2011 PCA Main Event: Habib takes Day 1B lead at the wire
During the closing stages of the last level an unofficial truce is not unusual. Drinks are ordered (and often paid for) by complete strangers who earlier in the day were trying their best to ruin yours. Now you're laughing with them, slapping their backs and asking them how many chips they finished with.
But the lesson is to be cautious. It's all very well passing round family photos, talking about what you're going to do after this is all over, but as anyone who's ever seen a John Wayne film knows, that's a guaranteed way to get wiped out in Act III. If you're lucky you'll get an entertaining close-up, but we'll be certain to have forgotten you by the time the credits roll.
If some might be lulled into a false sense of security, it won't be Walid Bou Habib, who bagged up 239,000 tonight as Day 1B chip leader, snatching the advantage at the bell.
Chip leader Walid Bou Habib
And it won't be the half dozen other players who finished within a few chips of Habib, including Tim Finne (225,100), Carol Ventura (225,000), Ilan Rouah (224,900), Tommy Vedes (220,200), Chris Moneymaker (217,600) and Adam Gabor, whose 207,900 was primarily funded by a last-hand-of-the-day-Broadway-straight against a now crippled Bertrand Grospellier.
Carol Ventura - 225,000
Tommy Vedes - 220,200
The field peaked at 913 players today, all but 383 of whom were sent rail-ward during the course of ten fraught levels. Results today make for a contentious lead tomorrow, when the combined field of 655 are united under one roof.
Typical for any event, there were good days for some, not so good for others. Among those with prospects include Liv Boeree, Viktor Blom - playing his first PokerStars event since being unmasked as "Isildur1" - JP Kelly, John Duthie, Marcel Luske, and Luca Pagano. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier did have prospects, until they were almost all taken away from him by Gabor. ElkY returns tomorrow to a stack of just 8,600.
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier after being reduced to just 8,600
A hat tip also to two sporting greats who will return for Day 2. Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser pitched ten strong innings to finish on 80,800, while tennis pro Gustavo Kuerten held his serve to bag up 43,800.
Tennis champ Gustavo Kuerten
Former pitcher Orel Hershiser
While they are among those bagging up chips tonight amid giddy celebrations, the defeated hundreds face the unwelcome reality of shattered Main Event hopes. To them the tournament was not unlike the beach bar at Atlantis. It posed such promise at the start of the day, only to call last orders before you even get started. Their ginormous Nobu bill won't be coming out of any winnings either.
The likes of Humberto Brenes, Ivan Demidov, Max Lykov, Joe Cada, Vicky Coren and Barry Greenstein all know how this feels and are dealing with life on the rail, at least until the next batch of side events start tomorrow.
The same applies to Greg Raymer, David Williams, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, Jason Mercier and World Champion Jonathan Duhamel, these last two busting from the same table within five minutes of each other. Joe Hachem also departed within a few hands of the finish.
Also gone today were Sorel Mizzi, Matt Affleck, Carter Phillips, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak and Kevin MacPhee; all wasted, were it not for the fact that they'll probably make for a good High Roller event later this week.
Read of their demise, and about the day in general, including the level one drama of Liv Boeree and ElkY's table draw, at the links below.
You'll find a selected list of players' stacks available now on the chip count page. Check back a little later for the official overnight counts for the entire Day 1B field and you can also find details of the payouts on the prize winners page. Fill your boots with videos and moving images at PokerStars.tv, and as always you can get all this in German, Dutch, Italian and in Portuguese. Check it out. At the very least you can check to see if they ever link back to us.
That's the best we can offer you until 12 noon tomorrow when play restarts in the Main Event. Until then we're going to take advantage of one of those overly confident guys and get him to buy us beer.
Photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography