The field for Day 1b of The Big Event was artificially small as most of the poker world stayed at home in their underwear to grind one of the biggest Sundays in online poker history. Still, 154 warriors of the live felt turned up at The Bicycle Casino in California to play, rounding out the total field for the event at 417 players. When the dust settled after eight levels of action, less than 100 players remained in the room, and amateur Shawn Hart was sitting atop the Day 1b pack with 151,900 chips in his bag.
While a pair of former WSOP Main Event champions were dueling at the NBC Heads-Up Championship in Las Vegas, The Bike welcomed its own pair of world champs to the felt. Joe Cada and Jerry Yang were both in the house, but only one survived his opening flight. After dodging a bullet with pocket aces in the first level, Cada's day was mostly spent hovering around the chip average with a high point of just about 45,000. His stack was progressively whittled away over the course of the later levels, though, and his day was finally put to an end. He only had about 7,000 chips left when he made his move with during the last level of the night. The player in the cutoff seat woke up with to make the call, and the river was the end for the 2009 world champ.
Yang's day, on the other hand, began with him bluffing off about half his stack, and he had dropped under 10,000 by the time the third level came around. The 2007 champ rallied, though, and “The Shadow” ended the day with 52,400 chips with which to fight the good fight on Day 2. He is just a few chips below the average.
Apart from the champs, the field was stacked with other bracelet winners, as well. Daniel Negreanu, Scott Clements, Men Nguyen, John Hennigan, Kathy Liebert, Barry Greenstein, Hasan Habib, Daniel Alaei, Carter Phillips, Jason Young, and Jennifer Tilly were all here looking to add another major title to their WSOP accomplishments, and Negreanu, in particular, had a good day on the felt. Also in the field was November Niner John Dolan, nearly-November-Niner Matt Affleck, funnyman Jason Alexander, Frenchman Arnaud Mattern, and the best laugh in poker, that of Dwyte Pilgrim.
The final table of the 2010 NAPT LA was well-represented on Day 1b, as well. Champion Joe Tehan was in the house, seated with fifth-place finisher Ray Henson. Both men survived their opening day with chips to play with, but the same could not be said for one Al Grimes. Grimes took home a quarter-million dollars for his third-place finish at The Bike last year, but his Big Event came to a big and early end. On a flop, Grimes and Ken Lawson got it all in for the early double-up. Grimes' pocket tens were ahead, but Lawson's was drawing live to the straight flush. The third heart came on the river, and just like that, Grimes' day was done. Others making early exits were Tilly, Alexander, Nikolay Evdakov, and Philippe Plouffe.
Scott Clements brought his trademark venti Starbucks with him today, but “BigRiskky” also came toting his laptop so he could multitable his way through this Sunday. It was just a couple of hours before Clements ran out of chips online, but he was in no danger of going busto in The Big Event. A methodical march through Day 1b was capped off in the penultimate level when his found all-in action from an opponent with . Clements flopped an ace and rivered the other one, and the quads bumped him up close to the century mark in chips, among the leaders. He cooled off a bit during the final few orbits but still bagged up a respectable 78,800 chips to close the day.
With an impressive cast of characters in the small field, Daniel Negreanu was clearly the man to watch for the bulk of Day 1b. Despite being a little irked about the rolling start this event employs, Negreanu got right to work once his late-registration table filled up. It wasn't long before Negreanu had upped his stack to 40,000, and he got another increase when his bested Eddy Sabat's on a board. A short while later, he boosted up to 70,000 when his made quads on a board. As the tables were broken throughout the evening, Negreanu was forced to share working space with Liebert, Hennigan, and Pilgrim. It didn't much matter. Soon after that table came together, Negreanu found in the hole, and an opponent's was no match as the board ran . With that, Negreanu crested the century mark and ended up stuffing his bag with 111,500 chips.
Amateur Shawn Hart stocked up the most chips today, but the entire Day 1b field is chasing Chris DeMaci, last year's runner-up and the Day 1a chip leader. DeMaci finished his starting flight with well over 200,000 chips on Saturday and will be setting the pace when the field combines for Day 2 on Monday. With the 130 survivors from the first flight, Monday's returning field should top off right around 225 players with a scheduled start at noon PST.
Our Live Reporting team is on hand at The Bike to bring you all of the action straight from the tournament floor, and we hope you'll join us here Monday as the field plays down into the money. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter to keep up with all the latest poker news!
We have one more $15,000 Sunday Million Freeroll with PokerStars left to qualify for, with $1,000 to the winner and 260 tournament tickets, including 45 Sunday Million Tickets on offer.