7,319 players stormed the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the first four Day Ones of the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, making it the second largest tournament in the history of the 41 year old institution.
To put this year’s tournament in perspective, only the 2006 WSOP Main Event and its 8,773 player field – held prior to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in the United States later that year – eclipsed the number of players accommodated by the Rio this year. While this year’s Main Event is the second largest tournament in history, the first place prize will not be the second largest in history. Due to the flattened payout structure instituted by Harrah’s and WSOP officials last year, this year’s winner will receive $8,994,138, the third largest payday behind 2006 champion Jamie Gold’s $12 million and 2008 victor Peter Eastgate’s $9,152,416.
Day 1D was by far the largest of the four Day Ones held., as 2,391 players stepped up to take their shot at winning poker’s most cherished championship. Day 1D vastly outpaced the three previous Day Ones (1,125, 1,489, and 2,314 players, respectively), leaving poker fans around the Pavilion and Amazon Rooms of the Rio scrambling to search for their favorite pros.
Former Dallas Cowboy great and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Emmitt Smith issued the call to “shuffle up and deal” before stepping to the felt himself, decked in Full Tilt Poker regalia. Although he made it through the first break, the all-time leading rusher in NFL history didn’t last long at the tables. Joining him on the rail were such professional players as Ante Up For Africa champion Phil Gordon, John Kabbaj, Pamela Brunson, 2005 WSOP final table duo Joseph Hachem and Steve Dannenmann, John Juanda, Sorel Mizzi, and Noah Boeken.
According to statistics from the WSOP website, 1,699 players survived the carnage of the final Day One of the 2010 WSOP, with several notable professionals stepping up to the top of the leaderboard. WSOP bracelet holder Steve “MrSmokey1” Billirakis was able to capture the lead of Day 1D by finishing off the night with 187,150 chips. He is closely pursued by Khamsy Nuanmanee, a 24 year old player from Las Vegas who thrilled the crowd around the Rio with her run up to 170,525 in chips. Others trailing behind this duo on Day 1D include David Benyamine (130,800), Team PokerStars pro Vanessa Rousso (111,050), 2010 bracelet winner Matt Keikoan (105,175), Josh Arieh (103,650), Jason Mercier (90,525), and 2010 WSOP Player of the Year contender Frank Kassela (87,000).
The remaining 5,129 players in the 2010 WSOP Main Event will now proceed to play over the next two days. Days 1A and 1C will be hitting the felt Friday afternoon for Day 2A, with roughly 2,400 players scheduled to meet again for battle. Corwin Cole looks to be the overall leader for the four Day Ones with 228,200 in chips, but there are a host of challengers that await him in the Top Ten of Day 2A alone.
Sitting in fourth place at the start of Day 2A is the last man to win back-to-back WSOP Main Event titles, Johnny Chan, stacked with 163,700 in chips, top female professional Lauren Kling (149,650) in seventh, Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman (144,050) in eighth, and $50,000 Player’s Championship winner Michael Mizrachi holding down the tenth place slot with his 142,650 in chips. Others who will be looking to move up the leaderboard on Day 2A include Hoyt Corkins (129,150), defending WSOP Europe Main Event champion Barry Shulman (113,325), recent PokerStars signee David Williams (112,225) and former World Champion Chris Moneymaker (107,425).
After play today and Saturday, the field should be cut down to roughly 2,500 survivors. The WSOP Main Event will then take a break on Sunday before bringing the remaining warriors back for action on Monday. Then, players will attempt to reach 747th place, the first position that will be paid at this year’s Main Event.