LAS VEGAS -- Four hours in and the players are on their second 20-minute break of the day. When they return, they'll play two more hours, then head to the dinner break. This year, the Day 1 action will include five levels (10 hours of play) and we can expect that about 30 percent of the starting field will not return for Day 2 on Tuesday.
Pius Heinz was moved to the feature table area to start the second level and although he may have been more comfortable than the rest of his table under the lights and cameras, he wasn't able to pick up where he left off last year. Heinz's aggressive play led him to the final table a year ago, but in one hand, that same aggression has led to his current short stack. Heinz fired the flop and turn and was called on both streets. On the river, he bet again and was met with a big raise and quickly folded. He started the level with nearly 28,000 in chips and ended it with only 13,000. While that may be extremely under average at this point, remember that the blinds are only 150/300.
Faraz Jaka, Eric Baldwin and Mike Sexton were among the biggest gainers during the level and while they may highlight the top of the chip counts here at the Rio, the majority of the leaders are unknowns to us at this point. Some stacks are growing, but nobody is over the 100,000 mark after two levels.
Small blinds: Matt Glantz, Mark Newhouse and Luca Pagao were eliminated during the second level. ... Players are on the money bubble in the National Championship with Huy Nguyen currently leading the final 19. ... 3Bet clothing is running an interesting promotion for all main event participants who wear its patch. If you're the last one standing with the patch on, you win 1 percent of the company. As a result, those patches are everywhere. ... Notable table matchups include Jay Rosenkrantz and 2011 Seniors champion Jim Hess; Billy Gazes and "The Nuts" contributor Court Harrington; Mike Matusow and Steve Gross; and Frank Kassela and Karina Jett. ... There is a much larger rail around actor Ray Romano than actor Kevin Pollak. ... Another November Niner in the crowd is Filippo Candio. ... Players do whatever it takes to stand out. There's a player in a jester hat with cards all over it, a player wearing one of those beach-appropriate rainbow umbrella hats and then, there's Tatjana Pasalic who is dressed up as a leopard after losing a bet. ... Average number of players in hoodies per table is probably around two, which seems lower than last year. That said, it's Day 1. ... According to Bluff, Mike Matusow paid his opponent $100 to see his cards after a hand was completed. ... Scotty Nguyen showed up and spent about a half hour taking pictures and signing autographs in the middle of the Amazon Room. ... Actor Jason Alexander will play the main event on Day 1C. ... Greg Mueller is, as expected, getting a massage. It's been two hours and counting ...