One year ago PL.com was here in force, bringing you all the action as Peter "Nordberg" Feldman battled his way through a tough final table including Davidson Matthew, Erik Cajelais, Shane Schleger, Danny Wong, Yoon Kim, Gavin Smith and Gavin Griffin to take down a healthy $280,000 and change.
This year it looks unlikely that the finale will be quite as pro-packed but there are still a few familiar faces left in the mix. Matthew Hyman, Lee Watkinson, Vanessa Rousso, Gavin Smith and Theo Tran will all have a shot at the final table tomorrow and a possible victory on Thursday.
With such a small field there's only room in the prize pool for 18 players to get paid. First place will be taking $229,002 with the payouts decreasing all the way down to $8,482 for places 16 to 18. With 27 left that means nine players will be forced to return tomorrow only to leave empty-handed.
At the beginning of the afternoon all 148 were herded into the tournament area to take their respective seats. With so many pros in the room, relative to the small field, it was inevitable that a few of them would find themselves seated next to one another.
One table in particular caught our attention though. Home to Anna Wroblewski, Gavin Smith, Brandon Cantu, Theo Tran and Bryan Devonshire, this shark tank wouldn't last long, as it was one of the first tables to be broken.
Each of the sharks found new habitat and it wasn't long before another patch of felt had developed a pro-heavy roster of its own. Brandon Cantu was moved from the original table of doom and found himself seated with Roy "The Oracle" Winston, Jeff Madsen, Erick "E-Dog" Lindgren and Layne "Back-to-Back" Flack.
Of all these professionals only a pair would survive the day. Theo Tran and Gavin Smith are the two last vestiges of the toughest tables in the room.
Unlike most Day 1's the chip lead was static for most of the day, held firmly in the hands of Kenny Bedoya. Layne Flack was the early leader but it wasn't long before his stack found itself decimated, split among a few big pots with the majority finding its way to Bedoya's section of felt. By the time the chips went in the bags at the end of the night Kenny had amassed a staggering $438,400, almost $200,000 more than his nearest competition.
For a full rundown of the end-of-day chip counts, as well as a detailed record of all the Day 1 action, check out the Live Updates page.
Just a few weeks ago we were introduced to the new WSOP Circuit schedule for three-day championship events which calls for a full 12 levels to be played on Day 1. It wasn't a huge hit in Mississippi and it seems the crowd here in California feels about the same. With only 18 eliminations needed on Day 2 to reach the final table of nine it seems like overkill to subject players to 14 hours of play on Day 1, broken only by 15-minute breaks and a one-hour dinner break.
The plan calls for either 12 levels or the playdown to 27 players, whichever comes first. This evening those two goals were reached almost simultaneously as the final elimination occurred about halfway through Level 12.
Because of the late conclusion to the action this evening, tomorrow's start time has been pushed back to 2 p.m. (PST), affording the players, and the media, a chance at a decent night's sleep. We suggest you follow suit and hit us back at 14:00 hours for full coverage of the play-down to the final table. There are no exclusive media deals here to stop us from our trademark live-tournament pwnage so we urge you to come along for the ride and bask in the gentle warmth of our comprehensive coverage.