With a buy-in twice as large as last year's $5,000 entry, the $10,000 Limit Hold'em World Championship drew only 218 players, fewer than last year's 257 entries. Thanks to the bigger buy-in, however, the prize pool is actually much larger, with the winner this year taking home $496,931. And fewer players did not mean less star power, as the elite of the poker world was well-represented in the field. At the end of Day 1, this illustrious field was cut by more than half, down to 98.
Going into Day 2, the top ten chip leaders are:
JC Tran 106,400
Terrence Chan 97,900
Eric Buchman 95,200
Justin Bonomo 94,000
Ray Dehkharghani 90,800
David Oppenheim 89,900
Max Casal 89,700
Alex Kravchenko 79,800
Chris Vitch 78,200
Patrick Bueno 76,700
Last year's winner, Saro Getzoyan, an MIT grad with no prior WSOP cashes, was back to defend his crown. He was joined by many famous players including Annie Duke, Carlos Mortenson, Marcel Luske, Patrik Antonius, Gabe Kaplan and Men "The Master" Nguyen. The combination of a relatively small field and a high concentration of well-known pros led to some interesting table combinations such as Table #15. Already hosting Phil Ivey, Bill Edler and Noah Boeken, the table saw a true icon come and sit down – Doyle Brunson. Table 23 had its own "Murderers' Row" with Joe Sebok, J.C. Tran, Michael Mizrachi, Huck Seed, and Theo Tran.
Not surprisingly, Table #23 was the site of an early confrontation. After a flop, Mizrachi led out for 500 from the small blind and Seed raised to 1000 from the big blind. Theo Tran called, Mizrachi then three-bet and Seed and Tran called. Mizrachi bet out 1,000 and Seed and Tran both called the turn. The river was the and Mizrachi again led out for 1,000, but this time Seed raised to 2,000. Tran folded and Mizrachi called and discovered that his pocket kings were second best to Seed's A-9, for the trips.
There was quite a bit of multi-table, multitasking going on as players ran from one event to another. Barry Greenstein played, and won, the $1,500 Razz event while simultaneously playing, and staying alive in, this event. Recent fourth-bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu juggled the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event with this one, and almost stayed alive to move on to Day 2. He was down to just 1,100 in chips as it came around to his 1,200 big blind. With just 25 seconds to go in the round, the big blind could have tanked before mucking and Negreanu would have moved on. Instead, the player instantly mucked and the dealer moved the button and dealt out one final hand. Negreanu was out, but still had the finals of the PLO event to look forward to.
J.C. Tran came on strong and finished the day on the upswing thanks to a timely gift on the river. Tran had raised from the cutoff and he had one opponent, the under the gun player, going to the flop. The flop was checked to Tran, who bet out and was called. The came on the turn and again Tran's opponent check-called. The river was the and again it went check, bet, call. His opponent turned over pocket queens, but Tran showed A-J for top pair and raked in the pot.
Matt Sterling made a late run for the top of the leader board going heads up against Brandon Adams. With showing on the board, Sterling and Adams traded raises until the betting was capped. When the turn came a , Adams came over the top of Sterling for the rest of his chips. Sterling called and tabled for the flush. Adams showed for top two pair. No ace or king on the river meant Adams was out and Sterling was going into Day 2 with a healthy stack.
Even with the late eliminations of poker powerhouses Brandon Adams, Daniel Alaei, Ted Forrest, Freddy Deeb and Scotty Nguyen, there is still a veritable Who's Who in the poker world left in this event, including Tran, both Michael and Robert Mizrachi, 1996 WSOP Main Event champ Huck Seed, "The Professor" Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Todd Brunson, Jennifer Harman and Marco Traniello to name but a few. The top 27 will finish in the money, with the 27th-place finisher receiving $20,492 and the winner taking home $496,931.
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