720 players took the field in Event #43, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Low, and with an average of nearly 100 players eliminated per hour in the early going, it didn't take long for the field to thin all the way down past the money bubble. Ed Smith ended the day the chip leader among the 68 survivors, as the rapid-fire eliminations claimed pros and amateurs alike.
Plenty of big names were on hand to start the day, with bracelet winners such as Chris Ferguson, Katja Thater, Alan Smurfit, Scott Clements, Barry Greenstein and Lee Watkinson all among the field. 2007 Player of the Year Tom Schneider and 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem also played the event. Katja Thater became one of the first eliminations when she ran into an early full house on a board of K-10-3-5-5. Her opponent tabled pocket kings for the nut full house, and Thater headed to the rail early.
Other early eliminations included Barry Greenstein, Gavin Smith, Clonie Gowen, Ari Engel and Schneider, who busted in the same hand as Jon Friedberg. Schneider was in trouble from the flop with a set of fours to Freidberg's set of nines, but Mick McCool flopped the nut flush draw and turned a wheel to send both Schneider and Friedberg to the rail.
The first four levels of play saw more than half the field head to the rail, as the field thinned from 720 to 332 in just four hours. Also heading to the rail on Day 1 were Dutch Boyd, Blair Rodman, Michael Binger, Jean-Robert Bellande and Alan Smurfit.
"Minneapolis" Jim Meehan was eliminated by Shannon Shorr not long after he promised an hour of silence to his tablemates. There had been complaints about the volume of Meehan's table chatter, enough that the floor was called to ask him to tone it down. Meehan promised not to speak for an hour, but was released from his vow of silence when Shorr sent him to the rail. Meehan's former tablemates got no relief from chitchat, however, as the ever-voluble Layne Flack was moved into Meehan's seat.
Joe Hachem made a strong showing on Day 1, finishing in the top half of the field along with fellow pros Erik Seidel and Shorr. Hachem picked up one big pot early in the evening when he sent two players to the rail in the same hand. One opponent moved his short stack all in preflop, and Hachem made the call with . Gary Beekman moved all in over the top with , and Hachem again called. The original raiser tabled , and the flop came down . The turn gave Hachem two different gutshot draws, and the river made Broadway for the 2004 World Champ and sent both opponents to the rail.
Play tightened up as the money bubble neared. Aurelian Guiglini was the bubble boy, busting to chip leader Ed Smith in 73rd place. Guiglini called a preflop raise from a player in middle position, and Ed Smith came along from the big blind. The original raiser led out on the flop, and Guiglini called all in. Smith called as well, and the turn and river were checked down. Smith tabled for trips, and the original raiser mucked. Guiglini showed for two pair, and he was eliminated on the bubble.
Guiglini's elimination came with just a few minutes left in the night's final level, and four players took that opportunity to ship the last of their chips in, leaving 68 players at the end of the day. Ed Smith finished up on top of the leader board, with Shannon Shorr, Joe Hachem, Erik Seidel and Chris Ferguson among the big names remaining in the field. The top ten chip stacks looked like this at the end of the day:
Ed Smith 119,500
Shannon Shorr 86,900
Damon Singer 80,400
Martin Klaser 79,800
Larry Wright 75,300
Sam Khoueis 73,000
Gabe Costner 69,200
Jeff Bryan 66,900
Bryan Jolly 63,300
Erik Seidel 58,900
Join PokerNews at 2PM PDT as the remaining 68 play down to the final table.