Sternberg, Tehan, Hachem chip up early

The second of five levels has been completed and some familiar faces have emerged to the top of the chip counts. I saw Joe Tehan playing cash games on Saturday and he was excited to get started. He was in a mixed cash game in which he could make the same amount as a WSOP min-cash in just a few hours, but when it comes to the WSOP, the NAPT Los Angeles champion said he just hoped to get off to a good start on Day 1D. So far, so good.

Tehan chipped up in a bit of a cooler hand at the demise of his opponent. With Ac-8c, Tehan flopped top-top (top pair with top kicker) on a 8h-6h-5c board. The turn and river brought the 2c and Jc, and though his opponent must have believed his rivered set was good (J-J), Tehan scooped the big pot.

The World Poker Tour champions of 2011 have been holding their own here at the WSOP mian event. Andy Frankenberger, Scott Seiver and Erik Seidel have already advanced to Day 2, and Sunday's group of those standouts includes Bay 101 champion Alan Sternberg. A few key pots built Sternberg's stack to nearly 90,000 as he hopes to top his 2010 main event finish of 621st.

One man who knows exactly what it takes to make it through this field is Joseph Hachem, and a good start is something the Australian poker icon has been achieving time and time again this summer. That said, Hachem hasn't been able to overcome the challenges during the later stages, but he still feels his game is on point. Hachem began the day chipping up to nearly double the starting stack and has a smooth command of his table thus far. As has become his routine, Hachem arrived at the 2011 WSOP when more than half the events had already been completed. Over the past few weeks, Hachem played 11 events and made two deep runs -- 12th in the $2,500 pot-limit Omaha/hold 'em event and 50th in the $3,000 pot-limit Omaha event. Besides his main event victory, Hachem also made a deep run in 2009, finishing in 103rd place.

A few other notables spread around the room include Dwyte Pilgrim (who shared his desire to defeat Daniel Negreanu in the ESPN fantasy poker league), David Bach, Amit Makhija, Freddy Deeb, Ylon Schwartz, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Mark Seif and Brandon Adams. 2010 WSOP Player of the Year Frank Kassela, Chino Rheem, Justin Young, Prahlad Friedman and William Reynolds were all recently eliminated.

Small blinds: Donny Mizrachi registered for the main event during the last level, making a total of four Mizrachis once again in the main event. Robert and Michael have already been eliminated. Eric is playing today. ... The announcement of the prize money and field size should be out shortly. ... I still think cheering after winning a pot on Day 1 is a little over the top. There's a long way to go. ... Action is now 150/300 with no ante. ... Players go to dinner after this level. ... An interesting concept called Bubble Protection was explained to me during the last level. It's basically insurance for online poker players overseas, where the bubble is basically expanded. For example, in a tournament with 1,000 players, the site will pay 10 percent. If you finish 150th, you'll still be covered by the bubble protection and get your buy-in and rake back. ... The biggest metrics I'm interested in seeing this year from the main event is whether there was a growth of female participation and the change year-over-year in foreign versus domestic players. All that data should be out in the coming days.