Records are already being set at the 2008 World Series of Poker. Event #2, the first $1,500 no-limit hold’em of the Series, has broken a record for most entrants with 3,929, making it the fourth largest poker tournament ever held. (The separate totals were 2,048 on Day 1A and 1,881 on Day 1B.) The new number also destroys last year’s record of 3,151 in a $1,500 no-limit event.
The powers-that-be wisely decided to divide up the tournament into two first days to best accommodate all players, and it proved to be quite the smart decision. Even with two flights, each day found players at nearly every table in the Amazon Room, in the casino poker room, and at some randomly roped-off tables in the hallway leading to the casino from the convention center. Though the fields dwindled rapidly both days, the constantly breaking tables did not diminish the excitement factor that remained as long as did the action.
Amateurs came from all over the world to play in Event #2, and the pros didn’t shy away from it either. Even Hollywood celebrities like actor Mekhi Phifer and comedian Kevin Hart made the trek to Las Vegas for the event, as did professional basketball player Earl Barron of the Miami Heat and National Hockey League player Jeremy Roenick. The range of players in this event was about as wide as it gets.
Some of the pro players in the field included Jerry Yang, Jennifer Tilly, Liz Lieu, Kirk Morrison, Carlos Mortensen, Lee Watkinson, Joe Sebok, Allen Kessler, John Juanda, Allen Cunningham, Scotty Nguyen, Isabelle Mercier, Andy Black, Jamie Gold, Erick Lindgren, Justin Bonomo, Eskimo Clark, Steve Zolotow, Eli Elezra, Ted Lawson, David Levi, Maria Ho, Scott Clements, Michael Mizrachi, David Singer, J.C. Tran, Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello, Mark Seif, Barry Greenstein, Marcel Luske, and David Pham. Phil Hellmuth made his signature late entrance, two and a half hours in, wearing his NASCAR-like jumpsuit.
The first significant elimination of the day was Cunningham, who left after only about 20 minutes of play. He was all-in after the cards , and Andy Black showed for the flush. Cunningham simply mucked and walked away. Scott Clements left shortly thereafter when his flopped full house was beat by the flopped quads of his opponent.
Players left the field in droves as the day progressed, and it looked for awhile as if the tournament staff might have to end the tournament early. The combined fields from both Day 1’s could not dip below a certain level, as it was determined that 378 players would be paid in the tournament. The intent was to stop 16 minutes into the ninth level, as that is when play stopped on Day 1A, and that is in fact what happened.
The Day 1B chip leader seemed to be David Bach, who took out two players in one of the final hands of the day to catapult over the 100,000 mark. The official second day of play for everyone will be tomorrow when the field joins together to play some cards, watch as a majority of the field goes home, and remaining players get ever closer to the final table and their pieces of the whopping $5,363,085 prize pool.