WSOP Main Event: The start of the end of the beginning

wsop2009_thn.gifPhase one of operation World Series 2009 is almost complete. By close of play tonight, after five two-hour levels in the Amazon Room, we will finally have made it through our four-tiered day one. This is the final hurdle of the first stretch. And then it will get really exciting.

That, though, is something we will be anticipating at around midnight. Right now, it is approaching mid-day, and the corridors around the tournament area are a throng of anxious players preparing for the start of their day in the sun. And what a dazzling array of talent we have lined up today, including a couple of guys named Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov who, last November, played the final hands of the 2008 World Series between them. In case you have been living in a cave for the past eight months, Eastgate won the last hand of that series, earning him $9m and the title of World Champion. He is back today to begin the defence of his title, with Demidov only one of an expected 2,300 attempting to stop him at the first chance.

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But even those prodigious talents are hardly likely to consider this a foregone conclusion. Also playing today are their Team PokerStars Pro team-mates Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Dario Minieri, Chad Brown, Vanessa Rousso, Noah Boeken and Humberto Brenes ... breathe. Then there's JC Alvarado, Andre Akkari, Alexandre Gomes, Victor Ramdin, Christian Angeles, Angel Guillen, Johannes Steindl, Florian Langmann, Anton Allemann, Benjamin Kang and Veronica Dabul.

And a clutch of celebrities are also kitted out in the PokerStars livery today. They include the actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Marlon Wayans, the NBA stars Jordan Farmer and John Salley and the wrestler Torrie Wilson. We will be keeping close watch on all their progress.

This is also the place, of course, to find all the information about the hugely talented clutch of PokerStars qualifiers attempting to become the new Chris Moneymaker or Greg Raymer and translate a meagre online satellite fee into a monstrous payday. If any of your friends or family are in today's field, make sure to email us at to tell us where they're sitting and send us over to their table to get photographs and the full story. It would be great to feature as many qualifiers as possible on the blog, so get us working.

Keep one window open on PokerStars Blog throughout the day, even if the rest of your screen must be filled with spreadsheets and databases for a Monday at the office. Let us offer a small slice of Vegas life.

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