The $1,500 2-7 Triple Draw is an event that tends to attract poker's elite, but today, the field had fewer of the stars we have come to expect in these niche poker events.
There was still a fair smattering of talented players in the mix, with Andy Bloch, Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer and John Juanda amongst others all signed up and looking to increase the collection of WSOP gold already accumulated in their bulging trophy cabinets.
Many of these fell by the wayside during the day, but a late charge from Greg Raymer saw him rise to the top, with pride of the nerds Bill Chen, and recent bracelet winner John "The Dragon" Phan also vying for the bracelet in the top 10. 30 players will resume tomorrow to play down to the final table.
The $1,500 Mixed Hold'Em kicked off today with 731 competitors clashing over across the felt. Much like the format of the event, the standard was a mixed bag with the Negreanus and Brunsons of the poker world playing shoulder to shoulder with the Micky McMucks and the Derek Donkoffs of poker.
Again, there was a pervading feeling amongst the players that the limit section of the tournament was playing too juicily, putting an unfair emphasis on this element. Hellmuth gave the crowd something to remember with a classic "Pokerbrat"-style tantrum as he watched the bulk of his chips disappear to a bad beat, his pocket cowboys cracked in spectacular fashion by David Plastik's big slick.
By the close of play, Plastik was still in contention with Ricky Sanders was heading the pack and French multi world series final tablist Fabrice Soulier not far behind in fourth spot. The players who can adapt and run best to the highly significant limit stages may prove the key in determining who ultimately rises from the pack to seize their chance of picking up the coveted bracelet.
The latest $1,500 animal-fest kicked off yesterday with another packed to the rafeters field that boasted 2,720 participants. As we've seen in recent days, there was an incredible rate of attrition, partly attributable to the mere $3,000 the players were given to play with and partly attributable to the "varied" standard of play witnessed.
The 146 players that began afresh today were able to withstand the pressure somewhat more succesfully, taking close to twelve hours to play down to the final nine.
Tom Werthmann had started the day in the top ten counts, and by the time the dust had settled, he was heading the pack into the final table, with over $1.5 million chips to his name.
An exciting final played out in the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'Em event. John Shipley was the first down, falling to Cody Slaubaugh whilst former English soapstar Michael "Don't Call Me Beppe" Beppe, er Greco was to be the unfortunate victim of a Kings V Aces cooler that ended his final prematurely.
Ben Roberts, Ayaz Mahmood and Robert Cheung all followed suit, eliminated soon afterwards, before perhaps the best known face at the final, and finalist at last year's WSOP Main Event, Lee Watkinson, perished against Chris Bell.
A quickfire final was brought closer to resolution as Von Halle and Greer were knocked out in 4th and 3rd respectively, Greer being unlucky to run his shorthanded Jacks into Chris Bell's Queens.
This precipitated a marathon heads up game between Chris Bell and Davidi Kitai, that lasted five hours and witnessed the chip lead see-saw furiously. Eventually the blinds had reached a gargantuan size and the play was forced to come to a head, the big stacked Davidi Kitai's A-Q winning out over Chris Bell's dominated A-J. His watching Winamax teamates erupted into joy.
$244,546 was the reward for Kitai's performance, as well as setting history by becoming the first Belgian to take down a WSOP bracelet.
A great day's play and more drama beckons as we move stealthily ever further through the 2008 WSOP schedule.