The 2015 World Series of Poker began rather quietly Wednesday afternoon at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. In what has become a traditional soft start, the Day 1 schedule included just two events, the $565 Casino Employees' No-Limit Hold'em and the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em.
For most of the day, the buzz around the Rio was all about the upcoming $5,000,000 guaranteed Event #5: "The Colossus" $565 No-Limit Hold'em and rumors that some 17,000 players have already registered for it. In the meantime, a paltry 1,100 showed up to get the 2015 WSOP going in the first two events Wednesday.
Stephen Gilbert Leads Final 51 in Event #1
In what has to be considered a calm before this weekend's Colossus storm, the 2015 WSOP kicked off at 12 p.m. Wednesday with the annual $565 Casino Employees' No-Limit Hold'em. The tournament drew 688 entries and played down to just 51 remaining after 15 40-minute levels of play. Taking the overnight lead was one Stephen Gilbert, who barely outpaced most-of-the-day chip leader Blake Robbins.
In all, a $344,000 prizepool was created that saw the top 72 spots get paid. The remaining players are all in the money now with $75,704 and the first WSOP bracelet of the summer awaiting the winner.
Plans are to play down to a champion on Day 2 of the event beginning at 1 p.m. local time Thursday. Here's how the top 10 stand right now:
Ronconi Leads Stacked Field in Event #2
The first open event on the 2015 WSOP schedule started at 4 p.m. Wednesday, drawing a relatively small, but start-studded field. The $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em drew 422 entries, quite a bit less than the mid-schedule $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event that saw 696 players jump in the fray in 2014.
Big names like 2012 WSOP $1,000,000 The Big One for One Drop champ Antonio Esfandiari, 2013 World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic winner Dan Smith, 2011 WSOP $10,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em bracelet winner Joe Ebanks, 2014 WPT Montreal champ Jonathan Jaffe, and WSOP bracelet winner and PokerNews Podcast co-host Jason Somerville were among those building contending stacks.
And while others like two-time WSOP bracelet winner JC Tran, Season X WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock, and 2001 WSOP Main Event champ Carlos Mortensen hit the rail, 2011 WSOP $5,000 Triple Chance No-Limit Hold'em runner-up Darryl Ronconi took the overnight chip lead as the only player over 200,000 in chips.
By the time 10 60-minute levels were through, some 171 players remained. The event created a $1,983,400 prizepool that will pay 45 spots. A min-cash is worth $9,381 and the winner's share will be $466,120, plus the coveted piece of WSOP hardware.
There's still a long way to go however, as Event #2 is a four-day tournament that will resume play for Day 2 at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Also on the schedule Thursday is the start of Event #3: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low at 12 p.m. and Event #4: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout set for 4 p.m.