Canadian Victor Greeley, an online poker specialist, emerged as the top dog with 195,300 in chips as Day 1 of Event #7 of the 2009 World Series of Poker, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em, drew to a close. Greeley’s closest challenger is Jerry “Mike” Fowler at 183,200. Other returning big stacks will include Gary Tang (145,300), Jacobo Fernandez (123,000), and Paul Dominski (102,300).
Today’s event saw a total of 2971 players plunk down their money for a seat, just short of the 2801 that had been projected by WSOP officials. Play got underway shortly after noon. Players were given 4,500 in tournament chips to begin the day, with one-hour levels and initial blinds of 25/50. One of the usual coincidences of the day was that Grant and Blair Hinkle, brothers who famously each won a WSOP bracelet in 2008, were randomly assigned to sit at the same table for much of the day.
The day’s main theme – and really its only order of business – was eliminations, with 83 percent of the starting field not surviving to Day 2. As usual with WSOP events of this type, the knockouts came fast and furious, averaging 4.4 eliminations per minute over the course of the day. Several well-known professionals were among the early casualties. Bill Gazes fell soon after the second level began. Holding Q-Q, he flopped top set and got all the chips in, only to see his opponent’s open-ended straight draw get there on the river. Dario Minieri and Evan McNiff busted at about the same time.
Freddy Deeb and Jean-Robert Bellande held out only slightly longer. Deeb and his opponent both made a heart flush on the turn, but Deeb’s was smaller. Bellande got all his money in with A-J suited on a jack-high board, but lost to his opponent’s K-J when the three-outer king fell on fifth street. Notable exits in Level 3 included Can Kim Hua, Morgan Machina, Jason Gray, Joe Sebok, Erik Cajelais, and David Singer. Level 4 was the end of the road for Esther Taylor, Barry Shulman, James Mackey, Kristy Gazes, Dennis Phillips, and Vanessa Rousso.
In Level 5, Theo Tran ran his into an opponent’s for top pair on the flop of . Tran could not improve and lost all of his chips. Also exiting at close to the same time were Erica Schoenberg, T.J. Cloutier, and Maria Mayrinck. Those getting the boot in Level 6 included John Juanda, Jerry Yang, Bryan Micon, Chris Ferguson, Justin Bonomo, and Eric Liu.
Phil Hellmuth also could not survive the melee. He called an opponent’s all-in bet on the turn, holding for top pair and a flush draw. The other player, though, showed a set of queens, and Hellmuth could not pick up a fifth heart on the river. Witnesses said that he exited not too quietly, muttering comments under his breath.
By the dinner break, only 889 players, 30 percent of the original field, were left in the game. J.J. Liu got to enjoy the meal ticket that the Rio provides to all players, but her dessert was more bitter than sweet. She pushed her chips in on the flop of with an overpair: in the hole. Another player, however, held for a straight, flush, and apparent straight flush draw (though he couldn’t have known that Liu held the card he needed for the straight flush), and he wasn’t going anywhere. The on the turn ended the suspense quickly. One could say the after-dinner unpleasantness may have given Liu, um, heartburn. Doug Lee and J.C. Tran each followed Liu out the door in short order.
Humberto Brenes held on through the beginning of Level 8, but then lost a classic race with his versus , all in preflop. When the first three board cards came , Brenes’ famous “chark” was speared through the gills. No runner-runner miracle would come for the Costa Rican. Danny Wong and Liv Boeree also left the Rio during this level. Bustouts in Level 9 included James Akenhead and Nick Binger. Blair Hinkle, too, ran out of chips. He was in the small blind with and raised, receiving a call from the big blind, who held . The flop came 4-5-6 rainbow; top pair and bottom two pair were both willing to shove it all in, with the latter holding up.
The 337 remaining contestants are already close to the money; the total prize pool of $3,809,715 will be divided by the top 297 finishers, with payouts ranging from a minimum of $2,742 for those just squeaking into a cash, to $666,853 for the man or woman who holds all the chips at the end. Recognizable names still alive with a shot at the big check include Brandon Cantu, Shaun Deeb, Alex Jacob, Lee Childs, “Minneapolis” Jim Meehan, and Grant Hinkle.
Play will resume at 2:00 Wednesday, and is scheduled to continue until a final table is determined. Join PokerNews as we cover all the action for Day 2 of Event #7, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em.