Online grinders flock to WSOP's $40k event

Sick Table!
Among the deadly tables in the 40th Anniversary tournament.

The 2009 WSOP kicked off today with the 40th Annual No Limit Hold'em tournament and among the familiar faces at the tables there are a number of surprises.

As befits an event with a $40,000 buy-in, Jonathan Little and Shawn Buchanan are all among the approximately 200 players in contention.

But while those youngsters have managed to translate their online successes into victories in big buy-in live events, players like Shaun Deeb, Adam Junglen, Christian "charder" Harder and Chad "lilholdem" Batista remain best-known by their internet personas.

None of them, however, feels out of their league in this pro-rich event.

"My table's really easy," Batista told

Chad Batista
Does not respect his elders!

He's sharing space with Erick Lindgren, Phil Laak, Ted Forrest and Steve Zolotow and has seen his stack take a beating in the early going.

"I would really like my edge if I could get my chips back," he said.

"There are a couple of guys at my table who are playing as if it's their first tournament ever," said PokerListings blogger Jason Mercier.

Harder and Junglen both told PokerListings they liked their chances.

"My edge can't be that big, but I wouldn't be playing if I didn't think I had a positive expectation," said Junglen.

Harder agreed.

"I think I have an edge, but it's probably the smallest edge I'll have all Series," he said.

"I would obviously rather play against the kind of players who play in the $1,500 tournaments, but it's more fun and exciting to play against pros like these.

"It's my first WSOP and I wanted to start it off with a bang."

Christian Harder
Holla back, young 'un!

None of the online young guns were surprised to see so many of their number in attendance.

"There are a lot of good young online players here at the Series and a lot of people who are willing to back them in tournaments," said Deeb.

"This is the biggest tournament of the Series and it's televised, so that probably helps attract players as well."

"The number of online MTT players seems alright to me," said Junglen. "I'm not surprised.

"There are a lot of really good No Limit Hold 'em players that the general public isn't aware of and that the media might not be aware of either."

At press time, the top of the chip leaderboard was a mix of live pros and their online counterparts, with Laak and Rajkumar dueling for top spot and the likes of Justin Bonomo and Michael DeMichele lurking in the wings.

The news wasn't so good for Harder, however, who was eliminated early in Level 3 after getting all-in preflop with a suited ace-jack against Jay Rosenkrantz's pocket jacks.

Get full coverage of this exciting event in the WSOP section.

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