In a lightning-quick Day 1, over 90% of the field was eliminated in Event #39, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em. 2,720 players signed up for the event, with only 218 surviving to Day 2. Michael Polcari ended Day 1 as the chip leader, outlasting pros including Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, John Juanda and Eric "Rizen" Lynch, to name just a few.
The huge field took up all available tables spread throughout the Amazon Room and the overflow areas at the Rio, and included Carlos Mortensen, Joe Sebok, Barry Greenstein, Tony Dunst and Kenna James. Early eliminations included Andy Bloch, who ran pocket jacks into pocket queens, Carlos Mortensen, who ran pocket sevens into pocket jacks, and Antonio Esfandiari, who ran pocket queens into pocket aces. In a field this size, the number of big hands was increased exponentially, with one showdown revealing a player with quad kings losing to a royal flush!
Other early bustouts included Joe Sebok, Daniel Negreanu, Nenad Medic, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Vanessa Rousso, and Kathy Liebert. Liebert moved the last of her chips in preflop with and was called by a player with . Liebert was ahead preflop, but the flop came down , and she was left drawing thin. The turn and river came down , and she was done.
Phil Hellmuth made his typical late entrance, arriving after more than half his stack had been blinded off. He followed his late arrival with an early exit when he got all his chips in the middle with A-K against pocket jacks and did not improve.
Several big names busted just before the dinner break, including Mike Caro, Joe Hachem, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Scotty Nguyen. Scotty went out in a tough hand with Scott Clements when he re-raised Clements preflop and Clements called to see a flop of . Clements led out at the flop, and Nguyen called. The 9c came on the turn, and Clements check-raised all in. Nguyen quickly called with pocket aces, and Clements tabled . The on the river made two pair for Clements and sent Nguyen to the rail. Only 591 players made it to the dinner break, with over 75% of the field eliminated in the first few levels.
The breakneck pace of eliminations continued after dinner, with pros such as David Singer, Ross and Barny Boatman and Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler heading to the rail shortly after dinner. As the evening grew later, play tightened up as the money bubble neared, marking one of the earliest bubble periods of the 2008 WSOP. After a tense period, the bubble burst, and the remaining 270 players were in the money. The typical post-bubble rush of eliminations ensued, and at one point over a dozen players were waiting in line for their payouts.
The remaining players continued their quest for a bracelet, with some notable late-night eliminations. Nick Binger and Arnold Spee were among the post-bubble bustouts, and Theo Tran headed to the rail on one of the last hands of the night. After finding himself extremely short-stacked, Tran tossed the last of his chips in blind after a preflop raise from one opponent and a call from another. The initial raiser moved all in on the flop, and the other opponent folded. Tran revealed when he looked at his cards for the first time, and his opponent was well ahead with . No help came for Tran on the turn or river, and he busted just before the end of Day 1.
Michael Polcari finished Day 1 with the chip lead, in a field that still held landmines such as Barry Greenstein, Kenna James, Bill Gazes and Humberto Brenes. The top ten chip stacks looked like this as the players bagged their chips at the end of the day:
Michael Polcari — 130,000
Jason Yates — 115,200
Christian Holt — 113,300
Eric Beren — 110,900
Mike Zulker — 107,000
David Barter — 102,300
Michel Leibgorin — 97,100
Matthew Wood — 93,700
Gordon Hamilton — 92,800
Chris Weaver — 90,900
Join PokerNews at 2PM PDT as the remaining 218 players work their way toward the final table.