If Day 1A felt empty with only 741 players, Day 1C of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event felt full, almost like the good ol’ days. The single biggest starting day in the history of the WSOP main event saw 3,963 players plunk down $10,000, and the energy from that many players packed into the Rio Convention Center was the polar opposite of the Day 1A wake-like atmosphere.
All told, there are 6,420 players in the 2015 WSOP main event. Poker isn’t dead after all.
Sure, the field is still down from 2014, but it’s just 3.9 percent down, and the huge field on Tuesday is an indication that the calendar -- with July 4 falling on a Saturday -- might have worked against WSOP organizers.
Included in the Tuesday crowd were some of the biggest names in the game. Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Michael McDonald and reigning world champ Martin Jacobson were just some of the familiar faces scattered around the Amazon, Brasilia and Pavilion rooms. Jacobson was the only member of that group who failed to make it through the day.
Along with the crowds and the big names came a handful of celebrities, highlighted by "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul. The man famous for playing Jesse Pinkman didn’t make it through the second level of the day. Former New England Patriot and Oakland Raider Richard Seymour, "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" writer J.R. Havlan, comedians Brad Garrett and Ray Romano, and former Liverpool FC star John Arne Riise also found their way into the field on Sunday.
The most watched table of the day, however, was 256. It’s the table Paul started at and after he busted, his seat was filled by Ivey. Just after registration closed, Hellmuth also took a seat at this table. With 24 WSOP bracelets between them, the combination of Ivey and Hellmuth at one table was a huge draw for railbirds and media alike. They were soon joined by Keith Lehr and Melanie Weisner, but only played 1.5 levels together before the table broke. Hellmuth admits he was caught off guard when he walked up to the table.
“Yeah, I was kinda shocked. It seems obvious to me that say they had 700 starting tables, the chances me Phil Ivey and Keith Lehr being at the same table and then on top of it all we had Melanie Weisner come over,” said Hellmuth. “But that’s poker and actually that table I ran all my chips up. Once I came to a table where I didn’t know a single person, I lost some chips back.”
The 14-time bracelet winner bagged up 79,725 in chips, and that had a lot to do with the deck making life a little bit easier for him.
“I had some cards," Hellmuth said. "Some of these tournaments I can run my chips up without having cards and then some I need some cards. I ran pretty good. I had kings full against a guy that had a straight, I flopped a set of tens, I made quad tens, I flopped a set of sixes, I even had queens once. It was nice to run good and I think it’s important to recognize, 'Hey, I made some hands today.' "
Hellmuth wasn’t the only former main event champion to bag up a better than average stack on Tuesday. Two years removed from his win, Ryan Riess bagged up 109,500, and 2006 winner Jamie Gold finished with 90,000.
Anthony Zinno, who sits second in WSOP Player of the Year standings, had a roller coaster of a day and ended with just 1,000 more than the 30,000 starting stack.
“I had a great start, early on I was running well, getting max value, had the table control,” said Zinno. “On the second break I had 84,000 and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to bag 100,000 today.’ I chipped down a bit by missing a few flops with ace-king.”
Like Hellmuth, Zinno’s fortunes turned after he changed tables, but while Hellmuth’s dip was tiny, Zinno took a big hit thanks to a confrontation no player could avoid.
“I got moved to Brasilia room and was folding a lot. I looked down at kings and ran them into Mike Watson’s aces,” Zinno said. “He had the perfect stack size to double him up. I tried my best to keep the variance low, but he had about 32,000, so it was one of those spots where I had to double him. So that sucked a little bit.”
Top five chip counts
1.John Gorsuch (198,100 in chips)
2.Zarik Megerdichian (180,400)
3.Je Wook Oh (157,000)
4.Owen Crowe (155,000)
5.James Juvancic (150,825)
Payouts a hit
If you’ve been paying attention at all this WSOP, you’ve noticed players complaining about a lot of things a lot of the time. Tuesday night was different. At about 10:35 p.m. PT, WSOP tournament director Jack Effel made the announcement breaking down the main event payouts. They were met with near-universal praise.
As promised after the release of the schedule, the top 1,000 players will all make some money with a min-cash worth $15,000. All members of the November Nine will make at least $1 million.
One player almost managed to re-enter the main event. According to Bryan Devonshire, a player he was seated with early in Day 1C asked him how many times he’d bought in this year. Devonshire explained that the event was a freezeout -- meaning just one entry per player -- which caught him off guard. Danielle Anderson, of Bet Raise Fold fame, was in the main event on Tuesday but she actually looked like she was going to prom in the mid 1990s. Anderson lost a prop bet to good friend Lauren Billings, and as a result had to wear whatever Billings chose for Day 1C. Billings chose formal wear, complete with sash and 1990s makeup. Nobody took pity on Anderson, though -- she bagged up 25,200.
— Lauren Billings (@LovesToShove) July 7, 2015