The final starting day of the 2014 World Series of Poker main event began with the official awarding of the 2013 WSOP Player of the Year award to Daniel Negreanu. Lance Bradley of Bluff, which sponsors the award, introduced the six-time bracelet winner and presented him with his buy-in for the main event, part of his prize for being the most successful player on the WSOP felt last year. Negreanu smiled and posed in front of the massive banner that will hang at the Rio and wasted no time in instructing the dealers to get going.
Negreanu left the stage and moved to a secondary feature table, where a rail waited for him with cellphones at the ready. Photos, autographs and smiles are all part of Negreanu's routine, and those who are ready to face off against him will have to deal with one intimidating view.
— Andrew Feldman (@AFeldmanESPN) July 7, 2014
Negreanu nearly doubled his starting stack during the first level of action.
Registration for Day 1C has already moved the total field size beyond the 2013 field. The line for registration isn't long at the moment, but players are still filing in and are expected to make up the largest single starting day in WSOP main event history. The efforts of Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth and Negreanu may dominate the focus of today, but as is customary at the WSOP, it's the surprises that show up that steal the headlines. One of those surprises is NBA star Paul Pierce, who strolled into the Amazon Room with David Gregory an hour into play today.
Pierce played in the main event three years ago and advanced to Day 2 before busting out near the end of the day. Before sitting down, he looked at Gregory, gave him a fist bump, and said, "Let's do this." Pierce's road to the $10 million top prize didn't start off well; he lost more than half his stack in the first few minutes after sitting down. Pierce flopped trips, but his opponent turned a straight and earned a number of chips on the hand. Right before the first break, Pierce got back on track with a flopped set turned river full house and doubled up to 38,000 in chips.
Other notables include FC Barcelona's Gerard Piqué, who is making his second consecutive main event appearance, the UFC's Martin Kampmann, Shane Warne, television producer Gavin Polone, and actors James Woods and Justin Henry.
The most missing notable is Doyle Brunson, who will be missing the main event for the first time in quite awhile. The 81-year-old tweeted that it's time to take care of himself, and nobody can argue with that.
Small blinds: Phil Hellmuth is expected to show up in a few hours. Those seated at his table are simply staring at the open seat, not knowing who will fill it. Former champions Jonathan Duhamel and Greg Raymer are occupying the secondary feature table area. There are two very big rails. One near Negreanu, the other near Pierce. Ivey's table isn't easily accessible. Speaking of Ivey, it appears "60 Minutes" is here to film some footage for a future segment. Davidi Kitai is seated with Negreanu to start the day. Also seated together: Andy Frankenberger and Calvin Anderson. For those who expected Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer to show up, it doesn't appear that is going to happen this year.