It was a massive undertaking. The field for the day consisted of the combined finishers from Days 1C and 1D, the two largest of the starting days, and there were 2,924 players to fit into the Rio at the beginning of the day on Wednesday. In order to keep play nine-handed as all other days had been required, it was going to put Harrah’s over its capacity for tables. That presented some issues for the tournament staff before the action even got underway.
What Harrah’s did was utilize every bit of space possible. Tables and dealers were waiting for players in the Amazon Room, Brasilia Room, Miranda Room, in the casino near Buzio’s Restaurant, and in the casino poker room. And the Amazon Room was so packed with tables that the spectator walkway was practically eliminated for the first hour of the day while the field thinned enough to break those tables and resume railbird normalcy. It seemed like quite the complicated operation, but in the end, Harrah’s made it work, and all players were seated and reseated as the tournament played on.
Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack noted that the field of 2,924 made for the largest returning field ever in a poker tournament on a given day, but luckily it was manageable with the proper preparation, starting only 15 minutes later than scheduled. And the field thinned quickly as the day progressed, as had Day 2A the day before.
The first elimination of note occurred only shortly after play began when Erick Lindgren, who came in as one of the shorter stacks, got involved with two players preflop. After the first three cards came , Craig Ivey bet, Vinny Pahuja folded, and Lindgren pushed all-in for his last 17,500. Ivey called with pocket jacks, but Lindgren gladly showed his pocket queens. The on the turn changed nothing, but the on the river was the worst card Lindgren could see, as it pushed him out of the tournament.
Some of the major excitement of the day took place on the featured tables, set up specifically for ESPN. The main table boasted of Phil Hellmuth, which packed the stands with audience members, but one of his teammates was Todd Witteles, an online poker player who was one of the first to uncover the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet cheating scandals in previous years. With Hellmuth as one of the most famous UB players never to make a statement on the issue, Witteles confronted him at the table in front of the ESPN cameras, but the tournament staff soon threatened to issue him a penalty if he continued on the subject. Hellmuth finally busted the short-stacked Witteles, but Witteles was able to make his point, if only to cameras that would never show his comments on television.
Players throughout the tournament wasted no time playing to double up or leave, and some of the players who were eliminated in the process of trying to complete the first level included Eric Froehlich, Sebastian Ruthenberg, Isabelle Mercier, Paul Darden, Victor Ramdin, and Bill Chen.
As the day went on, there were several celebrities trying to make a go of it, and Marlon Wayans was one of them. Though an early hit took the comedic actor down to 14,500 in chips, he was able to steadily climb throughout the day. But nearing the end of the fourth level of the day, he got involved with Fergal Nealon. Wayans put his tournament life on the line with a solid pocket pair of kings, and Nealon came up short with queens. The board came 9-6-2-A-Q, and Wayans was brutally eliminated from the Main Event.
Another celebrity who had a rough day but survived it was Jordan Farmar, player for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was able to catch hands when necessary and survive with over 100K when play stopped.
As far as former Main Event champions went, Joe Hachem held on and made it through the day, but Peter Eastgate may have had the toughest day, getting chipped down to only 21K at the beginning of the action. But as former fellow final tablist Ylon Schwartz was eliminated, Eastgate climbed. After having been relegated to only 8K, he doubled up when he needed. In the end, he doubled with 6-5 on a 10-5-2-6-6 board against J-10, and he pushed his against the of an opponent on a board of . That put him over the 100K mark and in contention for a repeat title.
The last level of the night found several players ousted, such as Tom Dwan, Johnny Lodden, David Plastik, and Cyndy Violette. When it was all said and done, there were approximately 1,486 players remaining in the field. Official chip counts were not released, but all survivors would join those from Day 2A to combine the field on Friday, July 10, to thin the field further and closer to the money.