98 men and one woman took to the felt yesterday at the Horseshoe in Council Bluffs, Iowa to vie for the World Series of Poker Circuit Championship ring and a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event, with notable players such as Brandon Cantu, Bernard Lee and WSOP bracelet winner Bob Slezak joining the field. By the end of the night, only 27 players remained, with Howard Walper leading the survivors.
The lone female entrant in the event was Lou Merwick, who won two satellite seats into the main event of the Council Bluffs Circuit stop. After giving one of her seats to her son, Merwick busted midway through Day 1. She was joined early in the day by William Burdick, who busted early on when he ran into a big hand with Brandon Cantu. Burdick raised preflop with , and Cantu made the call from the big blind. Cantu checked the flop of , and Burdick led out. Cantu raised all in with , and Burdick quickly called. The on the turn gave Cantu a flush draw, but it was the on the river that gave him the pot and sent Burdick to the rail.
Cantu's luck held for most of the day until he ran into a flopped monster by Ronald Koenemann late on Day 1. Cantu moved all in on a flop of with for the nut flush draw, but found himself drawing nearly dead when Koenemann tabled . No help came on the turn or river for Cantu, and he was eliminated.
Bob Slezak hung around the middle of the pack for most of Day 1, bleeding off some chips before doubling up late in the day to move back into contention. In his big hand, Slezak raised preflop with , and found a re-raise and an all-in before the action got around the table back to him. Slezak called the all-in, and the player in the middle got out of the way. Slezak's jacks were in a race against his opponent's , and they held up on the board of to put Slezak back on the board with only a little time left on Day 1.
By the time the day's seventh level ended, only 27 players remained of the 99 who started play. Howard Wolper held the chip lead as the day ended, and notable survivors included Slezak and Bernard Lee. Local boy Tony Mersick, from Council Bluffs, lost some of his early chip lead as the day moved on, but still finished Day 1 in strong fashion. The top ten chip stacks looked like this:
Howard Wolper – 88,400
Josh Harshbarger – 80,700
Mark Eddleman - 66,300
Keith Murrell – 57,900
Tony Mersick – 56,400
John Kincaid – 54,900
Jesse Bowman – 44,900
Robert Wisiak – 44,100
Bernard Lee – 42,400
Ron Koenemann – 41,700