the first few rounds included Kristy Gazes, David Pham, Bill Gazes, Shannon Shorr, Katja Thater, Terrance Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, J.C. Tran, Steve Wong, Clonie Gowen, Greg Raymer, Jean Robert Bellande, Dewey Tomko, Chad Brown, Howard Lederer, and Kenny Tran.

One of the most controversial hands of the day occurred early in the day when Kathy Liebert and Jan von Halle were involved in some action that was checked all the way to the river. It turned out that von Halle checked last with nothing less than a royal flush. When the hand was shown, several players – Andy Black, Joe Sebok, and Amnon Filippi – quickly called for the floorperson, who gave von Halle a warning for collusion. Checking the ultimate nuts as the last to act on the river is a red flag in any tournament.

By the end of the day, the field had dwindled to approximately 70 players. Perhaps indicative of the star-studded nature of the tournament from the start, many notable players remained, including Anna Wroblewski, Kevin Saul, JC Alvarado, Rolf Slotboom, Jennifer Harman, Allen Kessler, Ted Lawson, Kathy Liebert, Mike Sexton, Chris Ferguson, Lyle Berman, Humberto Brenes, David Benyamine, Mark Newhouse, Patrik Antonius, Phil Laak, Nenad Medic, and Tuan Le.

Eli Elezra grabbed the chip lead at the end of the night, and pending the official chip counts, he looked to be sitting just above the 300,000 chip mark. Close behind are Amit Makhija, Justin Newton, Mike Sowers, and David Bach.

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