Saturday, August 8, 2009

WSOP: Event #4 Sets Attendance Record on Day 1b

The following article appeared on at and was written during my time at the 2009 World Series of Poker.

WSOP: Event #4 Sets Attendance Record on Day 1b

Entering Day 1b, all attention was focused on how fast the field would thin after the prior day’s massacre. Day 1a of Event #4 ($1,000 No Limit Hold’em) at the 2009 World Series of Poker saw a massive field of 2,992 decimated at an astounding pace, 4.36 players per minute.

3,020 players put up the $1,000 buy-in on Day 1b, bringing the total of players in Event #4 to 6,012, the largest field for any event outside of the Main Event. This shattered the previous record set in Event #2 ($1,500 No Limit Hold’em) of the 2008 Series.

Along with the usual masses of amateurs, a large number of pros turned out for their shot at the $5,410,800 prize pool, with first place receiving $771,106. The pros in attendance included Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Andy Black, Tiffany Michelle, T.J. Cloutier and Erick Lindgren.

Action seemed to start a bit slower than Saturday, but that didn’t stop some notable names from busting. Lindgren was ousted when his Q-6 failed to improve against his opponent’s K-Q. Likewise Jonathan Little, Eric Lynch, Michael Mizrachi, David Chiu, Ivey, Michelle, Flack and Black were sent to the rail early. As play continued, interesting and amusing developments began to occur.

One of the more entertaining moments came a few hours into play when Negreanu and some of his table mates were betting on pace of the tournament clock. The clock had two columns listing each spot to be paid and the amount they would receive; however, the left column was cycling through the spots at a slower pace than the right, but with a head start. Negreanu bet that the right column would reach the end of the payouts. Soon a crowd of spectators and floormen gathered as Negreanu chanted, “Go, horsey, go!” Unfortunately for him, the left column reached the mark fifteen spots ahead of the right, thus ending the excitement and Negreanu’s fun.

During the middle stages, action picked up and the number of players dropping began to approach Day 1a levels. Some recognizable names could be seen wandering the halls of the Rio after their eliminations. John Juanda had gotten it all-in with A J but was outdrawn by A 5 when a five hit the flop. Likewise, Gavin Smith’s pocket tens lost a race against A-Q to send him to the rail. Negreanu was eliminated shortly thereafter along with John Phan, Peter Feldman, and David Pham.

Lee Markholt made a stand with Q T and was called by two players holding K K and A [10h], needless to say he was dominated and sent packing when the board came 5 6 4 K A. As the big names in poker continued to fall, the amateurs seemed to be thriving. At the dinner break, 1,017 players remained which meant up to that point the tournament was losing 5.5 players per minute.

One pro who has managed to find success throughout the day was J.C. Tran, who quietly amassed a large stack. In one hand, Tran called an opponent’s all-in bet with A Q only to run into Q Q; luckily, the board ran out K 8 6 K T giving him the nut flush and a 55,000 chip stack.

“I’ve been hitting hands and had a good table draw,” said Tran regarding his success, “They’ve been letting me get away with stuff.”

As the night wore on, the eliminations continued and by the end of the night 2,636 player’s dreams had come to an end. This meant that 4.39 players were eliminated per minute, slightly more than the Day 1a average. Day 1b was nothing short of historic. The event shattered the record for largest field outside of the Main Event and coincided with two final tables as well as the Tournament of Champions Invitational.

Along with Day 1a’s remaining 376 players, the surviving 384 Day 1b players will return at 2PM on Monday to battle it out some more.

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