Poker is defined largely by its American heritage on Mississippi river boats and dusty Texas back roads. The variant played here at the World Series of Poker takes its name from those areas in the Lone Star state. But, by name and definition, this tournament is an international event. From Russia, to Costa Rica, back across the pond to the UK and back to Amarillo, this is no longer only America's game. It's a world contest and open to anyone who can find a way to pay $10,000 American at the cage.
Nevertheless, Day 1B of the World Series began on the anniversary of its home country's independence. It played out while families barbequed and fireworks exploded over the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Nearly 1,160 players showed up on this American holiday to play the second of four Day 1s. Combined with yesterday's field, nearly 2,500 people have entered the Main Event with two Day 1s left to go. Whether it was the holiday atmosphere or slightly smaller crowd, most folks here agreed it was more subdued than the day previous, and certainly more low key than we'll see on the rest of this holiday weekend.
It's a bit of an odd relationship here at the PokerStars Blog. Only one-third of the blogging crew here sits under the American flag. The other two fly the Union Jack, which makes American Independence Day a contentious time. If there was such a battle among the members of Team PokerStars Pro, it came out with the same score. John Duthie and Vicky Coren stayed alive for the UK. Vanessa Rousso (who, admittedly, maintains duel citizenship in the USA and France) represented the stars and stripes.
Also going to Day 2 are PokerStars-sponsored players Kathy Liebert and Alexander Kravchenko.
As we've mentioned many times here, PokerStars qualified 2,008 players for this 2008 Main Event. Dozens of those players were here today and are still in contention going into Day 2.
Cero Zuccarello first featured on our radar this morning, when we received an e-mail to email@example.com from a lady named Erin in Madison, Wisconsin. "My husband, Cero Zuccarello, qualified through Poker Stars," wrote Erin. "He is awesome--that's all you need to know! Our four-year-old son Dario and I, as well as the rest of our families, are eagerly rooting him on."
With such a glowing reference, we checked in with Cero early in the day, before there had been any real fluctuation in his chip count. But checking back on regular intervals throughout the day proved to be a reliable way to test out chip-counting skills as his stack swelled level-on-level. Toward the end of the night, he was pushing 70,000, more than three times the starting stack and good for the top 25 percent in the field.
Michael "SirWatts" Watson was another qualifier bringing a sparkling online game to the biggest stage. He was sat next to the former World Champion Robert Varkonyi, but ran over the table, appearing near the top of every chip count since about level one and ending the night in the top handful with close to 100,000.
SirWatts, from Toronto, Canada, represented his country at the PokerStars World Cup of Poker in Barcelona last summer, but today is looking after No 1. With a huge stack already, he is a national ambassador who is one to watch.
Joining those qualifiers in the hunt for the Main Event bracelet is Belgian qualifier Bart Verbanck who is in Vegas for his first time. The video blog team interviewed him today in preparation for his start here on Day 1C tomorrow.
Watch WSOP: Bart Verbanck Online Qualifier on PokerStars.tv
Selected chip counts for Day 1B can be found on our 2008 World Series Chip Counts page. When Harrah's provides us with a full list of chip counts, we will post it on the same page.
This is not the only place to get your fix for World Series news. Our video blogging team is working tirelessly and turning out some great stuff at the freshly-launched PokerStars.tv. Be sure to head over there and watch a few videos. You will also get the password for the PokerStars.tv freeroll on PokerStars.
Here's is the video blog wrap up from Day 1B.
Watch WSOP 08: Day 1b Update on PokerStars.tv
Also scheduled to appear on Day 1C are Team PokerStars Pros Andre Akkari, Chris Moneymaker, Gavin Griffin, Joe Hachem, Isabelle Mercier, and Steve Paul-Ambrose.
Finally tonight, whether you survived or or you're sitting at a bar somewhere tonight, be sure to remember the PokerStars Burlesque Party at Rain on Monday night. Need incentive? Free food, open bar, and celebrity guests. Click here to download your invitation.
For a complete look back at our coverage from Day 1B, visit any of the links below.
Starting again in the Main Event
Facing the champion at centre court
It's all about what you wear
Steam trails Raymer from Amazon Room
Stepping up to the big time
The Moneymaker Experience
SirWatts is the lord of the manor
Catching up at the break