Event #27 drew a capacity crowd of 2,706 players, including returning champ Phil Hellmuth, Jr. Hellmuth won this event last year, giving him a record 11 WSOP bracelets and a nice payday in the amount of $637,254. The top 270 players would finish in the money this time around with the winner on Monday collecting $628,417 and the gold bracelet. Bernard Lee, who finished 13th in the 2005 WSOP Main Event, had a strong showing, finishing the day atop the leader board, followed by Swedish pro Philip Yeh and amateur Mark Tschirch. By the end of Day 1, the field had been winnowed to 224, all of whom would cash.
The top ten in chips afte Day 1 action were as follows:
Bernard Lee 166,400
Philip Yeh 155,200
Marc Tschirch 145,100
Rainer Meyer 139,600
Kyle Wilson 133,300
Michael Skomac 108,900
Joe Awada 108,200
Albert Iverson 98,500
Mike Abbott 95,600
Terry Quinn 94,200
Among the famous faces spotted in this huge field were Phil Laak, Joe Sebok, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Beth Shak, Greg Raymer, JJ Liu, John Phan and Hevad Khan, all of whom suffered the same fate as last year's winner, Hellmuth – early elimination.
Jeff Madsen had his day cut short when he pushed all in with and was called by the big blind holding . By the turn, the board read and Madsen had picked up an open-ended straight draw. But the river was an ace and Madsen was out. Also out early was Craig Gray, who shoved preflop but could not have been happy to have two people move all in behind him as he was holding only pocket fours. The other two players showed pocket jacks and A-Q. An ace on the flop and blanks on the turn and river gave the whole pot to the A-Q and sent Gray home.
Joe Awada was late getting back from the dinner break but not late enough for one unlucky opponent. Awada got it all in on the flop with pocket tens against an opponent's pocket kings. The flop was 5-10-J and the turn and river were inconsequential and Awada had moved up to chip leader.
Jean-Robert Bellande was a victim of some good-natured teasing when he had a hard decision just before the bubble. Philip Yeh had raised to 3,000 and Bellande reraised to 10,000. Yeh came back over the top for all his chips. Bellande then sighed, "The first time I'm going to make the money in this tournament and this is the situation I find myself in." Yeh offered to show him, but Bellande complained, "You had ace-nine the last time you said that." While this discussion was going on, Bellande flashed his cards, pocket jacks, for everyone behind him to see and Greg "FTB" Mueller and Raymond Davis were goading him on from the next table. Finally, he folded and Yeh, good to his word, showed A-Q. Mueller and Davis offered to buy Yeh dinner for making Bellande sweat.
When play went hand-to-hand as the bubble neared, a one-round penalty had to be assessed against two players for collusion, after they agreed to check down the blinds. On the bubble hand, two players were knocked out, Ted Harris and Gusso Alessandro, and they will split the $2,770 prize for their joint 270th-place finish.
Eliminated just after the bubble was T6 player Rolf Slotboom, who had put his money in with the best of it, A-J to his opponent's A-9, only to be bounced when the board arrived 9-J-4-9-8. This was the Dutchman's fourth cash so far this year.
Alan Jaffray took a bit of a roller coaster ride, spending part of the day as chip leader only to be at risk for his tournament life and then back up again. On a board of he pushed all in and was called by an opponent holding to Jaffray's . The on the turn did not help and Jaffray had one card to go before elimination. But a fell on the river to give him the straight and he doubled up.
Near the end of play, Bernard Lee extended his lead and eliminated a player when his pocket nines cracked pocket aces thanks to a nine on the turn. Besides Lee, other notable players moving on to Day 2 include Awada, Mark Seif, Bellande, Jaffray, Jan Van Halle, Jason Gray, Erich Kollmann, and Humberto Brenes.
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