A sellout crowd of 2,718 players descended on the Rio for Day 1 of Event #49, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em. Before kicking off the event, the crowd paused for a moment of silence for the late John Bonetti. Then it was time to start the second-to-last $1,500 NLHE event of the 2008 World Series. By the end of a feverishly fast day of play, only 215 remained, all of them in the money. The overnight chip leaders include pros Young Phan, Manny Minaya and Greg Mueller, all in sight of Micah Raskin, who finished the day with the biggest stack. They and the rest of the field will return Sunday to play down to the final nine who will compete for the top prize of $631,170 and the WSOP bracelet.
The overnight chip leaders are:
Micah Raskin 175,200
Young Phan 140,000
Greg Alexander 134,700
Greg Mueller 131,700
Manelic Minaya 127,300
Matt Matros 113,600
Rasmus Nielsen 110,600
Gregg Merkow 109,900
Alexander Case 97,300
JC Tran 92,600
The early list of bustouts was full of notable names, such as Kenna James, Kevin Saul, Antonio Esfandiari, Marc Seif, Theo Tran, David Singer, Isabelle Mercier, Michael Binger, Phil Hellmuth, John Phan, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, TJ Cloutier, Shane Schleger, Joe Sebok, Jennifer Tilly and Nam Le. A late arrival to the event, Le started the day short and never got on track. Before the flop, Le pushed in his last 525 in chips with pocket sixes against Roscoe Derrod's pocket threes. An board gave Derrod a set and Le was done.
Seeing a flop, Jennifer Tilly decided to move all in for 1,200. Her opponent called, showing for middle pair and an open-ended straight draw. Tilly turned over pocket fours and was looking to make a set or hit her own straight draw. But the board ran out , giving her opponent a full house and Tilly headed to the rail.
Two players split the 270th-place money at the bubble. David Pointer and Dove Byrne each exited as the bubble was reached, Pointer when his pocket aces were cracked by a rivered straight and Byrne, who lost to pocket deuces with just jack high. They each collected $1,391.
Phil Hellmuth failed to make his 66th career cash. After an earlier hand where he folded pocket kings, dodging his opponent's all in move with pocket aces, Hellmuth lost a coin flip when his A-K failed to improve and his opponent's pocket eights held up.
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson was out soon after. He was all in with A-9 versus his opponent's Q-J and was ahead on the flop of . But the on the turn gave his opponent Broadway, and Ferguson couldn't fill up on the river
Many other famous names survived Day 1 and will add another WSOP cash to their stats, including Men "The Master" Nguyen, in the money for the 60th time, and fellow pros J.C. Tran, Jeff Madsen, Hevad Khan, Andy Black and Nancy Todd Tyner.
Young Phan pushed his stack even higher just before the end of play, when he called the button's all-in. Phan had pocket jacks, his opponent showed A-3 but failed to improve, and Phan was well over the 100,000 mark. Hevad Khan also won a pot late and knocked out an opponent when his 10-5 spiked a five on the flop and toppled Alexander Maria's all-in jack-high. JC Tran had his own late knockout when his pocket kings held up over Ben Story's suited J-4.
In just ten levels of play more than 90% of the field was eliminated. On Sunday, the survivors will battle to reach the final table. Then, on Monday, a new winner will be crowned to succeed 2007 winner Chandrasekhar Billavara.
Join PokerNews.com for live reporting of all the action on this event, beginning at 2pm Pacific Time.