But while there were lofty expectations for what they now call the WSOPC Horseshoe Indiana main event - a field of 150 was anticipated -, only 84 players bothered to make the trip to the Hoosier State this time around.
The small numbers mean pieces of a rather tiny $397,400 prize pool are up for grabs here, and only by the final nine players. But while the $137,914 first-place prize may not exactly be life-changing money, none of those players plunking down the $5k buy-in were ready to look that gift horse in the mouth.
Play began just after the scheduled noon start time and even though the field was lacking many of the rich and famous PL.com is used to covering, the quality of play did not seem to suffer. Still, there were at least a few players who didn't seem to notice.
Last year's champion, Carlos Uz, played the kind of maniacally loose-aggressive style that can only indicate a lack of faith in his opponent's abilities and ultimately, he paid the ultimate price for it, getting it in bad in just the third level of play and ensuring we would crown a new champ in Indiana this time around.
WSOPC Indiana spring champ Wilbur Futhey didn't fare much better, missing a combo draw, but shoving anyway, only to be railed when Circuit regular Dean Schultz called with a boat.
Meanwhile, PL.com fave and EPT Copenhagen champ Tim Vance was perhaps guilty of underestimating the competition here in Indiana as well.
Tim, who won a prelim event here last spring only to spend the next six months whining about the fact he never received one of those much-coveted WSOPC rings, got stepped on by one overshoving opponent so many times, the Dupo donkey eventually tilted and called all-in with middle pair - only to find the aggressor had the better hand this time.
All was not lost for tiny little Dupo, Ill., however, with the emergence of Tim's hometown buddy Steve "ArzCARDZfan" Lewis. Lewis put together a solid day en route to a $49,100 chip stack by the time they reached the final 27 and cut play for the night just before 10 p.m. He'll return with the other 26 tomorrow 10th in chips, hovering just above the average stack.
When they do get back on the felt around 12 p.m. ET, everyone will be looking up at one David Kopacz, who followed up a win in a $1k prelim here just a few days ago by finishing Day 1 as the chip leader and the only player above $100k.
An admitted slot machine junkie, David was convinced by his wife Stacy to trade the one-armed bandits in for poker last year when she signed them both up for Phil Hellmuth's poker boot camp. The Brat's advice must be solid, because not only did David wrap the day on top, but amazingly, Stacy sits just $100 short of Day 1 chip runner-up Jamin Stokes on $90,400.
Louisville's Len Ashby, who's been cashing at WSOPC Indiana events since 2005, sits rights behind them and, all Newfie jokes aside, Canadian East Coaster Derek Whelan has $88,600 in chips to round out the top five. Meanwhile, rounding out the top 10 are Kenny Hicks, Chad Hahn, Joey Couden and Bryan Sapp.
If today was any indication, the fight for a spot in the final nine should be quick tomorrow, so tune in early and often to find out who makes the cut. Should the PL.com crew manage to avoid another late night of drunken debauchery on Fourth Street across the river in Louisville, we'll be here to bring you raw and uncensored live updatery at its finest, and you definitely don't want to miss that.