The 2012 World Series of Poker is officially under way at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The series kicked off on Sunday with the Event #1: $500 Employees No Limit Hold'em, starting at just after noon local time. This traditional launch of the series is a closed event honoring casino employees with their own bracelet event.
The tournament began after WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel introduced longtime poker dealer Richard Turnbull to announce the first “Shuffle Up and Deal” of the series. After 11 levels of play, only 46 players were left, led by Chiab Saechao. They will return on Monday at 1:00 p.m. to play down to a winner.
Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em
The first WSOP event of the year registered 732 entrants, 118 fewer than last year’s record total. The top 81 finishers will share in the over $329,400 prize pool. Those who survived the money bubble are guaranteed at least $820. But all eyes are on the first place prize of $70,859 and the coveted gold bracelet. There were a number of famous names and faces in Sunday’s tournament. Defending champion Sean Drake, pro Karina Jett, WSOP executive director Ty Stewart, and tournament director Matt Savage all took part. Unfortunately, of that group, only Stewart was able to survive to Day 2.
Because of the relatively small starting stack (T3,000), players busted at a blistering pace. Nearly half the field were eliminated in the first three levels. Jett was knocked out when she took her short stack and a weak ace against an opponent’s pocket queens. Savage had an up-and-down day that ended down after he pushed in his last 700 from under the gun. The table folded around to the big blind who called the additional 400. Savage was ahead with versus until the board ran out .
The bubble burst during Level 9 when Joshua Bailey, in the big blind, put his last 500 at risk by calling the all-in bet of his opponent in the small blind. Bailey showed and his opponent turned over . Bailey stayed behind as the board came and the remaining players were in the money.
Matthew Wilmot propelled himself to one of the largest chip stacks with a tough call just before the end of the day. With blinds at 800/1,600, Wilmot opened to 4,200 from early position and found a single caller in the big blind. The flop came and the big blind open shoved for nearly 40,000. Wilmot tanked and started talking to himself before making the hero call. He was thrilled to see the big blind turn over . Wilmot was ahead with for the ace-high flush draw and stayed ahead after the turn and river. He finished the day third in chips with 122,800.
At the end of Level 11, 46 players were left to bag and tag their chips for the night. Saechao leads going into the final day of play with 150,600, followed closely by James Routos with 146,900. Also still in the hunt are one of three remaining women players, Carisa Schweisberger, in seventh place with 76,400; and Stewart, in 10th place with 69,900.
Action resumes at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) and you can follow it on our live reporting blog.
On Monday, Day 2 of Event #1 will play down to the final table as the casino employees continue their battle for the first bracelet of the series. Also, the first open event of the series will get under way. Event #2: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, will start at 1200 PDT (2000 BST) and is expected to boast a large field.
Video of the Day
Be sure to keep your eyes on the PokerNews video page all summer long, because Lynn Gilmartin, Sarah Grant, and Kristy Arnett will be bringing you interviews, updates, and plenty more from the 2012 World Series of Poker.