Wednesday's action at the WSOP brought a scheduling oddity as three separate events played their final tables, together awarding millions of dollars in prize money. Each of the events had at least one well-known poker star, none of whom would claim a gold bracelet at night's end.
The biggest buzz was attached to the final of Event #21, the $1,500 No-Limit Shootout tourney. Despite a field peppered with big names, it was unlikely that two of the very biggest — Daniel Negreanu and Erick Lindgren — would both make the Wednesday final. The unlikely did occur, however, and the shootout finale was swapped in as the day's 'Bluff Tent' special, set for filming and the one-hour-delayed broadcast over the Internet.
The hoped-for duel between Lindgren and Negreanu didn't materialize. Lindgren was technically the chip leader after capturing some early blinds, but took a big hit early and was never close to the lead again. Negreanu, though, won a couple of early races and moved out to a commanding lead, only to see some of those same races go the other way and have his chip lead (and title chances) disappear. Negreanu finished third, eliminated by the eventual winner, Don Baruch. Baruch's come-from-behind triumph over one of poker's very best brought him a $264,107 payday as well.
If it wasn't going to be Negreanu or Lindgren making headlines, perhaps it was Greg Raymer's turn. Raymer made the final table in Event #20, the Seven Card Stud High/Low event, starting the day in a solid third position with several short stacks at the table likely to be vanquished early on. Raymer played a hand in narrowing the field, and, like Negreanu, moved into a sizeable chip lead. And like Negreanu (although this event technically occurred a bit earlier), Raymer saw the lead evaporate, and bowed at the hands of the eventual winner. Here that winner was Ryan Hughes, who claimed $176,358 and the bracelet for the victory.
The third gold bracelet of the day was awarded in Event #19, $2,500 No Limit Hold 'Em. This one had plenty of subplots, with European star Lars Bonding holding the lead after both Days One and Two, Humberto Brenes making his third final table of the '07 WSOP, and other stars such as former gamer Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, John 'The Razor' Phan and Devin 'TranquilChaos' Porter in the hunt. The plotline no one expected was that the shortest stack of all at the final table, Francois Safieddine, would come through for the victory. Safieddine survived the early battles and built a sizable lead before dispatching Phan on a rivered two-outer, cracking Phan's aces. Safieddine's unexpected triumph was worth $521,785.
Only one other event was scheduled on something of a quiet day for the WSOP. Event #22, $5,000 No Limit Hold 'Em, drew a high-profile crowd and produced one of the biggest first-day breakouts of the WSOP to date. Dustin 'John Smiley' Derksen finished the opening day's action with almost 380,000 in chips, but the top ten alone includes Tex Barch, Dustin Woolf, Nick Schulman and others, with Kathy Liebert, T.J. Cloutier, Allen Cunningham and others also chasing. Action here resumes at 2pm PDT today.
Two events begin today. The noon starter is Event #23, $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha, and at 5pm Event #24, $5,000 Seven Card Stud High/Low, gets underway. The latest updates are always available in the 'Live Reporting' section here on PokerNews.com.