A long and wild Saturday in the Amazon Room offered sure sign that the 2008 World Series of Poker is nearing full gear, despite the fact that the series' first champion's bracelet has yet to be awarded. Two events filled the giant hall during the day and one of those lasted well into the early-morning hours, with each of the events a special treat in its own way.
Noon on Saturday brought the kickoff of Event #2, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, the first of several such popular, relatively affordable entries on this year's slate. This event was expected to draw a huge turnout and was thus scheduled for twin opening days, and the numbers did not disappoint: 2,048 players began action on Day 1a of the event. Another 2,000 or more are expected for Saturday's Day 1b, bringing the expected combined entries to more than 4,000 and shattering the all-time attendance record for a non-Main Event WSOP tourney. The old record (excepting those Main Events) was 3,151, and was guaranteed to fall as soon as action began on Saturday; the only question now is how high the new record will climb. The Day 1b session begins at noon on Sunday.
David Robertson finished the day atop a congested pack of 224 survivors, bagging up 109,100 in chips. He surpassed Shane "Shaniac" Schleger late in the day to move to the top. Schleger suffered a small hit to his stack late in the session but still finished fourth among all Day 1a starters. Other big names among the 224 survivors include Theo Tran, Terrence Chan, Jon Friedberg, Ylon Schwartz, Matt Stout, Gavin Griffin, Dan Schmiech, Paul Sexton, Lars Bonding, Sarah Bilney and Todd Brunson.
Meanwhile, Day 2 action in the WSOP's opening event, the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em World Championship, saw a glittering pack of stars whittled down to a power-packed final table topped by perennial force Andy Bloch, who will return for Sunday's to-be-taped-for-TV final with nearly double the chips of his nearest competitors, Nenad Medic and Mike Sexton. Sexton was one of several shorter stacks who doubled through to stay alive after the field was trimmed to ten, as did final-table survivors Amit Mahkija and Chris Bell. It was John Kabbaj who was finally bounced in tenth, following several hours of TV-bubble play. Kabbaj's exit meant seats at the final for Patrik Antonius, Kathy Liebert, Phil Laak and Mike Sowers, along with the others mentioned above. The final table in this one begins at 3pm on Sunday, with the 2008 WSOP's first bracelet and a check for $794,112 awaiting the winner.