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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | WSOP2009 Tournaments

Day 1 Action: Event 1 for Casino Employees Kicks Off 2009 WSOP

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It was poised to be one of the most orderly tournaments of the 2009 World Series of Poker. Not only did the day revolve around casino employees, who are well aware of how to conduct themselves at the tables because many of them are dealers and poker room staff, but they were also participating in the one and only tournament on the first day of the schedule.

Event 1 was the $500 buy-in Casino Employees NLHE tournament, the lowest buy-in of any event but quite the popular one among those who are an integral part of the game. And to kick off the festivities, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel thanked everyone for coming and welcomed the media and players to the 2009 WSOP. They then turned over the microphone to the all-time bracelet leader of the World Series, Phil Hellmuth. After participating in dealer training for several days prior to this year’s WSOP launch due to his past habit of berating players, Hellmuth had formed something of a bond with many of the casino employees and happily gave them the order: “Shuffle up and deal!”

With that, the action got underway and promised ten levels in the first of two days that the tournament would cover. Two sections of the Amazon Room at the Rio were full of players, and when the registration period finally closed, it was determined that the number of registrants reached 866. Though WSOP organizers predicted that 1,023 players would turn out, the final number was not apparently disappointing to the competitors, who created a $389,700 prize pool for themselves.

In the crowd were several players that would be recognizable in any poker circle, such as famed tournament director Jack McClelland, long-time pro and poker room host Marsha Waggoner, and successful pro Pat Poels. But much of the field fell fast, as it diminished to only 380 players by the end of the fourth level. Action was fast in the first part of the day, though it slowed tremendously toward the end when the money bubble came into play.

It wasn’t until well after midnight in Las Vegas that the bubble play ensued, and the elimination of Kyle Morris by Ramy Zakaria in 83rd place put them there. Play slowed even more as hand-for-hand action continued for more than 15 minutes. Ultimately, an unnamed short-stacked player finally pushed all-in with 6-5 of hearts to the A-Q of his opponent. The board came close but missed with J-10-8-7-J and burst the bubble.

That left 81 players to return for the second day of Event 1, and Cesar Chavez held the chip lead when play ended for the night with 107,700 chips. Casey Kuhn, an early leader in the day who then struggled and had to regain status in the evening hours, found himself in second place with 101,300 chips.

Day 1 concluded with those 81 competitors set to return on Day 2 to play down to the final table and find their champion all in the same day. It could be a long day for the casino employee crowd and their fans, but it will be rewarded with the first bracelet of the 2009 WSOP going to one of them when it is all said and done.

Stay tuned to throughout the 2009 WSOP as we provide daily recaps of the non-final table action as well as detailed summaries of each and every final table. We are hunkered down at the Rio in Las Vegas for the duration!

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