One hundred and fifty-four of the world's top poker players descended on London's Empire Casino today to play in the third-annual World Series of Poker Europe's third event, a double-chance Pot-Limit Omaha event carrying a £5,000 price tag. Players began with a 10,000 chip starting stack along with a 10,000 rebuy chip that was redeemable at any time during the first three levels. By day's end, only 36 remained in the hunt for a share of the £770,000 prize pool with Finnish high-stakes online sensation Jani "KObyTAPOUT" Vilmunen leading the pack.
After making the final table of Event 2, which played out earlier in the day, both Robin Keston and newly minted bracelet winner Erik Cajelais both bought in but couldn't make it past the first few levels. Although the field was littered with poker's best, one table emerged as the event's "Table of Death" featuring Chris Ferguson, Roberto Romanello, Joe Beevers, Allen Cunningham, Jeff Madsen, Chris Bjorin and Yuval Bronshtein.
Phil Ivey was eliminated only a few minutes after play began, whiffing against online wunderkind Shaun Deeb. The seven-time bracelet winner wasn't the only owner of WSOP hardware who failed to survive the day; Jeff Madsen, Vitaly Lunkin and 2009 Player of the Year Jeffrey Lisandro all found the rail before the end of Day 1. On the other end of the spectrum, EPT champion Sandra Naujoks, Sorel Mizzi,Noah Boeken, and Dave Callaghan built their chip stacks up nicely and will return to action tomorrow.
While pot-limit Omaha was taking center stage, Paul Zimbler continued on his attempt to break the record for the world's longest-ever heads-up poker match. With Zimbler tucked away at a corner table on the Empire's upper level, strange yelps and cheers could often be heard emanating from his direction as he continuously downed energy drinks in the hope of staying awake. As of press time, he's still back there.
At the end of the day, a table came together that would normally be found in a high-stakes online cash game. Tom "durrrr" Dwan found himself seated at the same table as the hot-running Ashton "theASHMAN103" Griffin who is up over $3 million in online cash games over the last few months. Both players will return for Day 2, Dwan with 35,000 chips and Griffin with 120,000.
Here's a look at the top five in chips:
Jani Vilmunen - 300,000
Sorel Mizzi - 155,000
Howard Lederer - 135,000
Ashton Griffin - 120,000
Dave Callaghan - 110,000
Play resumes tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time in London. Check out the PokerNews Live Reporting page for updates and chip counts straight from the floor of the Empire Casino.