A field packed with poker’s biggest names descended upon the Rio on Thursday afternoon for opening-day action in the special “40th Annual” tourney. With the event’s $40,000 buy-in guaranteeing that only the most elite of players were on hand, the day’s action kicked off with short welcomes from WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, and the traditional “Shuffle Up and Deal!” from a poker dignitary, in this case reigning WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate.
The limited field and relatively sparse crowds turned the Day 1 session for the event into a true railbird’s delight, with a roomy section of the Amazon ballroom reserved for the day’s play. Dozens of players made stylishly late entrances to the event, but when registrations officially closed following the event’s first break, 201 players had ponied up the $40,000 entry fee each. 27 players will share in the $7,718,400 prize pool, with the winner to receive $1,891,012.
With ultra-deep opening stacks, only a sparse handful of knockouts occurred in the early going. Among those exiting early were Eric Cajelais, Scott Montgomery, Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Dario Minieri. Several other players made an early jump to the top of the board, doubling up on their 120,000 starting stacks in the first two levels of play. Among the early leaders were Phil Laak, Vivek Rajkumar, Samdor Demjan, Justin Bonomo, Michael DeMichele, David Chui, Andy Black, and PokerNews’ own Tony G.
A complete recap of Event #2’s Day 1 action will appear on Friday morning.