The stars turned out at the Rio for Day 1a of the World Series of Poker Main Event, as 1,116 players took their seats for Day 1a of the $10,000 World Championship No-Limit Hold'em Event #57. As has become standard at the WSOP Main Event in recent years, poker pros and amateurs were interspersed with stars from the worlds of sporting and entertainment. Taking another shot at WSOP gold in 2009 was actor Brad Garrett, who entertained his tablemates last year. Also in the field were actor Jason Alexander, cricket star Shane Warne, baseball legend Orel Hershiser, and rap superstar Nelly, who entered several events throughout the 2009 WSOP.
Of course, a few poker superstars were interspersed among the amateurs and the celebrities as well. Johnny Chan took to the field on Day 1a, along with fellow Main Event champs Jerry Yang and Berry Johnston. Several players who have already claimed bracelets in 2009 were in the field looking to add to their jewelry cases, including Vitaly Lunkin, Greg Mueller, Zac Fellows, and Roland de Wolfe.
Also in the field were Jennifer Tilly, Eli Elezra, Gavin Smith, Tony G, and Nikolay Evdakov. Phil Laak played Day 1a in his own persona this year, after showing up at last year’s Main Event in full-face makeup and disguise. Laak’s antics led to a new rule at the WSOP this year barring players from hiding their true identity at the table.
John Phan had a rough run early on Day 1a as he picked up two premium hands in short order, only to see them both cracked to send him home early. Phan lost most of his stack in a big hand with when he rivered a set on the board of . Phan’s opponent check-raised the turn and led out on the river, leading Phan to just flat-call the river with his top set. His opponent showed for the turned straight.
Phan got the rest of his chips in a few hands later holding . Phan led out on the flop, and an opponent in the small blind check-raised. Phan called all in and was well ahead of his opponent's . He stayed in the lead on the turn, but the small blind rivered the to make two pair and send Phan to the rail during the first level of the day. Other early eliminations included Mike Sowers, Davidi Kitai, and Masaaki Kagawa, who went out in a classic cooler, running his pocket kings into pocket aces.
Nelly also busted on Day 1a when his pocket queens were outflopped by Jeremy Ausmus’ 9-10 on the J-9-9 board. Nelly couldn’t catch another queen, and he was done. Freddy Deeb turned Broadway with on the board of , but it wasn’t enough to keep him alive as Keven Stammen rivered queens full of kings with to send Deeb to the rail.
Other eliminations on Day 1a included Mark Vos, Wooka Kim, Zac Fellows, and Orel Hershiser. Hershiser got his money in good with 9-8 on the board of . Luke Patten was his lone opponent with J-10 for the up-and-down straight draw. Patten missed his straight draw but picked up the on the river for the better two pair, and Hershiser was done.
Day 1a was a rough one for 2007 champ Jerry Yang, who couldn’t make it through the minefield to advance to Day 2. Yang found himself short-stacked late in the day and shipped it in preflop with . He found one caller with , but picked up a pair on the flop to take the lead. The on the turn swung the momentum away from Yang, but he still had outs to stay alive. None of them included the , so when that hit the river, Yang was done. Other late bust-outs included Isaac Haxton and Allen Cunningham.
By the time the dust settled on Day 1a, 821 players remained out of the original 1,116 who started the day. Redmond Lee held the top spot on the leaderboard with 134,275, as a collection of top pros, amateurs, and actors chased him. Among the other healthy stacks at the close of the day were Billy Kopp, David Sands, Lex Veldhuis, Eli Elezra, Jason Riesenberg, Tom Schneider, Joe Serock, Sandra Naujoks, and John Hennigan. Actor Jason Alexander made a strong run on Day 1a, finishing in 30th place with one of the biggest stacks in the room. Other notable survivors included Tony G., Roland de Wolfe, Phil Laak, Lana Maier, and Jimmy Fricke.
Join PokerNews at noon local time for all the live updates from Day 1b of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. The top ten players from Day 1a action:
Lee, Redmond -- 134,275
Docquier, Jean -- 122,755
Gianluca, Marcucci -- 118,000
Buermann, Peter -- 117,400
Mourshaki, Ebrahim -- 116,025
Botond, Balazs -- 113,000
Grishchuk, Alexander -- 111,875
Guinther, Jimmie -- 110,425
Rhea, Arthur -- 109,275
Luht, Joe -- 108,125