Action at the 2008 World Series of Poker on Thursday centered around continuing action in Event #45, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. The elite field in this one narrowed significantly as the blinds came into play. The day began with 140 of 148 original entrants still alive, but by night's end the field had been trimmed to 67, with a leaderboard stuffed with famous poker names.
When the last 90-minute level of the day concluded, the lead was narrowly held by "Big Game" veteran / casino magnate Lyle Berman, who topped the 500,000-chip mark late in the day. Berman slipped by Patrick Bueno, with Barry Greenstein in third, while the top ten alone stood as a "Who's Who" of the game, despite a number of huge names also heading to the rail. Spots seven through ten alone were occupied overnight by Erick Lindgren, Justin Bonomo, Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson, while above them in spots four through six stood Minh Ly, Chris Reslock and Joseph Michael. Top to bottom the remaining field is of similar caliber, assuring a star-packed final three days for the event.
Despite the media attention lavished on the H.O.R.S.E. tourney, four other events saw action as well, including Event #43, $1,500 Pot-Limit Hi/Low, where Erik Seidel sought his ninth career bracelet. It was not to be for Seidel, who eventually finished fourth, while this one boiled down to a duel between Martin Klaser and Casey Kastle. Kastle held the lead during the middle portion of the day following a couple of big, early knockouts, but by the time heads-up play was reached Klaser had taken control. Klaser would not be headed here, as he dominating the 19 heads-up hands against Kastle and wrapped up the bracelet and accompanying $216,249 winner's check. Kastle pulled down $137,985 for finishing second.
A Maryland player who perfected his game online, while in college, wrote the tale of Day 2 in Event #44, 1,000 No-Limit Hold'em w/ Rebuys. Jesse Chinni stormed forward after being mid-pack in the middle of the day, and following a couple of late knockouts as the final table approached, had amassed over two million in chips, more than twice his nearest competitor, Rene Mouritsen. This one will be decided today; other names to look out for here include Euro online cash-gamer Albert Iversen, Alex Bolotin and Scott Freeman.
Two more events started up on Thursday. The noon start time went to Event #46, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed, which drew 805 players and featured the expected aggressive play. Only 96 players remained when play stopped for the day after ten levels, just outside the 78-spot money bubble, which will be reached early today. The leader here is Jesper Petersen, with Davidi Kitai (seeking his second bracelet of the year) and Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier also in the top ten.
Starting at 5pm on Thursday was Event #47, $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi/Low. 544 players started in this one, and the field was trimmed down to 117 by night's end, eight levels later. Ben Tang, who has a previous history of high finishes in the event, assumed the overnight lead. Major stars still in the running include Phil Hellmuth, Tony G, Marco Traniello, Annie Duke, Barbara Enright and Brett Jungblut.
Only one event begins today at the Rio, but it's a big'un on the popularity scale – the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Event #48. Well over 2,000 entrants are present as this one gets underway, with players occupying every available poker seat in the Rio complex.