A somewhat bijou field turned out for the World Series of Poker Europe £5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event at London's Empire Casino — at 120 the field was markedly down from last year's 154 and the previous year's 165. It was theorized that the late start combined with the WCOOP events starting at around suppertime GMT might have kept some of the online pros from taking a shot at this bracelet event. But whatever the reason for the dip in numbers, it had no effect on the quality of the field, and by the end of the day the 120-strong field was reduced to 49, with Samuel Stein leading the way with 112,600 in chips.
The field, compact though it was, came with some serious poker pedigree — there were at least a couple WSOP bracelets at every table and nary a face not familiar from a TV show or final table somewhere. One particular table featured both the 2010 and 2009 WSOP Players of the Year Frank Kassela and Jeff Lisandro, as well as Joe Beevers, Ted Lawson, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Marty Smyth and Hoyt Corkins. Overnight chip leader Stein turned out to be by far the most successful player. Even Phil Laak, who won his first bracelet in the six-max event around two hours into the PLO, took his late reg seat after only the briefest of celebrations. He made it to the end of Day 1 after 15 straight hours of poker, and proceeds to Day 2 with a below average but very manageable stack. All previous winners of this event - Dario Alioto (2007), Theo Jorgensen (2008) and Jani Vilmunen (2009) — were also in attendance.
In a tournament full of sharks with nary a fish among them, some of the best players in the world fell by the wayside — Phil Ivey, Annette Obrestad, Phil Hellmuth, Jason Mercier, Howard Lederer, John Juanda and Michael Mizrachi were among the roughly 60 percent of the field who didn't make it through the day.
Among those who will be reconvening tomorrow, however, are just as many notable pros. Those with big stacks include Jeff Madsen, Karl Mahrenholz and Barry Greenstein; those with medium sized ones include Chad Brown, Justin "Boosted J" Smith and Phil Laak; and those in some potential trouble come tomorrow include Hoyt Corkins, Vitaly Lunkin and John Racener.
The man to beat when play resumes tomorrow, though, is Samuel Stein, who comes fresh off a 10th place finish at this summer's WSOP $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'em Championship event. After a fantastic day spent largely at the scariest table in the room, he was the only person to break the century mark. He still won't be sleeping too easily though — we're still a long way off the money at 18 players, and this can be a very cruel game.
Play will resume at 3 p.m. local time, playing right down to a final table. Join us back at PokerNews.com for all the action, direct from the Empire Casino floor.