The first day that the field begins the combination process is always an exciting one, as it is a sign that the number of players will soon be relatively manageable and all in the same place at the same time in a matter of days. Those who made it to Day 2A were the early starters, those who played on the first two starting days of the Main Event, and they were finally back at the Rio to play again.
The 2009 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event was in full swing in Las Vegas, and the beginning of Day 2’s made it more real. The media was close to having a field that was prone to more keen observation and tracking of various players, and the players could see that a Main Event cash was a day closer to being a reality. Though there would be one more Day 2 to go before bringing the entire field together, each day of action going forward brought the festivities one step closer to finding the elite November Nine.
Players on Day 2A had a certain serenity about them, whereas competitors on the first day of the tournament tend to be somewhat giddy about the notion of the WSOP. By making it through the first day, an air of confidence took over, and though there was certainly tension in the air as the stress level increased, it was a more serious tone with which they approached the Rio and their games on Day 2. That made for a better poker day for the players, the media, and the staff.
When the action began at noon on Tuesday, July 7, there were 1,476 players in the field from the two most sparsely-attended of the four starting days, and many of them disappeared at a fairly rapid rate throughout the afternoon and evening hours.
The first notable elimination of the day was Gus Hansen, when he got the last of his chips in on a board of with A-J for the turned straight. His opponent was there with pocket threes for the set, but a came on the river to give him the full house and knock Hansen out of the tournament.
Others who left early in the day included Sandra Naujoks, Johannes Strassmann, Jennifer Tilly, Jon Turner, Richard Brodie, and Brian Townsend. Celine Dion’s husband Rene Angelil was ousted when his pocket queens met up with the 8-7 of his opponent on a 8-6-5 flop, only to see the turn come the 10 and the river bring the 9. Tony G also left during the first few hours of the day, as did former main event champion Johnny Chan.
One of the players many hated to see leave the field was Jack Ury. For the last several years, he has been the oldest player at the WSOP Main Event, and this year, at 97-years old, he played again. After surviving the first day, he came into Day 2A and lost some ground but doubled up early in the day with pocket sevens on a 7-6-6 board against the 7-6 of his opponent. The better full house left him with 20K in chips, but he moved that soon enough on a board of . Ury was holding , but his opponent showed . The river produced an to eliminate Ury, which garnered him a round of applause from a good portion of the room as he departed.
The field thinned further as the day proceeded, and by the dinner break, the Brasilia Room was empty and one entire section of the Amazon Room was reopened for cash games. It wasn’t until late in the evening, in the fifth and last level of the night, that other big names were sent home. That list of names included Mike Gracz, Alex Kravchenko, Billy Argyros, Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith, and Todd Brunson, the latter elimination leaving Pam Brunson as the last family member standing.
The presence of Brad Garrett in a poker room is unmistakable, and it was certainly that way in the evening hours of Day 2A, as his schtick rises to a new level and the ESPN camera crews jump to be present and hang on his every word. Finally, however, Garrett was low on chips and decided to gamble. The hand took much longer than it should have, due to ESPN direction and the antics courtesy of Garrett, but it started with a flop of . Garrett and Peter Kremenliev got involved with another bet and call to see the on the turn. Kremenliev bet again, and Garrett check-called, which led to the on the river. Kremenliev bet, and Garrett check-called for the remainder of his chips with for middle pair, but Kremenliev showed for two pair and the win. Garrett was eliminated, and the ESPN crews were forced to cover actual poker players for the rest of the evening.
The last level of play saw “Amarillo” Slim Preston leave the field, as well as Dewey Tomko and Juha Helppi. WSOP champions Carlos Mortensen and Jim Bechtel kept their stacks alive through the end of the day, as did Australian sports star Shane Warne.
Play finally ended with 607 of the originally 1,476, and the official chip counts showed Andrew Gaw in the chip lead with 386,800. Directly behind in second place was Eric Cloutier and his 383,500 chips, and rounding out the top five were Ed Perry, Brandon Demes, and Miika Puumalainen. All of the survivors would take the following day off to allow Day 2B to play down, and Thursday was a day off for everyone before returning on July 10 to combine the field for Day 3.