Even though the tournament is only in its third year, it has already become one of the single most prestigious titles in all of tournament poker. The event drew 148 runners, ranging from some of the most elite players in the game to satellite winners and rich amateurs who want to play against the world's best.
Day 1 saw the players begin with $100,000 in chips and five levels played out after the 5 p.m. start time. By approximately 2:45 a.m. local time, the final hands of the night had played out and 140 players survived through to Day 2.
Defending champion Freddy Deeb was in the field and ended the day with $111,600. Not performing quite so well was the only player in the event to have made the final table in both 2006 and 2007, David Singer. The Full Tilt pro finished with just $17,900 of his original stack intact.
Sitting at the same table as Singer but enjoying a much better run was day-end chip leader James Mackey. The 22-year-old Internet pro, who finished second earlier during this WSOP in the $10,000 Mixed Game World Championship, dominated play on Day 1 and finished up with $214,000 in chips. PokerListings.com talked to Mackey during the last break of the night and he admitted he had an experience deficit against the field.
"I think they probably underestimate me in all the games," said the young man known online as mig.com. "But they definitely have more experience than me.
"Whenever you look like me, when you're an online player and you don't have much experience, a lot of times they'll think I'm making beginner mistakes when maybe I'm actually not," Mackey concluded. "So I can use that fact to my advantage."
Day 2 of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. is scheduled to begin Thursday at 3 p.m. PDT.
Before even a few levels of the H.O.R.S.E. tournament could be completed, the final table of the $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em World Championship had already wrapped up. The event drew a record field of 2,218 players, which was topped by Dan Lacourse of Toledo, Ohio.
The champion was crowned quickly thanks to an urgent pace of play at the final table and a good run on his part.
A 27-year veteran detective, Lacourse eliminated five of his opponents, including the last four in a row, en route to the $368,832 first prize. In his post-win interview, Lacourse told PokerListings.com that his win came mostly thanks to solid, aggressive play.
"I bought a lot of hands today, made a lot of position bets, kept my lead up, kept my chip lead up," said Lacourse. "I could intimidate some of the other chip stacks, so that helped me in buying a lot of pots."
Two other events played out in the Amazon Room today. The first was Event 43, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8-or-Better, which played down to a final table. The 720-player field was whittled down to nine faster than any other field of this WSOP, and the best-known player coming into the final table is certainly Erik Seidel.
The eight-time bracelet winner comes into the final table tomorrow with the second-largest chip stack at the table and a chance to add another title to his already-impressive tournament resume. The opportunity came at the cost of playing in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, but Seidel told PokerListings.com that there was a silver lining.
"I consider this a $50,000 bonus that I got to stay in this one," said Seidel. He and his opponents will face off at 2 p.m. PDT on Thursday.
Rounding out the day's schedule was Day 1 of Event 44, the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em w/Rebuys. A big field of 839 players showed up ready to drop dimes in pursuit of a gold bracelet and lots of cold hard cash. The total prize pool came to $3,240,174, with first place taking home a healthy $693,392.
Ending the day as chip leader in Event 44 was Jamel Maistriaux, with a stack of $169,300 to his credit. He and 115 other players will return to action at 2 p.m. PDT Thursday.
As always, PokerListings.com's all-star live updates team will be on the scene at the Rio, bringing you all the coverage you expect starting when the first cards of the day get in the air at noon local time.