261 players ponied up $5,000 each to enter Event #33, $5,000 Stud Hi/Lo World Championship at the 2008 World Series of Poker. Among the competitors were some of the most recognizable faces in poker, including Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Mike Sexton, ESPN's Norman Chad and 2008 bracelet winners Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, Max Pescatori and Daniel Negreanu.
As has been the case throughout the 2008 WSOP, payers who registered late were given the additional handicap of playing against some of the toughest players in the world. Since many pros registered for the event at the last minute, or even after the first hands had been dealt, they ended up at the same table. That was even more the case in Event #33, with the high buy-in and small field. Table #25, one of the last tables formed, was a prime example of that. The tabled was almost exclusively "name" players, with seating assignments that looked like this:
Seat 1: Erik Seidel
Seat 3: Tony G
Seat 4: Erick Lindgren
Seat 5: Sabyl Landrum
Seat 7: Todd Brunson
Seat 8: Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
Seven-card stud hi/lo is a split-pot game with a high hand and low hand. The low hand must have five unpaired cards eight or lower, while there is no qualifier on the high hand. In a given hand, a player may be going for the high pot, the low pot, or the all-important scoop. Hands that go both high and low, like the wheel (A-2-3-4-5) straight, are particularly strong in stud hi/lo.
Annie Duke demonstrated the importance of scooping pots early when she took down both sides of a pot early with . Her pair of eights was good for the high, and she made 8-6-3-2-A for low to drag the whole pot. Duke continued scooping pots all through Day 1 as she finished the day in the middle of those who survived Day 1 play.
With a field stacked with top pros, there were bound to be plenty of big-name eliminations. 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider was one heading to the rail early on Day 1, along with Jeff Madsen, Men "The Master" Nguyen, James "mig.com" Mackey and Doyle Brunson. Also heading to the rail were Nick Schulman, Scott Clements, Ted Forrest and David Singer, who jumped over to Event #33 after finishing up his final-table run in Event #29, where he took fifth place. Former World Champion Berry Johnston was also eliminated on Day 1, not long after a huge hand with Shawn Sheikhan.
Sheikhan, with the as his door card, completed his own bring-in. Johnston raised with the in the door, and Sheikhan called. Johnston picked up the on fourth street and bet out. Sheikhan called with his . Johnston fired again after catching the on fifth street, and Sheikhan raised with the . Johnston called, then checked sixth street when he caught the . Sheikhan drew the and fired again. Johnston called, then fireworks erupted on seventh street. The betting was capped at four bets after the players looked at their cards, and Johnston tabled [K-K] [K] for kings full of queens. Sheikhan revealed   for quads to take down a monster pot. Johnston was eliminated not long afterwards.
With all the big names in the field, the chip leader at the end of Day 1 was still a relative unknown. Chicago's Matt Grapenthien topped the star-studded field as the top ten chip counts looked like this:
Matt Grapenthien 51,900
Victor Shalom 51,100
Robert Mizrachi 49,600
Sean Sheikhan 46,900
Vegard Nygaard 46,100
Frank Thompson 44,700
Bob Lauria 42,600
Tad Jurgens 41,100
Thang Duc Nguyen 41,000
Steve Sung 40,900
Also still alive in the field were Barry Greenstein, Mike Sexton, Howard Lederer, Dutch Boyd, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey, among others. Join PokerNews at 3PM PDT for all the live updates as the remaining 120 players move one step closer to the bracelet, playing down to the eight-player lineup for Thursday's finale.