Kornuth, Luongo Get 2012 Main Event Started on Day 1a

Roberto Luongo
Roberto Luongo

The 2012 WSOP Main Event got started with a bang on Saturday with a bigger-than-expected field and some famous faces on the felt.

William John took the overnight chip lead with 266,700 while Chance Kornuth, Michael Tureniec, Eric Baldwin, Faraz Jaka and Sofia Lovgren all finished near the top of the chip counts.

Day 1a is typically the least name-heavy of all the starting days but there were a number of poker pros who decided to make an appearance.

Phil Hellmuth, Greg Mueller, David Williams, Tatjana Pasalic, Matt Stout, Jackie Glazer, Andy Black, Justin Schwartz, Erica Schoenberg, Jay Rosenkrantz, Kathy Liebert and Joe Hachem all got in on the action on Day 1a.

2012 Main Event champ Pius Heinz also began his title defense with a strong effort that saw him bag up about 39,000 chips.

Up 19% from Last Year

There are always questions regarding attendance at the Main Event and the 2012 edition got off to a good start with 1,066 players taking to the felt.

That’s a 19% increase over last year’s Day 1a, which drew 897.

If the trend continues we could be looking at a Main Event with around 7,000 runners and a first-place prize of over $9 million.

There are always celebrities that play the WSOP Main Event and that was certainly the case on Day 1a as actor/comedian Ray Romano took a seat.

Romano is a regular in the Main Event and has played in the last five editions of the tournament.

There was a new famous face in the field today, however, as superstar NHL goaltender Roberto Luongo grabbed a chair and a stack of chips.

Luongo mentioned his passion for poker to us and survived an up-and-down day with about 40,000 chips.

Phil Hellmuth
Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth Makes Unheralded Entrance, Exit

Poker icon Phil Hellmuth – on a whim – decided to play Day 1a of the WSOP Main Event thanks to getting a lot of sleep the night before.

Anyone that’s been following this site for the last few years knows that a Hellmuth Main Event entrance usually goes something like this:

Wait two or three levels and then arrive in the most extravagant ceremony possible usually featuring a plethora of attractive women and a theme like MMA, ancient Rome or NASCAR.

Not so this year.

Hellmuth merely wandered into the Rio after a couple levels and took his seat with little fanfare. Surprisingly Hellmuth busted before the end of play, which means his 2012 is finished.

Hellmuth had some company on the rail, however, as Mueller, Romano, Joe Hachem, Kathy Liebert and Frank Kassela all busted on Day 1a.

All the surviving players from today will return to play Day 2a on Tuesday.

We’ll do this all again tomorrow, as a new batch of players will take to the felt at noon as Day 1a begins. Check our WSOP live updates section for up-to-the-minute news.

Here's a look at the top 10 end-of-day chip counts courtesy of www.wsop.com:

William John - 266,700
Gerardo Lubas - 165,800
Daniel Strelitz - 164,125
Dane Lomas - 157,600
Chance Kornuth - 141,775
Jonathan Cuevas - 141,675
Eric Kurtzman - 136,900
David Randall - 132,750
Vasile Buboi - 132,075
Leo Wolpert - 128,300

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