414 players took to the felt at the Amazon Room for Event #22 of the 2008 World Series of Poker, $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. The field was slightly larger than the 2007 event, which drew 382 players for a $2,500 entry fee and was won by James Richberg. There were plenty of familiar faces in the field, including several from other tournaments going on, meaning those players attempted to rush back and forth between their tables. Daniel Negreanu let his chair play for him most of the day as he went deep in the $2,000 Limit Hold'em event, while David Benyamine walked over to the table with bricks of cash from his final-table appearance in Event #18 to take his seat for H.O.R.S.E. Neither Benyamine nor Negreanu's chair made it through Day 1.
H.O.R.S.E is made up of five games, limit hold'em, Omaha hi/lo, razz, seven-card stud, and stud hi/lo. In previous years, an entire round of each game was played before the game was changed, but for 2008 the change was made to switch games after each orbit (eight hands).
Many of the toughest table draws were created by pros that registered late, ending up in a clump with their peers instead of at potentially softer tables. One such table included Nenad Medic, Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman and Robert Mizrachi, while Hoyt Corkins, Todd Brunson and Tom Schneider all clustered around another "table of death." Other notable players in the field included Greg Raymer, Chad Brown, Jim McManus, Nick Schulman and Justin Bonomo.
Thanks to the limit format of the games, play was deliberate early on, with very few bustouts before the dinner break. Robert Williamson III, David Williams, Katja Thater and Dario Alioto were among the early bustouts. Williamson took a nasty beat that sent him to the rail when he got all his money in on fifth street in stud with aces up against an opponent with jacks up. Unfortunately for Williamson, the jack on seventh gave his opponent a full house and sent him packing.
The pace picked up after dinner, with John Juanda, Chad Brown and Daniel Negreanu's chair all eliminated shortly after the dinner break. Negreanu did play his stack for a short while during a break from the other tournament, sitting down for a few minutes and raising four hands in a row! Negreanu's chair, however, lacking Negreanu in it, did not have the skill to accumulate chips.
Other notable eliminations on Day 1 included Robert "Chip Burner" Turner, who is frequently credited with inventing the game Omaha, Phil Gordon, Andy Bloch and Victor Ramdin. Ramdin got the last of his chips in the middle with , but rain into pocket aces preflop. Nothing unusual occurred on the board, and Ramdin was eliminated.
Shannon Elizabeth made a strong showing on Day 1, finishing up with one of the top chip stacks after busting several opponents late in Day 1. She took out her last victim in Omaha hi/lo with on a board of for a rivered set. Her opponent mucked, and Elizabeth added to her stacks. Other notable survivors of Day 2 included Phil Ivey, Mike Sexton, Greg Raymer, Billy "The Croc" Argyros and Mike Gracz. The top ten chip stacks looked like as play ended on Day 1:
Alexander Jung 54,300
Chris Gentile 50,300
Shannon Elizabeth 44,200
James Mackey 42,900
Todd Brunson 41,700
Marc Goodwin 41,500
Kevin Saul 36,800
Rostislav Tsodikov 36,000
James van Alstyne 36,000
Linda Drucker 36,000
Join PokerNews at 3PM PDT for all the live updates as the remaining 133 players play down to the final table.