The Amazon Room was once again packed with players as the Main Event continued on with its second of four First Days. Around noon on Saturday, the tables were filled with ten players and the cards hit the air to determine who would be able to come back next week for one of the two Day Twos that will take place. As was the case yesterday, there were several professionals who were a part of the action.
The main stage was a little odd, however. Instead of the full complement of ten players, only nine started play. There were quizzical looks throughout the audience as they tried to determine who would be the person that would take over the chair. Sure enough, after two hours of play, 1989 World Champion Phil Hellmuth came to the stage and took his seat (making his usual late arrival for the first day of tournament action).
Hellmuth was quite calm as he started play for the day. Apparently winning bracelet #10 has put the poker great into a peaceful state as he talked and joked with the players at his table. This didn't sidetrack him from reclaiming the chips that had left his stack before his arrival and, only about an hour after he came to the tournament, he was back up to the starting level of 10,000 chips and was looking for more.
As the action continued, I strolled the aisles of the Amazon Room to take in more of the event. Just as it had been on Friday, the pros were very well spaced out and some were doing fairly well in the early going. 2000 World Champion Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was on the same felt as English poker professional David Colclough, but other tables only had one pro and most tables were filled with unknowns who may become well-known if they can continue deep into the Main Event.
Bracelet winners from this year's preliminary action were well represented during Saturday's action. Jason Lester and Rafe Furst were in action near each other but drawing the most attention from the fans in attendance was double bracelet winner Jeff Madsen. The 21 year old wunderkind was already making quick moves up the leader board, doubling up his starting stack within about four hours after play had begun. Madsen says that he will be heading back to college after he completes the World Series but, after winning almost two million dollars in the last month, perhaps he could have a nice career as a poker player!
We also found out the winner of the prop bet between Joe Sebok and Gavin Smith. For those who haven't heard about the bet, the person with the best record in the Texas Hold 'Em tournaments during the World Series would dictate what the other would wear for the first few days of the event (or until they busted out). Both were in action today and, while Gavin was attired in his Full Tilt gear, Joe was sitting at the poker table in a bear costume (think of Conan O'Brien's late night television program when I mention the bear and you'll have an idea what Joe was looking like). "Yeah, I lost," Joe smiled and said when I looked at him. The bear suit didn't look like it was affecting his game, however, as Joe was doing pretty well as the day worked along.
As the play continued on into Saturday night, there was still a wealth of pros that were staying alive. The legendary Doyle Brunson was one of those people, along with Annie Duke, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Humberto Brenes and David "The DevilFish" Ulliot. There were even celebrities in the house, as actress Shannon Elizabeth and adult film star Ron Jeremy were playing (and doing well) as the day wore along.
These players will join the survivors from the first Day One when these two days are combined on Tuesday for the first of two Day Twos. But even once Saturday ends, there are still two more Day Ones to play out (which will come back and play on Wednesday). For those who don't survive their particular Day One, next week will bring five tournaments that are official bracelet events. As you can see, the poker action continues to be incredible as the Main Event continues to roll along towards the August 10th final table.