The penultimate stop on the WSOP Circuit schedule before the 2008 World Series, the $5,000 main event at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip always attracts a mix of players, combining Circuit regulars like Doug "Rico" Carli and Lance Allred with Vegas-based pros like Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel and Erica Schoenberg.
This year's event, coming as it did just three days after David Chiu's triumph across Flamingo at the World Poker Tour's World Championship at Bellagio, had the added bonus of featuring Eurostars like Dario Minieri, Arnaud Mattern, Bertrand Grospellier and Mark Teltscher.
The field of 334 also included the likes of Steve Wong, Danny Wong, Scotty Nguyen, Brandon Cantu, Russ "Dutch" Boyd, Joe Tehan, Robert Cheung and, oh yeah, defending champ Cory Carroll, among a wide assortment of other notable, notorious and arguably interesting personalities.
Carroll, possibly exhausted from his deep run at the WPT Championship, did not stick around to defend his title for very long, disappearing from the PokerListings.com radar within two levels of the tournament's commencing. His elimination would prove among the first of many on Day 1 of this three-day event, with pros making the least of their $10,000 stacks over eight 75-minute levels that saw almost 300 of their number sent home before day's end.
The 334 players who signed up for Tuesday's event contributed $5,000 each to a $1,610,200 total prize pool, and after registration closed following the first level of play it was announced that 36 of those players would earn monetary reward for their efforts this week. The first nine players to visit the cashier will leave with $6,441 for their troubles, with the top four finishers each relieving Caesars Palace of a six-figure sum and the winner of the event earning $499,162 for his time - just shy of the $506,176 Carroll took home last year.
With most of the field having played in the $25,000 WPT Championship, where entrants were blessed with 90-minute levels and $50,000 stacks, it was perhaps understandable that the field treated this event as something of a turbo. By the end of the night, 290 players had been sent to the rail, with only 54 remaining by the time the closing bell rang.
Early eliminations would include Scotty Nguyen, David Singer, Gavin Smith, Jimmy Fricke, Robert Mizrachi, Jonathan Little, all of whom hit the road before the dinner break between Levels 4 and 5, by which point 140 players had already been eliminated.
After the return from the buffet line, Justin Bonomo seemingly took it upon himself to uglify the room a little bit, sending both Erica Schoenberg and Amanda Baker to the rail in separate hands. Schoenberg's demise was predicated on the Full Tilt pro getting all-in with pocket jacks against ZeeJustin's T♠ 7♠, and even though David Benyamine's better half flopped a set, that same flop gave Bonomo the gut-shot straight and he got there on the turn. The river bricked out and E-Scho was dunzo.
Baker also fell with jacks, although her elimination occurred in a more conventional manner. She got all-in against Bonomo's A♣ K♣ and saw the board improve ZeeJustin's hand while doing nothing to her own. And just like that both women were gone.
As the day continued, the pros continued their parade to the rail, with Layne Flack, Bertrand Grospellier and Jared Hamby amongst the eliminatees. Meanwhile, Doug Lee found himself on a heater, eliminating Phil Gordon with top pair against Gordon's flush draw and racing out to the chip lead about three-quarters of the way through the day.
Lee would send Mark Teltscher to the rail to build his stack up to $130,000 by the time the final break rolled around and then - perhaps buoyed by a break-time stop at the PokerListings.com mobile headquarters, during which time he outlined his plan to rid tablemate Dario Minieri of his chips - returned to the tables and put his plan into action. He got the last of the diminutive Italian's markers with bottom set against the PokerStars pro's top two pair. Lee would build his stack up to a high-water mark of $200,000 but would see his stock fall during the last level, and he'd wind up the day with about $125,000.
Eliminations late in the day included a cadre of Full Tilt pros, with Jeff Madsen, Erik Seidel, Erick Lindgren and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson all finding themselves suddenly devoid of plans for the week. Meanwhile, it was the colorfully named Max Reele who would jump to the top of the chip leaderboard, racking up a full $263,000 by day's end while simultaneously smuggling hooch, bedding dames and cracking wise.
Also among the 54 players who survived Day 1 are Steve Wong, Danny Wong, ZeeJustin, Newhizzle, Alex Kravchenko, Nenad Medic, J.C. Alvarado, Bill Edler and Allen Cunningham. Action will resume on Wednesday at noon Pacific Time and continue until those 54 are reduced to 9, with 18 of tonight's survivors destined to leave the tournament empty-handed tomorrow.
As usual, you'll be able to follow all the action in the Live Tournaments section on PokerListings.com. We dare you to find a more egregious misuse of your employer's time.
Chip counts are here, you degenerates.