The day began with those 111 players lucky enough to survive Day 1a of play picking up their new seating assignments and finding their place in the Empire, be it at the feature table, the second-floor balcony or in the crowded confines of the "Poker Pantry" in the basement of the facility. Among those returning for a second round were former World Champions Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, as well as Jennifer Harman, Gus Hansen, Humberto Brenes, Annie Duke and French superstar-at-life Patrick Bruel.
The plan, as these things go, was to play four two-hour levels before calling it quits once more, although with the money bubble at 36 organizers would have to be careful not to let the numbers of flight A dwindle too low before those of flight B had a chance to self-busticate.
As it turned out, Tournament Director Jack Effel wouldn't have to worry about such things, although his charges would certainly reduce their numbers by a substantial degree before play's end. Leading things off for the eliminati was Thomas Wahlroos, who suffered from a seating assignment with the likes of Greg Raymer, Vicky Coren, Hoyt Corkins, Erick Lindgren, Brian "sbrugby" Townsend and Annette "Annette15" Obrestad, and who got all-in early with J♣ J♥ against Bruno Fitoussi's Q♣ Q♥ with two others having already folded J-x. Good times, he gone.
Sorel Mizzi, Fabrice Soulier and Erik Seidel would continue the march to the rail before Phil Hellmuth lay a wicked beat on Our Lord and Savior Chris Ferguson, who shoved with A-Q and looked good against the Poker Brat's A-10. The door card, however, brought another ten and Jesus couldn't recover, ascending to the rail after barely one level of action.
Following Jesus to the rail would be Brian Townsend, Barry Greenstein and Thor Hansen, the latter of whom had the good fortune to get away from the feature table before Gus Hansen started turning his game up. Immediately after the Norse God of Tight-Aggressive Play hit the exit his Danish namesake started an egregious killing spree, laying out the likes of Josh Gould and Nuno Geraldes in one hand and then straight dominating a table that included such familiar faces as Tom "Durr" Dwan, Harman, Coren, Ram Vaswani and the aforementioned Raymer.
French superstar-at-life Patrick Bruel would join Beth Shak and Paul Wasicka in getting an early jump at the buffet lines, while a few tables away Phil Hellmuth was on the upswing of what would be a roller-coaster day for the Great Man. Hellmuth would overheat on multiple occasions throughout the day, at one point losing to set-over-set for what appeared to be the first time in his life to find himself crippled, but recuperating sufficiently to ask Erick Lindgren out for dinner, promising three (3) £800 bottles of champagne in exchange for good company.
The end of dinner would mark the beginning of the final level of the night, and it would also mark the moment when the slumbering volcano known as Gus Hansen would reawaken to strike terror in the hearts of his tablemates. Hansen, already sitting on the largest stack at the table, would bust his two closest competitors in rapid succession to jump to the top of the chip leaderboard in a matter of minutes.
First, Hansen did away with Greg Raymer, having flopped a full house with sevens on a 7-5-5 board and then having the good fortune to see the Fossilman open-shove for his last $30,000 on the turn (a four) with naught but a draw to the ace-high flush. A few minutes later, Ram Vaswani would get all-in with A-Q for around $40,000 and the Great Dane would happily call with pocket kings. No surprises on the board and the Gobbo-killer was the tournament's first $300,000 man.
Humberto Brenes and Paul Jackson would find themselves evicted from their spaces at the preliminary tables before Hansen struck again, eliminating Chris Bjorin on the last hand of the night, calling the Borg's all-in with A-10 to CB's K-J. Once again, a friendly board would bless the Great Dane, and he'd further augment his stack to bring the end of day total to a nice $349,400.
Other contenders for top spot on the leaderboard are Janne Lamsa, far behind with $253,800, as well as Pat Scanlon with $240,000 and Annette Obrestad with $214,400. Annie Duke finished in fifth on Day 2a with $191,700, while other notable names still in the hunt include Erick Lindgren ($108,800), David Colclough ($105,800), Durr ($70,600), Hoyt Corkins ($61,200), the Denimic Duo of Jennifer Harman and Marco Traniello ($42,200 and $45,700 respectively), Vicky Coren ($39,500), Jeffrey Lisandro ($31,100) and everyone's friend Phil Hellmuth, still above ground with $10,500 to his name.
The rest of the field will reconvene tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time for their own four levels of heaven, with Patrik Antonius leading the charge and Stephen Spencer bringing up the rear. PokerListings.com will return at an identical hour, playing the role of Antonius whilst our competition plays it Spencer style, so keep it locked right here as we pwn them n00bs. Lolz.