The $5,000 Limit Hold'em Event #18 got underway at 5:00PM (PST) Sunday afternoon and due to its impressive field of poker powerhouses, drew plenty of railbirds looking for autographs. Although not as dramatic as No Limit Hold'em or Omaha, the Limit event brought out just as many big name players as the previous 2007 World Series of Poker No Limit tournaments.
This exciting opportunity to win a bracelet brought out one of toughest group of players to see action at this year's WSOP as Marcel Luske (making his 2007 WSOP debut), Howard Lederer, Daniel Alaei, Doyle Brunson, Eric Froelich, Joe Sebok, Phil "Unabomber" Laak, Greg "FBT" Mueller, Ted Forrest, Minh Ly, and Barry Greenstein.
Due to the star-packed field several monster tables were put together, but the toughest table award goes to Table 14. Battling it out at Table 14 were Event #17 players Sabyl Cohen and Vanessa Russo, NBC Heads-Up champion and WSOP bracelet owner, Ted Forrest, Internet phenom Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo, WSOP Main Event winner Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, and high-stakes cash game player, Eli Elezra.
In what might be the toughest field of the 2007 WSOP to date, almost every table had a big name player, as 257 players battled throughout the long day for a chance at the $1,207,900 prize pool, a WSOP bracelet and a first-place cash of $333,379.
The biggest story of the tournament is the strong play of poker's living legend, Doyle Brunson. After arriving late for the start of the event, Brunson took his seat and literally began running over the table. While discussing topics like how many bags of skittles he eats before bed time (2) and joking around with Clonie Gowen, "Texas Dolly" made his move to the top of the chip count. Looking for his record-setting 11th WSOP bracelet, the $5,000 Limit tournament may be Brunson's biggest chance to stay one step ahead of Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan (10 WSOP wins each) in the WSOP bracelet race.
Another interesting story of Day One's play came from several players who were "multi-tabling" the WSOP. Although much more common in online play, David Benyamine, Darrell Dicken, David Chiu, and Daniel Negreanu were seen playing both the $5,000 Limit and the $2,500 H.O.R.S.E. events. Although some may consider this bizarre as concentrating on one WSOP tournament can be taxing enough, for experts like Benyamine, who can be found on Full Tilt playing as many as eight of the biggest stakes cash games in the world at one time, it appeared to be just another day on the job.
Despite the number of professional players in the tournament, as expected, the Limit action moved much slower than the No Limit events. Several interesting conversations popped up at various tables as players tried to pass the time, including one in which Chris Ferguson discussed his freeroll play on Full Tilt. Ferguson explained to Ted Forrest that he was trying to build a bankroll of $10,000 by playing freerolls and that he was playing his heart out in the process. Considering playing one freeroll is enough to drive most poker players mad, one has to wonder if Ferguson will keep his sanity in the process. Ferguson may however have the last laugh over his detractors though, as he has made enough money ($660) from freerolls to move up to the $.50/$1.00 cash games.
Going into Day Two of play, Thomas Wahlroos leads the pack with 58,100 chips, but is followed closely by Brunson, Andrew Prock, Ed Fernandez, Kirk Conrad, Davood Mehrmand, WSOP bracelet owner Max Pescatori, and the always talkative, Tony G.
Top Ten Chip Counts
Thomas Wahlroos 58,100
John Younger 55,000
James Gorham 53,600
Frank Kassela 51,100
Brandon Wong 50,600
Andrew Prock 49,900
Doyle Brunson 49,900
Kirk Conrad 48,300
Saro Getzoyan 46,600
Raul Paez 45,800
Make sure to check back with this event's blog for Monday's $5,000 Limit Day Two action at 3:00PM (PST).