The Grand Casino in Tunica, MS, the current stop in the World Series of Poker Circuit series, saw its Main Event begin on Saturday with 180 hopefuls chasing what would be announced as a $1,350,000 purse with a $428,210 first-place prize. By day's end, all but 29 of those hopefuls had been eliminated, though those that remained when play resumed today included reigning WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider, Josh Arieh, Vanessa Rousso, Lee Markholt and 'Captain' Tom Franklin. Mark Garner ended the opening day's action with the lead, at 263,500 in chips.
Early attention focused on many of the big names in the field, which included Gavin Smith, Kathy Liebert, John Phan, Alex Jacob, Bill Edler, Michael Mizrachi and Chad Brown. None of those survived the day's action, and a similar fate awaited other stars. The list of those exiting during Day 1 also included David 'Devilfish' Ulliott, Darrell Dicken, Brett Jungblut, Gavin Griffin and Allen Kessler.
Smith was one of the day's earlier eliminations, getting the last of his chips in good with K-Q on a queen-high, two-spade flop, but being bounced by an opponent with the nut-flush draw who caught the needed spade for the knockout. Phan's exit came soon after being crippled by Garner; down to 2,600 in chips, Phan pushed with and found two callers for the price, one of whom had and connected when the river brought a jack.
Ulliott and Brown, who at one time was in or near the lead, were among the day's later casualties. After dropping several big pots, Brown exited when he ended up all in with K-2 against the K-Q of Spencer Hudson, and when the board brought no help to either player, Brown's day was complete. The 'Devilfish' was one of the day's final eliminations, sent to the rail by Rousso. In that hand, Rousso open-limped from early position, was called by chipleader Garner, and then Ulliott pushed all in for his last 14,200 in chips. Rousso re-raised to 28,400 and Garner folded, leaving Rousso's against Ulliott's . The flop missed both players and the turn left Ulliott drawing dead and on the way to the rail.
Today's play will see the field move well inside the 18-player money bubble and establish the final-table lineup. The top ten after the opening day's action were:
Mark Garner — 263,500
John Devia — 250,500
Dale Morrow — 240,500
Jesse Dean — 220,500
Charles Horvath — 205,000
Vanessa Rousso — 180,500
Spencer Hudson — 177,500
Giovanni Maracci — 166,500
Dustin Bailey — 165,000
Josh Arieh — 152,000