While cycling's Tour de California was rolling through nearby Pasadena, the Commerce Casino's gigantic poker tournament attracted 696 players seeking their own form of gold as the LA Poker Classic main event kicked off. Among the participants were poker superstars Erick Lindgren, Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu, plus former world champions Phil Hellmuth, Jerry Yang and Chris Ferguson. 2008 LAPC champ Phil Ivey also joined the field, as did Erik Seidel, Allen Cunningham and Michael Mizrachi.
Hellmuth made his typical late appearance, joining the field more than two hours late. Another late arrival was Vivek Rajkumar, who was up until the wee hours of the morning winning the LAPC $10,000 Heads-Up Championship, the final preliminary event. There was speculation among players and reporters that Rajkumar would skip the event, but after a few hours of beauty sleep, he took his place in the field.
With such a stacked field, there were bound to be plenty of casualties on Day 1. Among those busting early were November Nine member Scott Montgomery, Jean-Robert Bellande and Chino Rheem. Bellande ventured downstairs to play heads-up pot-limit Omaha in a match where he was given five cards to his opponent's four. Bellande said in an online forum that he was up slightly over the first two days of play in the match.
Another early casualty on Day 1 was WSOP-Europe Main Event Champion John Juanda. Juanda raised preflop and was called by Jeff Manthe. The flop came , and Manthe check-called Juanda's bet. Manthe led out on the turn, and Juanda called. Manthe checked the river, inducing a huge overbet from Juanda, who moved all in. Manthe snap-called with for the full house, and Juanda's day was done.
Daniel Negreanu finished Day 1 in second place in chips, a healthy start to his quest for the $1,686,760 top prize. He picked up steam early when he and an opponent got all their chips in the middle on a board of 9-10-J-9. Negreanu's opponent tabled for the flopped straight, but he was drawing dead to Negreanu's K-Q for the top end of the straight. Negreanu never lost steam after that hand, finishing the day high on the leader board, trailing only Kasey Nam as play closed for the day.
Kasey Nam — 141,000
Daniel Negreanu -- 128,000
Jeff Madsen -- 112,500
Bertrand Grospellier -- 86,000
Danny Wong -- 79,500
Nick Schulman -- 79,000
Phil Ivey -- 75,000
Kofi Farkye -- 68,000
David Chiu -- 68,000
Steve Paul-Ambrose -- 65,000