For some of the top names in poker, the World Series of Poker Circuit Event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was a last warm-up before the 2009 WSOP kicks off at the end of May. The field for Day 1 was among the toughest all year, with Johnny Chan, David “The Dragon” Pham, Gavin Smith, Justin Bonomo and Kathy Liebert among those taking their shots at the gold Circuit championship ring. When the dust settled on Day 1, the field of 187 players had been whittled down to 88, with Jeremiah DeGreef sitting atop the leader board with 152,600 in chips, nearly 40,000 more than his closest competitor. DeGreef picked up $70,000 for winning a preliminary event earlier in this Circuit stop, and went into the Main Event looking for another ring.
With so many big names in the field, there were bound to be some heavy hitters eliminated early. Among the early bustouts were Mark Seif, Jimmy “gobboboy” Fricke, Peter “Nordberg” Feldman and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Johnny Chan. Chan was busted by Kathy Liebert on a bluff gone wrong. Liebert led out on a flop of , and Chan called. Chan called once more when the landed on the turn. Liebert checked the river, and Chan moved all in on the . Liebert quickly called, and Chan mucked before he even saw Liebert’s hand.
Not all top pros had such a tough day, though. The aggressive David Pham busted several players on his way through to Day 2. Some were simple “turn over the cards and fade two outs” affairs, as in a big hand where his pocket jacks outran an opponent’s pocket eights, but Pham also ran well, as when he flopped an open-ended straight draw holding on a board of . His opponent moved all in, and Pham called with his big draw. He found himself facing a flopped set when his opponent showed , but the river brought the to fill Pham’s straight, and he claimed yet another victim. Other players making it through Day 1 included Amir Vahedi, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Justin Bonomo and Theo Tran.
Steve Dannenmann looked like he was going to limp into Day 2 with a tiny stack, but Matt “All in at 420” Stout ended that hope on the very last hand of the night. Stout raised preflop with , and Dannenmann moved all in over the top for just a little more. Scott Seiver then moved all in, and Stout put the last of his chips at risk to make the call. Seiver was behind with , and Dannenmann needed a lot of help with . With two players all in, the board ran out , and Stout’s pocket tens held up as Steve Dannenmann busted just before the last cards fell on Day 1.
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