The winner of the 2013 World Series of Poker main event will win a life-changing $8.3 million, but for the 6,352 players in the field, the journey has just begun. Day 1C set records as the largest single starting day in main event history and the buzz around the Rio was palpable. Each of the Amazon, Brasilia and Pavilion Rooms were packed near capacity as 3,467 players battled to begin their main event on the right foot.
Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth found prosperity on Day 1C, each maneuvering through their tables efficiently. Mizrachi's day concluded with an up-and-down level where his stack varied from 150,000 to 200,000. His active approach frustrated his table at times and that was exactly what he hoped for.
"You're playing with a lot of players who aren't experienced in the main event and they don't want to bust Day 1," said Mizrachi, who finished the day with 176,100 in chips. "You can use your image against them, and while I had a few tough players at my table, there were some soft spots and it all worked out well for me."
Ivey took a similar active approach and dominated his amateur-filled table during the final level to finish with 119,650 in chips. At his first table, Ivey chipped up by winning small pots postflop, but once he moved, he adjusted his strategy to account for the weakness found at his table and added 20 percent more to his stack late in the day.
As is his tradition, Hellmuth arrived late, and found his stride late, before surging to a 92,850 stack. Immediately after he eliminated Shaun Deeb during Level 4, Hellmuth found another gear.
"I felt really good about the way I played," said Hellmuth. "I started off playing super tight, and then I started getting some momentum and started to three-bet a little lighter and got away with most of those."
Hellmuth has always been great at picking on the less-experienced player and found some good spots at his table at the perfect time.
"I won four of the last five hands. People are tired and they want to make Day 2," said Hellmuth on his late-day strategy. "It's a big deal to make Day 2 to most people. It's a good time to get active."
If Hellmuth were to cash in the main event, it would be the 100th of his WSOP career. He had three cashes during the preliminary events this Series.
The biggest rail of the day belonged to Daniel Negreanu, who found himself in a constant fight to get back to a starting stack all day. Negreanu faltered early and was down to a couple thousand before rebounding to finish with 15,600. Antonio Esfandiari, Johnny Chan and Eric Baldwin all ended the night below 20,000. Other Day 1C survivors include a number of former world champions (Joseph Hachem, Carlos Mortensen, Jamie Gold, Tom McEvoy and Jerry Yang), former October/November Niners (Rob Salaburu, Ben Lamb, Joseph Cheong, Phil Collins, Jason Senti, Bob Bounahara, John Racener) and bracelet winners from 2013 (Josh Pollack, Matthew Waxman, John Beauprez). Event 59 champion Loni Harwood, Huckleberry Seed, Jonathan Duhamel, David Baker, Sammy Farha, Jeff Madsen, Vanessa Rousso, Tom Schneider and Phil Laak were among the day's eliminations.
On the final hand of the night, Mark Kroon became the chip leader after his river-made flush was enough to deny Ylon Schwartz another main event cash. Kroon is perhaps the original poker star who for many years was better known within the industry simply as "P0ker H0." He has taught at the WSOP Academy, has a wealth of live experience (including a main event cash) and owns a business as well. Kroon never really got the love from the boom I believe he could've and should've, but with a deep run here in the main event, he might finally have that chance.
Here's a look at the unofficial chip leaders after Day 1C:
1. Mark Kroon (246,300)
2. Imari Love (214,300)
3. Michael Mizrachi (176,100)
4. Frederik Brink Jensen (169,975)
5. Kevin Doszak (155,075)
6. Josh Pollock (154,025)
7. Ercan Olgun (147,550)
8. Joseph Cheong (143,375)
9. Ryan Hughes (139,900)
10. Darryl Ronconi (136,125)
Day 2 begins at noon PT Tuesday with the survivors from Day 1A and Day 1B in action. The fields will not be combined, rather each day will act as its own separate event. On Day 3, the entire field will come together for the first time.
Small blinds: During the last hour of play, Joseph Hachem's table ordered multiple rounds of shots. Afterward, they all took pictures with the champ. Now that's a main event experience. ... Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo advanced to Day 2 for the second year in a row. ... Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen have similar stacks around 18,000 and there's a pretty good reason why. Neither player actually came to their tables all day and both were blinded out the entire time. ... Do we call Paul Pierce a specialist now? The NBA star didn't play the main event, just the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event. ... Another athlete who many believed would be in Vegas this year is Michael Phelps. After playing the WSOP's opening weekend, Phelps didn't return to the Rio. ... Daniel Alaei won his bracelet only seven hours before the start of his Day 1C. He was eliminated early on, but before he went out, he said he was completely exhausted. ... The tables that were formerly in the Blue section have been removed while I wrote this blog. Last year there were three tables in this section that were "side features" during our coverage. ... The payout structure of the main event can be found here. ... When action resumes Tuesday, the blinds will be 250/500 with a 50 ante.