The marathon of the 2018 World Series of Poker Championship Event ambled on Thursday, with the combined Day 1A and 1B fields coming together. By the end of the action, California’s Shawn Daniels – who has cashed in the last two “Main Events” – was holding the lead with over a half-million chips in his possession.

Event #65 – $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship Event – “The Main Event”

2460 players from the Day 1A and 1B starting days came back for another taste of WSOP action on Thursday, looking to be “The One” who would become poker’s next champion. The chip leaders for those two days, Smain Mamouni and (it was thought) Timothy Lau, were poised to be favorites to move on. But a strange story emerged regarding Lau.

Lau, who reported 338,700 in chips to lead the Day 1A players (and temporarily hold the overall lead until Day 1C played), apparently had a bit of a problem in counting his markers. According to reporting by ESPN broadcast on the air on Thursday night, Lau’s stack was actually 200K LOWER than what it actually was. WSOP officials decided against punishing Lau in some manner and Lau seemed to make it an innocent mistake; he would power his way through the Day 2A festivities to a 442,100 stack, making up for the innocent mistake he made.

The news wasn’t so good for one of the favorites from the 2017 WSOP, John Hesp. The effervescent Englishman made it through to Day 2A, but it would be as far as he would go. His table was a magnet for fans of the game (and the ESPN cameras), but he would be unable to ride that wave of support to another deep Main Event run. Hesp would get his final chips in after he hit top pair/top kicker on a flop with Big Slick, but his opponent would hold the remaining two Aces in the deck for a flopped set. After the formality of the turn and the river brought no rescue, the fan favorite was out of the “Main Event.”

There were several comrades waiting on the rail to console last year’s fourth place finisher in the Main Event. Former World Champions Joe Hachem and Ryan Riess, two-time “November Niner” Antoine Saout, eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel, Tony Dunst and Gaelle Baumann were just a handful of the names that won’t be around for Saturday’s action. One thing that is for sure is that Daniels will be a part of the action.

Daniels hid in the massive Amazon room for most of the day, only making his move in the last level of the evening. That move would also prove to be one that barely eked him into the lead by a slim 1500 chip margin over Eric Liebeler, putting the two men on to Day 3 at the top of the 1131 players who will come back on Saturday:

1. Shawn Daniels, 532,500
2. Eric Liebeler, 531,000
3. Samuel Bernabeu, 524,000
4. Michael Dyer, 502,400
5. Casey McCarrel, 501,800
6. Brian Borne, 496,000
7. Frank Bonacci, 486,300
8. David Cabrera, 483,800
9. Smain Mamouni, 481,500
10. Mohammed Mokrani, 480,000

Notable names that will also be a part of the combined Day 3 field on Saturday include poker’s latest “it” couple, Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell, 2015’s “Last Woman Standing” Kelly Minkin, and former World Champions Chris Ferguson, Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen and Greg Merson.

These players will sit back on Friday as the Day 2B battle commences. The roughly 3500 survivors from the record largest single day in WSOP history (4571 players) will be in the Amazon and Brasilia Rooms at 11AM (Pacific Time), with the action being broadcast on a “live delayed” basis on ESPN2 at 8:30PM (Eastern Time). With the total number of players in this Day 2B field, however, there is still a long way to go before the money bubble pops in the 2018 World Series of Poker Championship Event.

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