The 2007 World Series of Poker kicked off bright and early on June 1st with several hundred players waiting for official WSOP play. As the $5000 World Championship Mixed Games event was playing alongside the traditional start of the WSOP — the $500 Casino Employees event — it meant that for the first time on WSOP's opening day, we had two events running simultaneously. While this seemed to be a good thing, long registration lines raised the ire of the players involved.
The first argument, though, was raised by players over the new 'Poker Peek' cards provided by U.S. Playing Card Company. From the start of the event, the players railed against the cards; Mike Matusow was heard to exclaim, "Did you see these cards? You can't see the cards! Where's Jeffrey Pollack?" Matusow wasn't the only one to have an issue about the cards. The new cards were replaced by normal KEM cards approximately three hours into the event, something that may well also occur in future events.
An added factor was the WPT event across town at the Mandalay Bay. That event was wrapping up as the World Series began and it provided some intrigue as two players there were also playing in this event. Ryan Daut, the winner of the 2007 WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, was the first to arrive after he went out of the Mandalay Bay event in ninth place. After a great deal of time (and finishing on the television bubble), Barry Greenstein was also able to make it to the WSOP with enough chips to still survive into the second day's play.
Some players requested their buy-ins back due to the card issue, and the official list of entrants was set at 452 for the $5000 Mixed Game event. The half-'n'-half event (split between limit and no-limit Hold'em) provided the crowd that gathered in the Amazon Room an interesting look at how the game of poker can be played. Much of the action was pushed to the no-limit area of the game rather than the limit side because no-limit provided much more opportunity to maximize on strong hands. With that said, the players who came to the felt had to play both sides strongly to get deep in such a solid field.
Both Gus 'The Great Dane' Hansen and (as expected) Phil Hellmuth were late arrivals to a field that also included former World Champions Doyle Brunson (who exclaimed about the cards, "What the hell are these?"), Johnny Chan, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, Andy Black, Phil Ivey and T. J. Cloutier, among others. The larger-than-normal buy-in succeeded in bringing out many of poker's biggest names.
As play moved into the night, the professionals fell by the wayside. Soon after the dinner break, Chris Ferguson was vanquished from the tables. In the later going, Phil Ivey, David 'DevilFish' Ulliott, Freddy Deeb and Nam Le were also ushered out the doors of the Amazon Room (at least for this tournament). At the end of the day, the Top Ten in chips were arranged as such:
PLAYER — CHIPS
Greg 'FBT' Mueller — 130,000
Frank Kassela — 121,500
Sabyl Cohen — 118,500
Louis Werman — 110,500
Mark Teltscher — 100,500
John Kroshvs — 93,000
John Younger — 91,500
Kirk Morrison — 90,500
Alex Bolotin — 88,000
Joseph Tehan — 87,500
In the hunt behind these players are double bracelet winner Eric Froehlich, Todd Brunson, Josh Arieh and two women players of note, Vanessa Rousso and Isabelle Mercier. Day Two, with less than 100 players remaining, will definitely be a battle for the first bracelet at this year's World Series of Poker, which will be crowned on Sunday.