Day 1 of the £2,500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, Event #2 at the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe, kicked off with a stacked field of 110 top players, including many of the most recognizable faces (and voices) in the poker world. Making his typical late entrance to the room was 11-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, joining an already stacked field that included Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda and the ever-voluble Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, who had the good fortune to be seated at a table adjacent to Hellmuth.
For the WSOP Europe, eight hands of each game were played, in this order: limit hold'em, Omaha hi/lo, razz, stud and stud hi/lo. H.O.R.S.E. events typically draw a crowd of the world's top players due to the mixed-game format, and this was no exception. With so many top players in the tournament, several "tables of death" emerged early on. One stacked table included Max Pescatori, John Juanda, Thor Hansen, Chad Brown and Doyle Brunson. Another featured Erick Lindgren, Mickey Wernick, Joe Beevers, Daniel Negreanu, Bruno Fitoussi and Barry Greenstein. Also taking a seat among the top players in the world was Kelly Kim, one of the 2008 WSOP Main Event final-table players.
The first few levels were fairly quiet, given the skill of the players and the limit format. One of the early eliminations was Chad Brown, who found himself all in against Jean-Robert Bellande and Robert Williamson in an Omaha hi/lo hand. The board read when Brown's last chips went in the middle, and the turn and river came down . Williamson showed for the nut low, and Bellande held for a baby flush and the high half of the pot. Brown flashed his cards on their way to the muck and on his way to the exit. Other Day 1 eliminations included Andy Black, Layne Flack and Mori Eskandani.
Eskandani's exit came at the hands, and psychic powers, of Mike Matusow, who called Eskandani's all-in move on a flop of in hold'em. Eskandani held for a pair, while Matusow tabled for the inside straight draw. "It's okay, though, the six is coming," he reassured the table, "I can feel it." It didn't come on the turn, as the landed instead. But true to his words, the on the river gave the prescient Matusow a straight and sent Eskandani home. As the day wore into night and the blinds moved high, more high-profile players busted, including Michael Binger, Chris Ferguson, David Benyamine and 2007 WSOPE H.O.R.S.E. champion Thomas Bihl.
Phil Hellmuth finished Day 1 near the top of the leader board, as the 11-time WSOP champion made a move towards his first non-hold'em bracelet. Also surviving Day 1 with healthy stacks were chip leader Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Hendon Mobsters Joe Beevers and Barny Boatman, and Mark Gregorich, who recently claimed a gold bracelet of a different sort in the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker. Gregorich took down Event #21 in stud hi/lo and put his mixed-game prowess on display at the WSOPE.
The top ten chip stacks looked like this as play ended on Day 1:
Phil Ivey - 59,200
Phil Hellmuth - 54,200
Woody Deck - 37,500
Bruce Yamron - 34,700
Erik Albinsson - 32,400
Adam Osborne - 31,900
Yuval Bronshtein - 31,900
Joe Beevers - 31,300
Isaac Haxton - 30,800
Raul Paez - 30,700
Join PokerNews at 2PM on Tuesday as the remaining 56 players vie for seats in the eight-player final.
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