With few exceptions, friendliness or at the very least common courtesy was the norm among players and casino staff alike at Day 1 of the small, three-day event.
Though spirits were high, the day started off on a somber note as the tournament floor observed a moment of silence to mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York. The crowd was then led through a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" during which, in true patriotic Southern style, much of the tournament floor sang along with hand to heart.
With throngs of poker players across the pond seeking a second-chance bracelet at the Surinder Sunar, Shannon Shorr, Allen Kessler, Yoon Kim, Peter Feldman, Young Cho, Nani Dollison and Jordan Morgan.
Circuit celebs Dennis Perry - winner of the WSOPC event here at the Tunica Grand Casino in January -, Doug "Rico" Carli and Terry "Lake" Garner were also on the scene until each busted out before the end of Day 1.
Early noteworthy eliminations included Josh Arieh, who was knocked out of the tournament after failing to lock down a flush draw. The major blow to his stack came just hands before, however, when Arieh called a $15k push from Garner on a board showing Q♥ T♠ 2♥ 8♠.
Garner was holding 4♥ 8♥ for third pair and an eight-high flush draw to Arieh's A-Q. A K♥ came on the river and Arieh bemoaned the hand. "It's plays like that that allow me to make a living at this game," he said on his way out.
Hot on his heels were pals Peter Feldman and Gavin Smith. Feldman bit it first after his bottom pair and an unrealized open-ended straight failed to match wits with Steve Hyvonen's full house. Shortly after - but still too late to make the 1:45 p.m. tee-time a short-stacked Gavin Smith claimed to have made earlier in the day - Birdguts got out of the way thanks to poker player Tony Burton. The flop was 7♦ 5♠ 4♣ and Smith pushed for $4,650. Burton called with two red jacks to cover Smith's pocket nines and, following a T♥ 6♥ on the turn and the river, the Full Tilt pro's Day 1 was over.
And while the playing field continued to shrink thanks to bust-outs by Kessler, Sunar and Young, the stacks of other players swelled exponentially later in the day. Shannon Shorr was out-earning, winning some key pots to boost his stack to $92,000 - just below those of Steven Hyvonen who is first in chips with $146,500 going into Day 2, Gil George who is second with $100,300 and Damian "Just Like the Bubble" Gum who sits third in chips with $93,500.
Only 28 players remain going into Day 2, which will start off with 17 minutes of Level 7 play including a $100 ante and $400/$800 blinds. Action will play down to a final table of nine tomorrow, so stick with PokerListings.com, y'all, because while we might not be Southern folk, we're appropriating their sayings and passing on their famous hospitality to you! Play begins tomorrow at 12 p.m. See you then!