The story of the second day of competition, and arguably of the tournament so far, is chip leader Brandi Hawbaker. The Tennessee native with just over $10,000 in tournament winnings to date has been capturing most of the attention with her pretty face, chatty demeanor and, oh yeah, the massive stack of chips in front of her.
Hawbaker, a self-avowed hippie who has just turned to professional poker after spending a number of years traveling abroad, won her way into the Festa al Lago by winning a $1,000 satellite earlier in the month. But even coming up with that first thousand dollars wasn't easy. Hawbaker said she spent some long hours at the cash games "grinding it out" to make the entry fee, and claims to even now have only the cash in her wallet (a $20 bill, a $5 and a number of $1 bills) to her name.
Despite some whisperings that she's just experiencing another run of Jamie Gold-esque luck, Hawbaker has made it through the second day of competition with more than $540,000 in chips, a substantial lead over the rest of the field, and has built her stack while facing down pros like Vanessa Rousso, Jeff Shulman and Ariel Schneller - players who, Hawbaker says, completely awe her.
It will be interesting to watch how Hawbaker navigates the remaining field of pros on Day 3 and beyond, and whether she can keep it together all the way to the final table, Jamie Gold-style. Even if she goes on tilt and busts first thing tomorrow morning, she'll still have $12,525 to her name; roughly 400 times her professed current net worth.
The other big story of Day 2 was the redraw fiasco that inflamed Mike Matusow and tested the organizational skills (and patience) of tournament director Jack McClelland. Tournament organizers had originally planned to have players redraw for seats after every nine eliminations once the field had been narrowed to 100. They claimed it was due to suspicions of soft-play and collusion, but tournament pros countered with their own complaints that the constant moves made it impossible to get a feel for the table. For chip leaders like Brandi Hawbaker, the policy was also incredibly inconvenient; every twenty minutes or so players would have to re-rack their chips and take them to another table and for those with $200,000-$300,000 in chips, it meant a lot of racking and re-racking.
Mike Matusow, for one, was not going to take it. After Hawbaker eliminated Rudy Kretzmeier and McClelland announced a redraw, "The Mouth" stood in the middle of the tournament floor and professed himself furious. His complaints grew louder and more profane and he began pacing around the room, drawing a twenty-minute penalty and urging the assembled players into an uproar.
Finally, McClelland, a consummate professional and favorite of many veterans of the tournament circuit, decided to allow the players to vote for or against the redraw policy. The vote came back overwhelmingly against, and the redraw scheme was shelved. That left only Mike "The Martyr" Matusow to be dealt with, and Chip Jett flopped a set of jacks against his pocket queens. But that's another story.
So Day 2 has concluded, and along with Mike Matusow have gone Victor Ramdin, Jennifer Harman and Carlos Mortensen, so Day 3 should be just as exciting as its predecessor. Stay tuned, and don't forget to check out the live updates section for the rest of Day 2's juicy stories.