But while the start of play was about all the big names, the day truly belonged to one of the biggest.
Team Poker Stars Pro Daniel Negreanu was one of the 203 players who got rolling inside The Casino at The Empire in a rather day-after-the-night-before-looking Leicester Square this afternoon. But by the time they had waded through five two-hour levels of play, he sat at the top of the 97 survivors with close to $150k in chips.
Early on in the day, Kid Poker told PL.com he's loving his time in London because it has more to offer the discerning vegan eater than any other place in the world. Well, it turns out a well-fed Negreanu is also a dangerous one, as he tore up opponents throughout the day, catching cards and picking off a series of senseless Euro-donk bluffs to stay close to the top of the leaderboard.
During one break in play today, the media-savvy consummate pro did a TV interview explaining how he'd been watching one player at his table get a little too frisky and was patiently waiting for a spot to trap him. Just a few hands after the break Danny woke up with jacks, turned a set and could only laugh when that very same player shoved into him with bottom pair.
Negreanu had such a good day, when the other 96 survivors from today join the 86 from yesterday to start Day 2 around 1 p.m. London time Monday, they'll all be looking up at him and combined Day 1 chip leader Justin Smith, who sit within a few thousand of one another.
If you haven't heard of Jamie "Chronic420" Rosen, you haven't been reading enough PL.com Live Tournaments coverage, because we've been on this kid since he debuted at the 2008 WSOP with a final-table appearance in the first $1k rebuy and a final-table bubble in the other.
Rosen also regularly kills the hotly contested $200 rebuy on PokerStars, but proved today he can play a little freezeout when necessary. Right from the outset people were handing Jamie chips, including one player who shoved into his flopped flush with the old no-pair and no-draw drawing dead play - never a smart one.
Jean-Robert Bellande also had trouble surviving the Rosen onslaught, putting all his chips at risk with top-top and finding Rosen's pocket kings unbeatable. For most of the day and night, despite misleading reports from the official chip count providers, Rosen led the way, and only a late pot or two picked up by Negreanu got in the way of his $140k taking the day.
Regardless, Rosen will come into Day 2 third in chips and looking to prove he doesn't need to rebuy.
Yet another online phenom, David "Raptor" Benefield, ended the day right behind Negreanu and Rosen on better than $120k. He joins a group of big-stacked big names that includes Marco Traniello, Roland De Wolfe, Brian Townsend, Nenad Medic, Johnny Lodden, Jennifer Tilly and the Devilfish, who all had big days and remain a threat to take a little WSOPE gold home.
Coming off his second-place finish in the PLO here just a few days ago and her win in this very event in 2007, there were some lofty hopes for the WSOPE title sponsor's two sponsored pros.
However, things didn't go quite as well as planned for Betfair Poker's Sorel Mizzi. The Toronto boy, who went to the very same high school as Daniel Negreanu (and this PL.com reporter), overplayed A-K, running into pocket rockets to go broke.
Before things got rolling, Betfair Poker's other superstar, Annette Obrestad, told PL.com she was feeling the pressure of having to defend her 2007 WSOPE Main Event title. But she certainly didn't play scared, getting it all the way up above $50k at one point to sit among the top 10 chip leaders, despite some tough competition at the ESPN feature table including the aforementioned Laak, Esfandiari, Traniello and Lodden.
In the end, though, the champ went down, losing a sizable pot to Laak when he rivered a boat against her and finally bowing out when her kings were three-outed by an opponent's A-Q.
Annette wasn't alone on the rail though, as top pros like Gavin Smith, Gus Hansen, Esfandiari and 2008 WSOPE PLO winner Theo Jorgensen joined her there today. As did Carlos Mortensen, John Phan, Allen Cunningham, Mike "Timex" McDonald, Brandon Cantu and a host of others.
In the meantime, Brits Neil Channing and Mel Judah and Living Legend Doyle Brunson headline a gaggle of pros who survived the day, but who'll need to get something going Monday if they want to turn that same trick again.
Plus, in the middle of the pack sit Team Poker Stars pro Daniel Negreanu, November Niner "Chino" Rheem and 2007 WSOPE Main Event second-place finisher John Tabatabai, all within one double-up of becoming a serious threat and with the proven poker chops to make it happen.
To find out exactly what 179 poker players digging for WSOPE gold looks like, hit up the PL.com Live Updates all day tomorrow. We'll be here for the entirety of Day 2 and we can't think of one valid reason why you shouldn't join us.