Poker and politics in the United States are intertwined not only by necessity in today’s age of online gaming but by history. Some of the most famous Presidents have been avid poker players, and many members of state and federal government are well-known to play in cash games when their schedules allow. But of late, with the astounding popularity of online poker and the complications that come along with it, the poker community’s involvement in politics has become a necessary partnership.
The Poker Players Alliance has become an integral part of that, as the PPA has grown to a powerful lobbying force in Congress over the past few years and garnered the support of more than 1.2 million paying members in its organization. And as it has grown into a force in Congress, one that calls Congressional Representatives like Barney Frank, Shelley Berkley, and Jim McDermott allies in the fight to preserve the rights of Americans to play poker online.
While it is typically the case that the PPA does its business in Washington, D.C., the organization has maintained a solid presence in Las Vegas during the 2009 World Series of Poker. But the PPA has also asked that some of poker’s staunchest supporters in D.C. come to the WSOP to visit and speak about ongoing legislation and efforts in Congress to protect the rights of players. Earlier in the WSOP, Rep. Shelley Berkley accompanied former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato to spend some time at the WSOP to announce National Poker Week, and D’Amato even played in the seniors-only event. And today, the author of the Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act, House Financial Services Committee Chairman and Rep. Barney Frank, came to the Amazon Room to encourage poker players to support pro-internet gaming legislation. He also issued the “shuffle up and deal” command before taking a tour of the WSOP festivities and holding a press conference in the early afternoon.
Frank’s presence at the WSOP signified the importance of the Series to the world of poker but more importantly the need to protect our rights lest they be taken away by the anti-gambling contingent in society. While the rights of poker players are in jeopardy in various countries throughout the world, the fight is perhaps even more amplified in the United States due to the millions of poker players in America and the openness of the battle being waged on the state and federal level.
With Frank at the Rio, the message of poker players’ rights was brought to the forefront as well-over 1,000 competitors took their seats to vie for millions of dollars and the most coveted title in poker. They were informed that they would be playing five levels, unlike the players in the two days prior. That meant that Day 1D would follow the same five-level structure, and all of those returning on Day 2B would only play four levels to allow the other day’s players to catch up.
In all, there were 1,696 players in the third starting day, and the contingent of well-known pros was higher than the two previous days. Some of the names included Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, John Juanda, Phil Hellmuth, Jeff Lisandro, Dennis Phillips, Gavin Griffin, Liz Lieu, Lee Watkinson, Amnon Filippi, Terrence Chan, Kevin Saul, Matt Mattros, Jonathan Little, Ylon Schwartz, Howard Lederer, Justin Bonomo, Bill Chen, Blair Rodman, J.J. Liu, Isabelle Mercier, Marcel Luske, Hevad Khan, Brandon Cantu, and Kirill Gerasimov. Also in the field was “Miami John Cernuto, after his collapse during a previous event due to a medical issue, he was back in action and glad to be there.
It only took about seven minutes to find the first eliminated player of the day, and it happened on a flop. While one player folded pocket aces, another was all-in with pocket tens and another with pocket fives. The came on the turn and the on the river, and the player with bottom set was ousted from the tournament.
Also in the field were several former Main Event champions, including Jamie Gold, Dan Harrington, Joe Hachem, and Tom McEvoy. But only two would survive the day. Jamie Gold took his exit when his came up against the pocket jacks of a competitor. The board came to bring a set and eliminate Gold. Tom McEvoy was also ousted after pushing with his pocket tens on a flop. His opponent called with pocket queens, and the on the turn and on the river ended McEvoy’s run at another title.
The only celebrity contingent in the crowd on Day 1D was a professional boxer and Olympic champion by the name of Antonio Tarver. Though the fighter tried to make it through the day, he drew a tough table late in the day with Scotty Nguyen and Lee Watkinson, and he was eliminated midway through the evening hours.
Notably, with registrations for the following day already being taken, it was announced by the WSOP that it officially crossed the $1 billion mark for total prize money awarded in its history. Over the course of 40 years, the billion dollars had been distributed among a wide variety of players of all skill levels, though two-thirds of the amount was awarded in the last four years. With that number came another; the total prize pool for the 2009 WSOP would soar past the $155 million mark.
When all was said and done and players bagged their chips at the end of the fifth level of the day, it was Joseph Cada in the lead with 187,225 chips. Second on the list was Tyler Patterson, and rounding out the top five were Sebastien Stier, Chance Kornuth, and Ariel Schneller. Of note was Jeff Lisandro’s position in sixth with 146,950 chips.
All of the day’s 1,106 finishers would be returning on Day 2B on Wednesday, July 8, to play alongside Day 1D finishers in their pursuit of making it through another day.