The field was smaller for Day 1b of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, likely due in part to the July 4th holiday. A total of 873 players entered the second Day 1 flight, down from 1,116 on Day 1a. The final two flights of Day 1 typically hold bigger fields, so it remains to be seen how the final tally will stack up compared to recent years. More civilians and poker superstars took to the felt on Day 1b, as boxing champ Winky Wright joined WSOP champs Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker, Doyle Brunson, and Amarillo Slim Preston in the Day 1b field. Other former Main Event winners in the field included Jim Bechtel, Chris Ferguson, and Carlos Mortensen. But it was Brandon Demes of Tempe Arizona who closed out the day as the chip leader.
Day 1b was something of a family affair, as Doyle Brunson was joined in the Main Event by his son Todd and daughter Pam, while Barry Greenstein and son Joe Sebok also took the field. Jack Ury broke his own record for the oldest entrant in the WSOP Main Event by returning for another year at the age of 96. Other big names who showed up for Day 1b included Hoyt Corkins, Kara Scott, Grant Levy, and Alex Kravchenko.
Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event in 2003, the last time the total number of entrants was less than 1,000. Considered by many to be responsible for the 21st century “poker boom,” Moneymaker got nothing going on Day 1b and busted early. He got all his money in preflop with , but found himself drawing thin against Joe Villacci’s . When the board ran out , Villacci’s aces up was enough to send the former champ to the rail. Other early eliminations included David Steicke and boxing champ Winky Wright.
Jeremiah Smith picked up an early double-up when his aces held against an opponent’s kings, but the “Cash Plays” host was knocked out shortly after the dinner break in brutal fashion. All the money went in on the turn with the board reading . Smith tabled pocket threes for bottom set, only to watch Jim Bookstaff show pocket aces for top set. The on the river filled up both players, but that was no good for Smith, and he headed to the rail. Other Day 1b bust-outs included David “The Dragon” Pham, Vicky Coren, and living legend Doyle Brunson.
Brunson was another victim of pocket threes that flopped bottom set, this time against an opponent with a double belly-buster straight draw holding 6-5 on the flop of 9-7-3. Brunson was drawing thin after the turn brought a four to fill his opponent's straight, and when the board failed to pair on the river, Brunson exited to an ovation from the rest of the players.
Pascal Perrault busted just before the last break of the day when his aces were cracked to send him to the rail, and Dustin Woolf took a brutal beat to go out near the end of Day 1b. Woolf opened for a raise from late position, and called the small blind’s all-in move with . Woolf was the player at risk, but felt fairly safe when his opponent tabled . But the board ran out to make a flush for Woolf’s opponent as “Neverwin” headed home.
As the closing bell rang on Day 1b, Brandon Demes was sitting atop the leaderboard with 137,075. Other big stacks included Nick Maimone, Jim Bookstaff, and Jesse Rios (pictured), while familiar players like Fabrice Soulier, Sam Khouiss, Shaun Deeb, Greg Raymer, and Alex Kravchenko also made it through the day. Other notable survivors included Amarillo Slim Preston, Juha Helppi, Luca Pagano, Jerrod Ankenman, and Ali Eslami.
Join PokerNews at noon local time for all the action as Day 1c kicks off at the WSOP Main Event.