Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP, made a short speech to announce the beginning of the 45th WSOP and then asked the most important question: "Do you guys like money?" Cannons around the tournament room then shot out $1 bills while "Get Money" by Junior Mafia blasted through the speakers. A total of $10,000 drifted down to the casino floor and players scrambled to get their hands on as much as they could, a spectacular start to the series that took everyone by surprise.
The $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em Tournament is the first bracelet event of the series and at the start of play there were 756 entrants, but that would rise to 876 by the time registration closed at the start of level 5.
That number generated a total prize pool of $394,200 with 90 places being paid. A min-cash would be worth $886 and the eventual winner will walk away with a cool $82,835 and a WSOP gold bracelet.
At the end of 11 levels of play it is Corey Emery with 164,900 who is out in front. Emery is a poker dealer who hails from Simi Valley California and he grabbed the lead at the end of the day when he turned a straight and won a massive pot when his opponent called his river shove with jacks.
Next in chips is Jay Graunstadt who has 125,000 chips. Graunstadt is a 35 year old resident of Las Vegas who works as a casino host at The Cosmopolitan. This is his first WSOP cash although he did play the 2006 NLHE Shootout. He also regularly cashes the Caesars Mega Stack events. He proved his skills throughout the day, playing an aggressive game, putting opponents to the test and of course getting lucky when he needed to.
Other big stacks returning tomorrow include Aaron Henderson on 115,700 and Peter Alba with 105,000.
Mo Nuwwarah, a Live Reporter, is the last remaining PokerNews Employee bagging up 46,200. Looking drained he described his day as a rollercoaster.
Bust outs after the first few levels were fast and furious. By the second break of the day the field was down to 351 and by the dinner break at the end of level 6 that number would fall to 196.
Senior PokerNews Editor Chad Holloway, the defending champ, fell towards the end of level 5 when he got his last 4,100 in from late position and was called by Sergio Trevino. Holloway had and Trevino flipped over . The board ran out and Holloway was eliminated.
Bernard Lee ,who finished 13th in the WSOP Main Event in 2005, fell soon after when John Taylor limped in from early position and the two blinds including Lee checked through to see a three-way flop of . Taylor bet 1,100 which Lee called. After the turn, Lee three-bet shoved with but Taylor made the call with for the nut straight. The river completed the board and Lee was gone.
Having kicked off the tournament in fine style Ty Stewart was short on chips quite early on but bided his time to build it back up. Stewart eventually busted when he got the remainder of his stack all in preflop from the cut-off against Danielle Barille on the button. Stewart had against the of Barille and the board ensured his demise. At least he won his last longer bet with Holloway as a minor consolation.
Action slowed down a little as the bubble approached and it was in the penultimate level of the night that the dubious honour fell to Mike Connors, a poker dealer at Harrahs, who exited in 91st place. Connors opened for 2,400 and was called by big stack Jay Graunstadt. They saw a flop of and when Connors checked Graunstadt bet 6,000 and Connors moved all in. Graunstadt quickly called and when the tournament director arrived he instructed them to turn over their hands. Connorshekd but the of Graunstadt had flopped a straight. The turn and river saw all the remaining players make the money.
The Casino Employees Tournament resumes tomorrow at 1 p.m. when the remaining 51 players will play down to a winner. Join the PokerNews Live Reporting team as we chart the path of one player to glory, a huge payday and the coveted gold bracelet.