Most of the field in Event 36 No-Limit Hold'em at the World Series of Poker played as if they had somewhere else to be. Evidently, quite a few did, in fact, have other engagements, which led to play featuring constant confrontations and lighting-fast eliminations.
More than 90 percent of the starting 2,447-player field was eliminated in just over 12 hours of play on Day 1 in the $1,500 buy-in event at the Rio. Interestingly, the money bubble burst not during one of the night's dozens of all-in confrontations, but because one player had to leave to deal with a personal emergency. He was blinded off, and the rest of the field waited until the last of his chips were gone before they went back to the business of throwing their own in the pot every chance they could get.
When the action finally halted for the day, online star Owen 'ocrowe' Crowe, who also has two career WSOP cashes to his credit, led the way with 170,000 chips. Following not too far behind is the red-hot Danny Wong, who has 114,500. Wong has been one of the hottest players on the tournament trail of late, with four World Poker Tour final table appearances over the past two seasons and several other high finishes in major events.
Others near the top of the leader board include Leonid Yanovski (106,500), Jim Mackowiak (103,400), R.W. Best (103,200), Richard Deeb (99,600), Duncan Bell (99,300) and Chris Klodnicki (99,200).
A few other notable players still in contention include up-and-coming tournament pro Jesper Hougaard (75,000) and well-known pros J.C. Tran (54,400) and Alex Jacob (27,100), both of whom got involved in more than their fair share of big pots.
Tran seemed on the verge of elimination just before the money when he was down to just 7,000 in chips. He doubled up once, and then again, to get off life support, then did it one more time before the night was over to get back into contention with a middle-of-the-pack chip stack. Jacob, on the other hand, was steadily building a nice stack before taking a couple of devastating blows just before play ended for the night. He lost a race to an all-in player while holding J-J when his opponent's A-K flopped a pair, ending Jacob's night on a sour note.
The play was generally fast, loose and wild, as most of the players seemed interested in either chipping up fast or going home. None of the players appeared too concerned about avoiding confrontations, even in the earliest stages of the tournament.
More than two-thirds of the field had been eliminated by level 4, which spoke to the speed with which players were moving their chips. Perhaps the mood was best summed up by seasoned tournament pro Tony Cousineau who, after re-raising his opponent to 1,200 pre-flop, suddenly face an all-in bet for more than 10,000.
"Well, the good news is that I was really looking forward to playing in the $10,000 Omaha hi-lo event, so I'm gonna gamble with A-K," Cousineau said. His opponent flipped over pocket queens, which held up to send Cousineau out of this tournament and into the registration line for the next one.
It was generally this kind of night, with players continually getting all the money in pre-flop even when they were fairly deep-stacked relative to the blinds.
This Day 1 was also notable for two similar, back-to-back incidents that happened toward the end of the night. In each case, a player made a large reraise and thought that his opponent had called all-in. In both instances, the reraisers tabled pocket aces before their opponents had acted, allowing them to see the nuts while holding a live hand and, of course, folding before putting the rest of their money in the pot.