The floor was filled with the usual mega-satellites for the Main Event, which saw ballooning fields today. But as the last $1,500 No-Limit event and a $1,500 Limit Shootout played down to a champion, things were much quieter than normal.
In the $1,500 No-Limit, Matt Matros came in with the chip lead and Scott Sitron hot on his heels. Sitron grabbed control early on and eventually got to heads-up with a chip lead.
But 27-year-old Californian pro David Daneshgar came into the final table as the most experienced player, and after outlasting seven others to get heads-up with Sitron, he proved there's no substitute for seasoning.
He chipped away at Sitron until he grabbed the lead, then pounced with a pocket pair, faded a Sitron ace and took home the bracelet and a $625,443 payday.
While we didn't follow the Ante Up For Africa charity event with the usual PL.com vigor, we can tell you the Don Cheadle- and Annie Duke-hosted tournament to benefit Darfur had its share of star power.
Charles Barkley, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Adam Sandler, Ray Roman and Jason Alexander were among the many celebs and top-flight poker pros who kicked in the $5k to play. But in the end, the 2008 WSOP continued to prove it is the Year of the Pro, with John Hennigan taking the title.
We don't have it confirmed, but we can assume a healthy fear of Annie Duke's wrath and a good heart ensured Hennigan donated the winnings to the Sudanese relief effort.
With those two out of the way, PL.com quickly came to the realization that despite the lack of interest around the Rio in the $1,500 Limit Shootout, we were in it for the long haul, as they started the day with some 70-odd players and a champion nowhere in sight.
As the masses fell by the wayside the final table finally began around 11 p.m. with Jean-Robert Bellande, Danny Wong, John Kranyak, Joe DeNiro, Mike Kachan, Brandon Wong, Andrew Prock, Spencer Lawrence and Matt Graham all sitting down for a Limit SNG to settle the score.
With $300k starting stacks and minuscule blinds to begin the final, it took a good four hours before a single player was eliminated. Things did begin to heat up though, and although there were very few eyes in the room, all of them were on Bellande to see if he could finally become more than just that poker player who was on Survivor.
Once they got down to six-handed, Bellande was neck and neck with Danny Wong for the chip lead, but by the time there were five he had built a massive stack and taken complete control of the match. Danny Wong soon stepped out of the way, as did his namesake Brandon Wong, and Bellande found himself sitting on a massive chip lead three-handed, with more than 3-1 on Matt Graham and Joe DeNiro.
DeNiro got out of the way and Bellande took that huge lead into heads-up with Graham, but Graham wouldn't go away.
Bellande fell apart, giving away the chip lead, then agreeing on a money chop before they played it out for the gold. One would think that would speed up the process, but one would be wrong, as play continued past 7 a.m. Vegas time with still no winner decided.
Eventually Bellande could not survive and Matt Graham, claiming he'd had just two hours' sleep in the past two days, took down his first WSOP bracelet.
With the end of Day 34 finally upon us, we were only a few hours away from the big dance, and PL.com had to head home quickly to put its best dress on. The preliminaries are over, the Main Event is here and it's time to put the women and children to bed and go hunting for dinner.