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2008 WSOP Event #21, $5,000 NLHE, Day 1: Alex Melnikow Leads

2008 WSOP Event #21, $5,000 NLHE, Day 1: Alex Melnikow Leads 0001

Last year, the $5,000 NLHE event drew 640 players with James"" Mackey claiming top honors. This year's event drew 731 players with a winner yet to be determined. When the bracelet is ultimately awarded, however, it will be accompanied by $755,891. Alex Melnikow ended Day 1 as chip leader. Melnikow cashed four times in last year's WSOP, including a money finish in the Main Event. The top ten end of day chip counts follow:

Alex Melnikow — 248,800

Sam El Sayed — 215,800

Jared Okun — 170,000

Thanhdat Tran — 164,700

Hasan Habib — 140,200

Keith Tilston — 135,400

David Seidman — 119,800

Rajesh Vohra — 117,700

Mark Radoja — 117,700

Scott Freeman — 115,800

The large Day 1 field didn't stay that way long. The aggressive and talented field fed on itself at an almost alarming rate, losing over 110 players within the first two levels of play. David Pham, Thierry van den Berg, Evan McNiff, and Bill Gazes were among the early eliminations. 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem also exited early when his pocket jacks lost a race with an opponent's A-K.

Nenad Medic's departing hand was of the more painful variety. Medic had flopped a set of jacks, only to discover that his opponent had also flopped a set. Unfortunately for Medic, his opponent had flopped a set of queens. Isaac Haxton's overpair was ultimately no match for his opponent's flopped set. And Jamie Gold apparently picked the wrong time to push with K-10, running it up against an opponent's pocket aces.

Eli Elezra managed to eliminate Andy Black and Hevad Kahn in the same hand. Black was short-stacked and pushed all in pre-flop, getting called by Elezra and Kahn. Kahn moved all in on a 10-6-5 flop and was called by Elezra. Elezra had 8-5 for a pair, to Kahn's A-9 and Black's K-10. The turn and river brought a six and deuce, and Elezra took it down.

Mark Newhouse eliminated Liz Lieu when his pocket queens held up against her flopped top pair of tens. Both Eric Froehlich and Steve Billirakis were eliminated in identical, but separate hands; both rammed their pocket queens into pocket aces. Vanessa Rousso went out much the same way, just on a smaller scale. Rousso's pocket fours failed in an attempt to overtake Mark Segal's pocket nines.

Erica Schoenberg, Erik Seidel, Antonio Esfandiari, Ryan Daut, Bill Edler, Justin Bonomo, Sorel Mizzi, Jennifer Tilly, Kenna James, Roland de Wolfe, Chris Ferguson, and Sammy Farha would also all fail to navigate their way to Day 2.

While Day 1 played fast, the field was still out of the money when play ended. 121 players remain, while only 72 players will make the cash spots. And while the field lost many notable players, Day 2 will still host a world class field. Among those returning are Jerrod Ankenman, Michael Mizrachi, Humberto Brenes, Anna Wroblewski, Luca Pagano, Noah Boeken, Howard Lederer, Alex Jacob, Eli Elezra, Kathy Liebert, Eric Lynch, Layne Flack, Ben Grundy, Sarah Bilney, Gavin Smith, Huck Seed – and so many more.

Check back with the PokerNews 'Live Reporting' team at 2pm PDT for all the Day 2 action.

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