After months of anticipation, the 41st Annual World Series of Poker got under way Friday afternoon with two events. The $500 Casino Employee event kicked things off at the Rio with Kent Washington taking the chip lead into Day 2. In the most prestigious event of the year, the $50,000 Player Championship, it was Erik Sagstrom who claimed the end-of-day chip lead.
Event #1: $500 Casino Employees no-limit hold'em
It's hard to call event #1 star-studded, but this $500 buy-in event will award the first World Series of Poker bracelet the of year so it certainly holds significance. Players started with 3,000 in chips and the biggest names in the field were famed tournament director Jack McClelland, and the WSOP's own Ty Stewart. McClelland survived the day with 17,900, guaranteeing himself a cash, as did Stewart who also cashed but ultimately faded before the chips were bagged as he ran pocket queens into an opponents pocket jacks.
Washinton, who has about 50,000 more than the second-place finisher, reached six-figures when an opponent open-shoved with and Washington woke up with pocket aces. The gave Washington that ever-dreaded sweat, but two blanks on the turn and river sealed it for our Day 1 chip leader.
Jonathan Kotuala sits in second position with 108,700, much of which was accumulated during the last hour of play. Kotuala held and called the all-in push of John Armstrong on a board to see that he had his opponent drawing dead holding . The was inconsequential, sending Armstrong to the rail and Kotula to Day 2.
Follow along with all the updates in our WSOP live reporting pages starting at 2:30 p.m. at the Rio.
Event #2: $50,000 Players Championship Event
While the Casino Event was more of a spring training WSOP warm-up, the eight-game mix $50,000 Player Championship could be considered the all-star game. Featuring the world's greatest poker players who all ponied up more money than most Americans make in a year, all fought to position themselves to get their hands on one of the most coveted WSOP bracelets of the year and the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
Scheduled as a five-day event with a super-slow structure, Day 1 saw Erik Sagstrom more than double his 150,000 starting stack on his way to the chip lead. Sagstrom is followed by cash-game specialist David Oppenheim and the Godfather of poker himself, Doyle Brunson, who bagged up 269,200.
Also moving on to Day 2 were Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Pat Pezzin, Alex Kravchenko, Greg Raymer, Jason Mercier, Noah Boeken, Chad Brown, George Lind, Dario Minieri and Barry Greenstein, who sits tenth with 240,100. Joining them are last year's WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. champion, David Bach, PokerNews' own Tony G, last year's WSOP player-of-the-year Jeffrey Lisandro, and the always dangerous Phil Ivey.
All in all, 116 players took to the felt Friday, and all but 11 will see Day 2 action. Tom "durrrr" Dwan, Marc Karam, and Brian Townsend were each among the busted and will enter the rest of the WSOP $50k lighter in their bankrolls.
Play resumes at the Rio at 3 p.m. and will continue for the next four days, follow along live right here at PokerNews.
In addition to the first two events restarting Saturday at the Rio, the first of a few $1,000 no-limit hold'em events gets under way at noon, as well. The event is already said to have a ridiculous number of entrants, so prepare for lots of action.
We'll have complete coverage of Event #3 in our live reporting pages.
Video of the Day
As with all of our tournament coverage, the lovely PokerNews hostesses will be bringing you plenty of videos from the Rio throughout the summer. In today's video of the day, the ladies give you a quick walk through of the new and improved WSOP tournament area. Enjoy!
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