Poker News

The final flight of the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event Day 1 wrapped up Sunday night with Charlotte, North Carolina’s Maynard “Mory” Little emerging as the chip leader of Day 1D, with a stack of 179,450 chips.  That total ranked him as the third biggest stack out of the four end-of-day chip leaders, though out of all the players from all four starting days, he ranks “just” fourth.

While Little and his fellow chip leaders have plenty to smile about coming out of the weekend, not everyone is preparing for Day 2.  Amongst the recognizable names who bowed out on Sunday are John Juanda, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Tom Marchese, Prahlad Friedman, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Antonio Esfandiari, Jennifer Tilly, Frank Kassella, Ivan Demidov, and David Williams.  Many well-known pros will be back for Day 2B, though, including Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Barry Greenstein, Freddy Deeb, Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, Men “The Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros, J.C. Tran, and former Main Event champs Robert Varkonyi and Joe Hachem.

The overall chip leader is Las Vegas resident Fred Berger, who won the 2010 WSOP Circuit Championship at Harrah’s New Orleans.  He will start Monday’s Day 2A with 209,500 chips.  In the “modern era” of the WSOP (2003 and after), only one Day 1 chip leader has gone on to win the Main Event.  Joe Cada did it in 2009, starting the second day with 187,225 chips (2009 was the first year that players began with 30,000 chips).

While many thought that the Main Event numbers would be significantly down from previous years because of all the problems going on in the online poker world, the final player tally ended up to be quite strong.  With 2,809 players registering for the final starting day, the grand total across all four “Day Ones” came out to 6,865.  That places the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event as the third largest of all time, behind 2006, which was during the peak of the internet poker boom (8,773 players) and 2010 (7,319).  As usual, the two most popular starting days were 1C and 1D, both of which eclipsed 2,000 runners.  People tend to wait until the final two days to play for time and money reasons.  Should someone play on Day 1A or 1B and survive to Day 2, that would result in multiple days to wait to play again, meaning more days off of work (for those who aren’t pro poker players) and more money spent on lodging, meals, and possibly entertainment.  Day 1C players are able to save those couple days while still having a day to rest before Day 2, while Day 1D players just roll right into Monday without worrying about any extra time away from home that doesn’t involve playing in the Main Event.

It may still be puzzling to some, however, that the final numbers turned out to be so good.  Many thought that with the biggest U.S.-facing online poker rooms shutting out Americans after Black Friday, there would be fewer online qualifiers.  Plus, the millions of dollars of online bankroll still limbo means that many players don’t have the funds to buy-in to the $10,000 tournament.  One prevailing theory, though, is that because online options have become so drastically limited to American players, those that do have enough of a bankroll (and remember, everyone has been able to cash out of PokerStars) have decided that the best way to scratch that poker itch is to play in the World Series of Poker.  So, at the very least, that balances out the loss of online qualifiers.

The field of 6,865 means that the total prize pool amounts to $64,531,000.  First prize will be $8,711,956, which will actually only be the fourth largest grand prize of all time.  The reason it is not the third largest is because WSOP officials flattened the payout structure slightly a couple years ago, giving a smaller (yet still healthy) percentage to the top finishers, but more to those who just make the money.  As a point of reference, this year’s field is just 21 players larger than when Peter Eastgate won the Main Event in 2008, but his prize was over $400,000 more than what the winner will receive this year.

A total of 693 players will see a payday later this week, with those squeaking into the money almost doubling their buy-in.  While good money is to be had with even a few hundred players left, it is not until there are 72 players remaining that the prize money will hit six figures.  All players at the final tables will receive a minimum of $378,796 and the final eight will all become millionaires, if they aren’t already.

Here are the November Nine payouts:

1. $8,711,956
2. $5,430,928
3. $4,019,635
4. $3,011,661
5. $2,268,909
6. $1,720,396
7. $1,313,851
8. $1,009,910
9. $782,115

Play will resume on Monday at noon Pacific time as the 2,031 remaining players from Days 1A and 1C combine for Day 2A.

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