Kevin Song Leads Day 1C of WSOP 2011 $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em

Kevin SongDay 1C of the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship main event of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas saw a massive leap in numbers entering the main event as 2,181 players registered, although that was still 119 short of last year’s third opening-day field.

Only 710 players were eliminated at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino to leave us with 1,471 to join the 560 Day 1A survivors for a Day 2A total of 2,031.

Poker pro Annie Duke – the 2004 WSOP $2,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or Better champion – got play underway on the third opening day and was joined by comedians Ray Romano and Brad Garrett.

California-based South Korean Kevin Song tops the leaderboard on 163,325 chips, just ahead of Montreal’s Chris McClung on 162,375, while Frenchman Giuseppe Zarbo (150,900), another Canadian, Daniel Skolovy (146,475) and Houston’s Henry Pena (140,800) compete the top five.

Song is aiming for his second WSOP gold bracelet after collecting the $2,000 Limit Hold’em title back in 1997 for $397,120, while he has also recorded an impressive 25 cash finishes in his visits to the series in Las Vegas – including a 50th place in this year’s $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event for $11,903.

Indeed, during his 25-year tournament career, he has amassed an extraordinary $3.2 million in earnings. Maybe he can add a few million more come November…

Day 1C seemed to attract more than the expected number of celebrities, with Romano and Garrett being joined by the likes of Boston Celtics basketball star Paul Pierce, Australian cricket legend Shane Warne, Hungarian model Krisztina Polgar and former British Olympic boxer Audley Harrison, as well as 91-year-old Ellen Deeb – the oldest participant this year.

Unfortunately, Deeb crashed out. However, nine-time NBA All-Star Pierce (62,750) – who had at one point come close to the 100,000 barrier before a late collapse in the final level – Garrett (59,775) and Harrison (8,700) survived to bag up their chips.

Pierce, who claims to be an inexperienced poker player but showed great determination and no little skill to end the day with a sizeable stack, has a simple goal. He is aiming to collect “the prize”. He also added: “Who wouldn’t want to try and come and win that?” Indeed, Paul, who wouldn’t.

Certainly, Denver’s Pratyush Buddiga – the 2002 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion – has his eyes firmly fixed on the big money and a gold bracelet after also making it through the five levels to sit on an impressive 80,600 chips.

Of course, a host of big-name pros also made Day 2A, including former champions Phil Hellmuth (11,800), Jonathan Duhamel (41,150) – last year’s winner – Joe Cada (58,225), Dan Harrington (42,300), Bobby ‘The Owl’ Baldwin (27,500) and Scotty Nguyen (48,325).

Also making it through their opening day were Daniel Negreanu, Ted Forrest, online high stakes star Daniel ‘Jungleman12’ Cates, Adam Junglen, Lauren Kling, Arnaud Mattern, Antonin Teisseire, Jeff Sarwer, Shannon Shorr, Mike Sowers, Amanda Baker, Matt Hawrilenko, Mark Newhouse, Svetlana Gromenkova, Tom McEvoy, Sorel Mizzi, Justin Cohen and Humberto Brenes.

The British contingent also fared well, with JP Kelly heading the likes of Harrison, Barny Boatman, Victoria Coren, John Tabatabai, Neil Channing, Andrew Teng, Praz Bansi, Alex Rousso and Darren Woods.

There were some star casualties, too, with Fabrice Soulier, Jason Somerville, Allen Bari, former main event champion Chris Moneymaker – who is still trying to secure a cash finish since winning in 2003 – and David Singer failing to make Day 2.

Top 10 Day 1C chip leaders at the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship:

1. Kevin Song (South Korea) – 163,325

2. Christopher McClung (Canada) – 162,375

3. Giuseppe Zarbo (France) – 150,900

4. Daniel Skolovy (Canada) – 146,475

5. Henry Pena (USA) – 140,800

6. Aleksandr Mozhnyakov (Russia) – 136,225

7. Don Nguyen (USA) – 136,000

8. Thomas Pohke (Germany) – 135,900

9. Eric Appel (USA) – 128,300

10. Adam Junglen (USA) – 127,025