Day 1b at the 2009 World Series Main Event started with some very familiar words. Sure, Doyle Brunson uttered "Shuffle up and deal," but barely had he done so than an even more regular refrain began to ring out: "All in and call on table X!"
The eliminations started exceptionally early today, and right in front of media row. Down on table 77, about five yards from where this is being written, the PokerStars qualifier Angelo Ricci got it all in within about ten minutes of play beginning. Ricci's aces stayed good against Angelo Miele's pocket queens, vaulting the Canadian into the definitive early chip lead and sending Miele to the rail.
Ricci built impressively on his speedy start, bagging up more than 50,000 at the end of the day. But it was Miele who really set the tone: players followed him out the door with startling regularity, making their bids for independence on the most appropriate of days.
Many were liberated from their chip stacks by a pair of PokerStars qualifiers on table 38 named Craig Hopkins and Vadim Gruzglin. Those two were neighbours at the table and on the leaderboard throughout today's action, each scaling the dizzy heights of 120,000-ish in the penultimate level, and remaining there at day's end.
The humble Englishman Hopkins, who we first encountered when he made the final table of the PCA in January 2008, put his surge down to good fortune: "I had kings and hit the nut flush. I had queens and made queens full," Hopkins said. "Every time I played I seemed to hit two pair," he continued, striking a blow for the vanquished Brits on American Independence Day. Gruzglin was similarly ruthless, and got his monsters to stand up. His aces gave him a double up, then his kings knocked out two others: one shoving with tens, another with ace-king.
There were mixed fortunes for Team PokerStars Pro -- although they at least had each other for company for much of the day. The random table draw pitted Luca Pagano against Barry Greenstein on one table and Alex Kravchenko against Greg Raymer on another.
All four of them were still battling at day's close (Pagano with 43,000, Greenstein with 19,000, Raymer with 45,000 and Kravchenko with 55,000), but the players consigned to a solitary fight -- Vicky Coren and Chris Moneymaker -- both fell at the first. Coren's set of queens were no good during level three ("There's no hand I would've played differently. I was just comically, efficiently doomed" she tweeted later), while Moneymaker's Twitter followers got the following: "Well that was fun. Was shortstacked and pushed with 10/10. Got called by A/A. Busted."
We also met the PokerStars qualifiers Bryan Kerr and Dion Jones today. Kerr survived his day on the feature table with 32,000, while Jones shimmied up to 31,000 at the end. It's also going to be worth keeping an eye on the Team PokerStars Holland Pro Joep van den Bijgaart, who finished with 64,000, which is 4,000 more than the fearsome PokerStars tournament force Shaun Deeb's 60,000.
A grand total of 873 players joined the fray on day 1b, and the precise number remaining, as well as their chip counts, will be made known to us overnight and posted here. Tomorrow is day 1c, the third of four opening days. As ever, all the action will be on PokerStars blog.
In the meantime, take a look back at today's action with each, any, some,
none (that wouldn't work) of the following links to the day 1b coverage.
Intro to day 1b
Team Pro cannibalism
Three from Down Under up here
Mr Unpronounceable. (Joep van den Bijgaart)
Lights, Bryan Kerr, action...
The latest from Vicky Coren
Freeroll to the big dance
Couple days, couple thousand people
And remember, PokerStars blog is an equal opportunities employer, which means we also tolerate people afflicted by Swedish, Spanish, Dutch or German. Video coverage is always available at PokerStars.tv and all of today's photos, including this one of some fireworks, come © Joe Giron/IMPDI Worldwide.
Happy Independence Day, America. We'll be back tomorrow.