Event #5 of the World Series of Poker kicked off Monday afternoon as amateurs and pros alike turned out to take their shots at the first pot-limit Omaha bracelet of the series. Earlier in the year, WSOP officials decided to eliminate rebuy events from the schedule, so tournaments that had used rebuys in the past would now use an add-on system. This event was the first time that WSOP had the opportunity to try the new system. At the close of Day 1 play, the money bubble had just been popped at 81 players, with Jason Mercier holding a commanding chip lead going into Day 2.
With add-ons, each player received 1,500 in chips at the start of the event. They also received two red add-on disks that could be used at any time during the first three levels. If the player did not use the add-ons by the end of the add-on period, he received the rest of his chips automatically. The purpose of the add-ons was to simulate rebuys, but in a way that put everyone on equal footing.
809 players entered this event, which was a six percent increase over last year’s total of 758 entrants. This is the second straight non-hold’em event this year to see an increase in attendance. A star-studded field turned out for this event, including Allen Cunningham, Layne Flack, Erik Seidel, Robert Williamson III, Scott Clements, Amarillo Slim, Ted Lawson, and Alexander Kravchenko. Several internet pros also made their way into the event. Among those included Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul, Chad “lilholdem” Batista, Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke, and Matt “Allinat420” Stout.
Daniel Negreanu was a big proponent of eliminating rebuy events from the WSOP. While he received his wish, he also received something he did not want, and that was a Level 1 elimination. On the flop of , Negreanu moved all in with aces up. His opponent held a three and trips were enough to send Negreanu to the rail. The man who holds the record for most rebuys during a WSOP event also now holds the dubious honor of being one of the first players eliminated in the first WSOP event using add-ons.
The lack of rebuys had a noticeable impact, as several top pros were eliminated before the end of Level 3. Among those knocked out early were Jimmy Fricke, Bill Gazes, David Ulliott, Chris Bell, Sorel Mizzi, and Scott Clements.
Jeff Madsen learned the hard way that Omaha is a game of rivers. He was all in with against his opponent’s . On the turn, the board was and Madsen looked in fine shape to double up. But the river fell the to give his opponent a better full house and Madsen headed for the rail.
The field for this event shrank by over 55 percent in just four levels of play. Only 360 remained of the 809 players who started this event. Humberto Brenes was not among the survivors. Brenes moved all in on the flop of and was called by Alexander Kravchenko. Brenes held for two pair and Kravchenko held for outs to a straight. The turn fell the to give Humberto a set, but the river was the , giving Kravchenko the straight and eliminating Brenes.
Phil Hellmuth could not dodge bullets today, as his tournament was cut short in a set-over-set confrontation that saw his set of fives shot down by his opponent’s set of aces. Dutch Boyd made a short stack push with a naked pair of kings on the board of . Unfortunately for him, both of his opponents held a six and a seven for a flopped straight and Boyd headed for the rail.
As play approached the end of Level 6, it became clear to most that the event could reach the money by the end of the night. 81 players will receive a payday from this event, with 81st-place prize money set at $2,761. The winner of this event will receive $237,415 and the bracelet. Prior to the dinner break, it appeared that the two chip leaders were sitting on the same table. Jason Mercier held 86,000 in chips and Jesse Rios was right behind him with 72,000.
Both Chris Ferguson and Erik Seidel will have to wait to add to their bracelet total. Ferguson moved all in against two opponents and rivered a straight. However, one of his opponents hit a small flush and Ferguson’s day was done. Shannon Shorr was Seidel’s executioner as he took Seidel out with a heart flush.
As play went into the last level, only 14 players needed to be eliminated to reach the money for the event. By this point, Jason Mercier had a solid chip lead and continued to extend it. He took shots at the short stacks at his table and eliminated several to continually chip up.
Tournament officials decided to continue play until the money was reached. Eventually, two players were eliminated right at the bubble to reach 81 players remaining and to conclude play for the day. Jason Mercier heads into Day 2 with a monster chip lead. He ended the day with 227,000 in chips, 88,000 more than the next-closest player.
The remaining players will return Tuesday at 2 p.m. and should play down to the final table. Now that everyone is in the money, several players should start making moves to challenge Mercier’s chip leadership and take their shot at this bracelet. PokerNews will be on hand to bring all of the exciting action as it occurs.