WCOOP Event #33: $5,200 NLHE Main Event Day 1 down with august35 up, WCOOP title and $1.7 million still up for grabs

The big one. The 2008 World Championship of Online Poker main event. Thirty-two events of all shapes, sizes, and buy-ins led to this - the main event extravaganza. Players logged in from around the world so as not to miss the online championship that started it all and continues to set the bar for the online poker world.

Scheduled as a two-day event, the $5,200 NLHE Main Event was advertised with a $10 million guarantee, and the registration of 2,185 players surpassed that to create a stellar $10.925 million prize pool, of which 324 finalists would take a piece. And the first place prize set aside for the winner? $1,775,312.50! The WCOOP Main Event today became the largest online poker tournament ever, eclipsing the 2007 event by more than $3 million. In sum, more than $30 million was up for grabs in the 2008 WCOOP. History-making milestones, indeed!

Team PokerStars Pros were in the field en masse, including Andre Akkari, who had only the night before finished second in the $10,300 HORSE event, playing alongside players who had qualified for seats through low buy-in satellites, and everyone had a chance at fame and fortune in this event. All competitors began with 25,000 in chips, and several notables jumped out to early leads. Event #24 winner Tom "luvgamble" Schneider, won a sizable hand, and acclaimed author Tony Holden took down two big pots in a row. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, early exits were handed out to Noah Boeken and Raymond Rahme. By the end of the first hour, Schneider sat stop the leaderboard with Holden in tenth, followed by Akkari in 23rd place and Hevad Khan holding down the 40th spot.

Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was in this tournament looking for the win, but at the very least his seventh cash of the 2008 WCOOP. The Team PokerStars Pro had a successful series thus far but missed the win in Event #19 by only one place. He started strong in this event, taking two big pots and eliminating an opponent during the fourth level. And as the day progressed, despite roller coaster-like levels, he consistently chipped back up to stay in contention.

Three and four hours into the tournament, other big names began to depart, such as Chris Moneymaker, Isabelle Mercier, Dario Minieri, Greg Raymer, Vicky Coren, and WSOPE reigning champion Annette Obrestad. Following in the next few levels were Gavin Griffin, Alexandre Gomes, John Duthie, Tom McEvoy, Hevad Khan, Joe Hachem, Tuan Lam, Alex Kravchenko, Luca Pagano, Bill Chen, Lee Nelson, and Barry Greenstein.

Going into hour six of the action, only 517 players remained, and still maintaining some chip stacks were four members of Team PokerStars - Grospellier, Vanessa Rousso, Katja Thater, and Humberto Brenes. Event #24 winner Schneider bowed out when his A-K came up against the A-K of his opponent who made a flush with his Big Slick, and Thater soon left the Main Event as well when her pocket eights looked up at pocket aces and didn't improve.

Just past 1:15am ET, the bubble finally burst, courtesy of online pro Tmay420 whose pocket nines lost the race with A-K when the board fell J-3-Q-T-8. From two straights came one winner; Michnak successfully sent Tmay420 out in 325th place. Players left the tournament in relative droves, with about 28 of them leaving in the first five minutes of payout guarantees. Humberto Brenes followed the trend a bit later, falling in 234th place.

But among those still playing was Grospellier. ElkY put the pressure on his opponents and began to climb the leaderboard, eventually becoming one of the few players to reach the one million chip mark. And famous baseball player turned poker enthusiast Orel Hershiser was playing to win as well, doubling up when necessary to stay in the game. Rousso also chipped up by eliminating a player with pocket aces versus the sevens of her opponent. But in one fail swoop, Rousso was suddenly ousted when her A-Q went in on a 4c-3d-As-Tc flop against the pocket fours of x-13. The river could only bring an 8h, and Rousso took leave of the tournament in 160th place. Humberto Brenes also found his way to the rail

Hershiser continued to play an aggressive game, winning some races and losing others but doubling up when he needed to do so. The most amazing one of those came when Hershiser got all-in preflop with 8c-7h against the pocket kings of Danny98765. The flop came a miracle Td-6c-7s-4c-8h, and he could only say what the other players were thinking. Hershiser typed, "WOW." But as luck would - or would not - have it, Hershiser was finally benched with his A-8 when AJKHoosier1's 5-4 found two other fives on the flop. Hershiser left the tournament in 89th place for a $16,387.50 payout.

By the end of the night, after 22 levels of play, the field had been reduced to only 60 players. The clock was stopped to end the first day of action, and august35 was so far atop the leaderboard that the other players could hardly see him. With 3,865,986 chips, the nearest competitor, Cobra234, was more than 1.4 million behind the leader.

Fluffdog87 was holding down a solid third spot on that board when play stopped. He and others like AJKHoosier1, Liberace, Markush13, ViP_MoDee in the top ten had been no strangers to that status throughout the last few levels, and others remaining had made a strong showing for hours as well, i.e. cpfactor, Herr_Jude, and ahh_snap. Daut44 also made a showing in 28th place when play ended, and none other than Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier was in the final 60. With ElkY already having achieved his seventh 2008 WCOOP cash and hungry for a bracelet, no one knows what ElkY will be capable of when play resumes.

Speaking of further action, the Main Event is scheduled to restart at 4:30pm ET on Monday, September 22nd. Online poker history will be made, and the competition among the final 60 players will be fierce, as they all shoot for that $1,775,312.50 first prize and the most coveted title in online poker as WCOOP champion.

For all of the action as it happened during Event #33, the $5200 NLHE Main Event, read through the Live Blog.

Full chip counts are below:

august35 3,865,986.00
Cobra234 2,378,526.00
Fluffdog87 2,242,203.00
Forza Parma 2,204,820.00
AJKHoosier1 2,184,184.00
liberace 2,073,469.00
klslcz 1,822,775.00
PieOhMy 1,382,118.00
Markush13 1,381,400.00
ViP_MoDee 1,375,402.00
capinhabr 1,262,891.00
Sumpas 1,160,506.00
Cowb0y$4Life 1,137,334.00
Herr_Jude 1,119,064.00
BillieD 1,068,206.00
cpfactor 1,036,775.00
ShoesRDurrty 1,036,402.00
abreid 1,027,391.00
ShiP ThA $$$ 977,595.00
xmrstyle 963,432.00
lucky_aces08 952,074.00
austinlewis 910,230.00
charder30 901,740.00
BlueDevils09 900,113.00
baloo1962 880,068.00
brendol 867,244.00
m3tph 794,381.00
Daut44 793,280.00
ckingusc 789,130.00
ahh_snap 779,928.00
McMang 762,914.00
Michnak 708,462.00
KingKobeMVP 687,178.00
sprocket94 677,958.00
psuNYY51 641,990.00
cbsplash 637,172.00
LoneHixx 608,020.00
sshyshadow 607,067.00
x-13 564,946.00
Miss Pretty 515,810.00
mcstuntz 511,464.00
astarisborn 493,044.00
ElkY 482,177.00
sandler1860 475,000.00
styroben33 462,970.00
THEROBBOB20 445,937.00
JBlaze20 431,079.00
pokerhahntas 425,516.00
kudos1017 424,611.00
neverwin 417,001.00
DooshDotCom 413,258.00
ADZ124 404,146.00
C13Greentumb 399,128.00
PokerNoob999 371,757.00
cabriovr6 347,988.00
kovi99 344,430.00
diemaus36o 342,715.00
BalkanGhost 296,656.00
BOLLPOKER 235,953.00
PowerRanger 219,986.00

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in WCOOP