Tuesday marked the beginning of the first open event of this year's World Series of Poker, but the action has already been hectic. With the conclusion of the Tournament of Champions on Tuesday morning and the continuation of the $500 Casino Employees event, the Amazon Room was packed to the edges with fans and players as Event #2, the first $1,500 No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament, came to the felt.
What was probably the most enjoyable fact of the start of Event #2 was the massed attention of the poker world on the Amazon Room at the Rio. It was a chance for everyone in the poker community to come together and celebrate the game as perhaps the greatest period of the game take place over the next month and a half. Professionals, amateurs and newcomers to the sport all took their seats to get ready to enjoy the wild ride that all will be experiencing for the foreseeable future.
The $1,500 event itself was stretched to the maximum as the field sold out to its capped level of 2,750 players. With only 200 tables in the Amazon Room, however, this brought hordes of alternates who would step in once an unfortunate soul was ejected from the game. It also brought out many of the pros in the game, looking to get ahead quickly at this year's World Series.
It looked like the entirety of Team Full Tilt was represented at the tables as well as Team Ultimate Bet and other professionals such as Humberto Brenes, Liz Lieu and current POY leader Michael Mizrachi. The last two World Champions, defending champ Joseph Hachem and 2004 victor Greg Raymer, were both present for the first event with Raymer amassing a sizeable chip stack. The only other player who could be seen with as many chips was another former World Champion, Carlos Mortensen, as the early level action crept into the evening hours.
There was plenty of opportunity for watching the crowds as the day progressed, however. I was able to catch up with Mike Matusow, the 2005 Tournament of Champions winner and third place finisher in the 2006 TOC, to talk about the previous night. As always, the gregarious Matusow broke down the events from the previous evening and was comfortable with the outcome.
"I really wanted to get aggressive and pound on people, but with the amount of chips we had and the low blinds, it was difficult to do that," he said when we spoke. "When we got to three handed play (with Daniel Negreanu and eventual champion Mike Sexton), I had Daniel on my left and I wanted to get aggressive. Every time I did, though, they fired back. I got a little frustrated with it, but overall I'm happy with the way I played."
Daniel Negreanu had planned to play the first open event this year but, with the Tournament of Champions final table stretching to 6:30 this morning, he opted out of the event. Other players who were participating were beginning to rethink their plans regarding playing every event, as the people I spoke to said the pressures of maintaining an optimum game for the duration of the World Series would be almost impossible. The fields will still be quite impressive, though, as the events continue through July and into August.
Final tables will be scarce for the next couple of days as, with the switch to most events having a three day schedule, there won't be a final table for an open event until Thursday with the $1,500 event that started today. The action will continue to be heavy as players are coming from all over the world to take their shots at glory in this year's tournament or to take in some of the great side action that is happening. It looks like the players are ready to make the 2006 World Series of Poker the best one ever and we should have much to talk about once we come to the end of it on August 10th.
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