The forecast was all doom and gloom before the 42nd World Series of Poker (WSOP) got underway on Tuesday following ‘Black Friday’ and, although Phil Ivey has refused to play, it appears that the majority of big-name poker players have made their way to Las Vegas.
The $500 buy-in Casino Employees no-limit hold’em event kicked off the WSOP, but it was the $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino that really got things going as it somehow managed to gain a $3 million prize pool from 128 entries, although that is 50% less than the 256 who entered last year’s $10,000 version.
Not that many of those playing will be too worried, though, as the winner will pick up $851,192, with the runner-up taking $525,980 and cashes for the last 16.
Additionally, tournament No.3, the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, attracted a record entry as 925 registered, which is 107 – or almost 13% – more than last year.
Still, the Casino Employees tournament did attract a rather healthy 850 players – which is 129, or about 18%, more than last year – to create a prize pool of $382,500. The leading 81 players will cash, with the champion collecting over $82,000 and a bracelet.
While many poker stars did turn up – including Patrik Antonius, Daniel Alaei, Vanessa Rousso, Erick Lindgren, Carlos Mortenson, Barry Shulman, Tom Dwan, Erik Seidel and John Juanda – others were notable by their absence.
These include Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer, although they may yet appear for later events. But Ivey will most certainly not appear after his fall out with Full Tilt Poker.
The first $1,000 event arrives on Saturday, so it is probably only then that we can gain a real appreciation of how ‘Black Friday’ has affected attendance figures when that No-Limit Hold’em tournament begins.
Meanwhile, although Omaha hi-low split-8 or better is considered the least interesting form of poker, players such as Barry Greenstein, Jimmy Fricke, Daniel Negreanu, Jeffrey Lisandro, Jason Mercier, Phil Hellmuth and Max Pescatori signed up for the event. Starting with 4,500 chip stacks, Fricke now sits on 47,600 in seventh place while Greenstein has amassed a healthy 47,800 for sixth.
Also, Costa Rican Humberto Brenes – a PokerStars Pro – has just snuck into the top 10 after day one of the event on 44,000 chips to remain right in contention, along with 209 others.
A total of 90 players are guaranteed just under $3,000, while final table participants will be awarded no less than $20,000, although they’ll all be hoping to take home the WSOP bracelet the $262,283 top prize.
The top 10 chip leaders after day one of the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event:
1. Guillaume Rivet – 71,200
2. Andy Seth – 61,700
3. Rich Monroe – 60,000
4. Cary Falk – 56,000
5. Mike Rahmn – 54,000
6. Barry Greenstein – 47,800
7. Jimmy Fricke – 47,600
8. Francesco ‘Cheech’ Barbaro – 47,000
9. Michael Jensen – 46,000
10. Humberto Brenes – 44,000