The smaller – by far – of the two Day 2 flights at the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event kicked off yesterday, with 1,476 players returning to the Rio for a shot at poker’s richest prize. Fewer than half of them made it through the minefield, as only 630 players were left standing at the end of Day 2a. Eric Cloutier ended the day as the chip leader on a stack of 383,500. Ed Perry also bagged up an impressive chip stack as play drew to a close, as did Brandon Demes and Greg “FBT” Mueller.
The action kicked off quickly on Day 2a, as the chorus “All in and a call” rang throughout the room. Gus Hansen was the victim in one of those big hands, busting in the first level of the day when the nuts couldn’t hold. Hansen called a bet on the flop from Norman Gautron, then raised when the hit the turn. Gautron moved all in over the top with pocket threes, but Hansen tabled A-J for the nut straight. But the nuts on the turn was no good on the river as the paired the board and made a full house for Gautron to send Hansen packing early. Other early eliminations on Day 2a included Sandra Naujoks, Johnny Chan, Richard Brodie, and Jennifer Tilly.
Tilly's partner in crime, Phil Laak, joined her on the rail later in the day after he lost a coin toss for the last of his stack. Other Day 2a eliminations included Tony G, Barry Greenstein, Raymond Davis, and Jason Mercier. Jack Ury broke his own record as the oldest player in the WSOP, but he failed to make it out of Day 2 when he busted holding top pair on the board. All the money went in on the turn, and Ury’s was no good against his opponent’s . Ury exited the Amazon Room to an ovation from the rest of the players in the field.
Mel Judah saw his tournament end just before the dinner break in a hand that worked out exactly as he’d planned – until the deck refused to cooperate on the river. Judah saw a three-way flop of , and everyone checked around to see the come on the turn. After his two opponents both checked, Judah moved in for more than four times the pot, a huge overbet that induced one fold and one call from an opponent holding . Judah had his opponent dead to four outs as he showed for the boat, but the river brought the to give his opponent the better full house and send Judah to the rail.
The pace of eliminations picked up even more after dinner, as Todd Brunson, Alex Kravchenko, Billy “The Croc” Argyros, and Mike Matusow all hit the rail before their dessert could settle. The voluble Matusow never got on track on Day 2a, and pushed the last pittance of his stack in with . He got action from one opponent, who tabled pocket kings to silence “The Mouth.” Other bust-outs on the evening of Day 2a included Gavin Smith, Jamie Pickering, former World Champ Amarillo Slim Preston, Dewey Tomko, and comedian Brad Garrett. Garrett entertained his tablemates to the bitter end, but finally called off the last of his chips with second pair on the board of . Garrett’s was no good against the of his opponent, and he was done.
As the end of Day 2a drew near, Eric Cloutier moved up the leaderboard at the expense of Juha Helppi. Helppi did exactly what he was supposed to do with pocket kings: he got all his chips into the middle of the table. The only problem was that Cloutier woke up with pocket aces, which held up to bust Helppi and bag up a huge stack of chips for Cloutier. Other players who made it through Day 2a included Andy Black, Mike Sexton, Jimmy Fricke, Thor Hansen, Tom Schneider, Kara Scott, Erik Seidel, Jason Alexander, Vitaly Lunkin, Roland de Wolfe, and Greg Raymer.
Join PokerNews at noon local time for the start of Day 2b, with more than double the players after the capacity Day 1d crowd.