The 2011/2012 World Series of Poker Circuit continued on Saturday with Day 1 of the Main Event from Harrah’s St. Louis. The tournament was broken into two starting flights, appropriately titled Day 1a and 1b. The former attracted 367 runners, while the latter, which allowed for re-entries, brought in 239 more. The 606-player field surpassed last year’s field of 449 players, though that event was not offered as a re-entry.
Last year, WSOP Circuit phenom Kyle Cartwright captured his third gold ring by winning the Main Event, not to mention the $142,290 first-place prize. Coincidentally, Cartwright captured his fourth gold ring on Saturday, though it wasn’t in the Main Event. Instead, 22 players returned for Event #10 $1,090 NLHE, which began the day before with 229 players. Cartwright managed to make the final table along with Circuit regulars AP Phahurat and Amanda Musumeci.
Phahurat, who is actually Cartwright's roommate, finished as the runner up. In the final hand, Phahurat got his shorter stack all in preflop holding and was dominated by the of Cartwright. The board ran out and it was all over.
Cartwright's four rings put him just one behind all-time ring winner Mark "Pegasus" Smith. He collected his $53,354 prize and immediately entered the Day 1b Main Event flight to attempt a title defense. Unfortunately for him, he got all in preflop in a five-bet pot holding against and was dealt a bad beat to eliminate him from the tournament. The good news is that because Cartwright didn't play Day 1a (he was busy winning his fourth WSOP Circuit gold ring in Event #10), he has the option to rebuy at the start of Day 2. He'll start with just a 20 big-blind stack, but Cartwright told PokerNews that’s his plan.
If you want to add another interesting wrinkle to the Cartwright/Phahurat story, their other roommate, Tripp Kirk, took 12th in Event #10, entered the Main Event, and then went on to bag 113,900, enough to make him the Day 1 chip leader.
While Cartwright and company had to wait until the second flight to play the Main, others took a shot on Day 1a. Some pros that did and managed to survive were Kurt Jewell, Casey Cavanaugh, Dennis Phillips, Scott Clements, Huy Nguyen and “Pegasus.”
Another familiar face that advanced was La Sengphet, who became involved in a big hand on last hand of the flight. It began when an early-position player opened for 2,300 only to have a middle-position player three bet to 4,800. Sengphet then moved all in from the cutoff for 15,400. She nonchalantly tossed her chips in the pot and seemed to broadcast she was ready and willing to gamble.
The player in the small blind then tanked and asked for a count from the MP player. Eventually the small blind moved all in and drove the other players from the hand.
By this time, Sengphet's better half, David Clark, had come over from his table to sweat the action and even gave her a good-luck kiss. When the flop fell , Sengphet's supporters on the rail went crazy and she excitedly gave them all double high fives. Neither the turn nor river changed a thing, and Sengphet advanced to Day 2 along with her beau.
Unfortunately not everyone was so lucky on Day 1a. Many players fell and opted to re-enter on Day 1b, including Ben Smith, Joe Hebda, Seneca Easley, Everrett Carlton, Sam Barnhart and Drazen Ilich.
They were joined by some new players such as Musumeci, Phahurat, Charles “Woody” Moore, Paul Harris, Jennifer Parrish and music superstar and St. Louis native, Nelly. Unfortunately for the Grammy Award winning hip hop artist, he was unable to survive the day and was eliminated in Level 7 after getting all in preflop holding offsuit against the of Richard Harrington. The board bricked for both players and Harrington sent Nelly to the rail.
Musumeci was well on her way to a strong finish in the Main Event when disaster struck just minutes before night’s end. We didn’t catch the hand, but she took to Twitter to explain what happened:
Had stack to 60k. Just lost almost all of it when i flopped j66 holding the jj. Got it in otr vs quads wow for 100k pot 5min before baggingFollow @TheReaLMander
Musumeci managed to survive the day, albeit with less chips than she had hoped. Others who punched their ticket to Day 2 in the second flight were the aforementioned reentries, as well as big stacks Thomas Conway, Bill Byrnes, Peter Brooks and Raj Dhanakula.
Notable WSOP Circuit Harrah’s St. Louis Day 1 Chip Counts
Day 2 will commence at Noon CST with approximately 300 players looking to play down to the money and as close to the final table as they can get. Unfortunately we’re not able to tell you much about the prize pool or how many players will be paid, as registration for the tournament is open right up until the start of Day 2.
Be sure to follow the action from the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s St. Louis right here on PokerNews as our Live Reporting Team will be on hand to bring you all the action and eliminations.