WSOP Diary Day 2: Barry Greenstein mixes it up in the $50K
Poker players look forward to the World Series of Poker with as much anticipation as kids waiting excitedly but impatiently for Christmas. While youngsters may get a raw deal, with the fun being over in just a day, the players have two months in which to gorge themselves stupid in Las Vegas. The final course may be a biggie, the $10,000 Main Event starting July 5, but it's the starter that has now taken on more significance for the big names at least.
Last year we had the $40,000 No Limit Hold'em event early in the schedule, this year it was something even grander to kick off the WSOP - the mixed game $50,000 Poker Player's Championship (without wishing to demean Event #1 in any way, the Casino Employees $500 No Limit). This event, officially Event #2, is for those with bulging bankrolls, big hearts, and in some notable cases, supersize egos. So it was that the world's finest came together for the 5pm start, a star-studded bunch sitting with a tempting 150,000 chips, hoping to last the five days of mixed game poker, eight game variants in all.
Such a gathering, in the orange section of an otherwise empty Amazon room at the Rio, was the first opportunity of the year for the railers - fans, fellow players and the plain curious tourists - to get up close to watch their favorites in action. They were two deep as the rail snaked around the section, penning in the stars of the show much like a zoo enclosure keeps its prized exhibits.
What the gawpers were to witness first, however, was not the showboating, not the Mike Matusow play-acting, but the good side of the professional game. The caring side. The winner here gets not only $1,559,046 in prize money, but the David 'Chip' Reece Memorial Trophy, named after the late winner of this event's first airing back in 2006.
His passing still clearly affects those who knew him so well in the big games. Doyle Brunson made a moving speech at the start: "Chip was the best player I ever played with. But more than that he was a class act. Everyone respected and admired him," he said. Brunson then introduced a video about Reece, which included more tributes from players, including Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, who said: "For me it is poetic that he (Reece) was the first $50,000 event winner - it established the event for ever." More tributes, too, from the likes of Jennifer Harman, who was nearly in tears as she watched the video played back.
With that, Brunson announced shuffle up and deal, and the WSOP was under way. Well, at least it was for most. There was controversy early on when players arriving a little late were told they had to wait until the end of the level until they could join the action. Among those left wandering the floor for anything up to an hour were Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein, Tony G, Josh Arieh and Robert Williamson III. Some were a little more unhappy than others at the new ruling - made apparently so tables were full and balanced at the start of play - but Tony G summed up the feeling of most: "Rules are rules," he said. Greenstein added with a wry smile: "I won't go broke during the first level of the 50k event. They aren't allowing late entrants to play until level 2."
The delay in joining the action was not going to cause Greenstein any problems, however. Despite being sat with the likes of Tony G, Robert Williamson III and Todd Brunson, he was to bag up 240,100 chips at the end of the night, tenth in chips of the 109 survivors. That was a slow rate of attrition from the 116 starters, but this is a five-day marathon. Top of the pile was Sweden's Erik Sagstrom with 329,100.
With a buy in like this, each table would be stacked with names. Team PokerStars had 11 in the field, each of whom made it through the day safely. Greg Raymer shared the felt with fellow Team PokerStars Pros Dario Minieri - resplendent in Gucci - and Noah Boeken, an interesting mix of styles (playing styles and clothing styles) if ever there was one.
Negreanu was the only Team PokerStars Pro at his table, but he did have online phenom Tom 'Durrr' Dwan for company, who's limit hold'em style he was later to describe as more wild than Gus Hansen. Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen had a super-tough table, drawing Jeff Lisandro, Doyle Brunson, Michael Binger and Nick Shulman among others.
Jason Mercier was joined by Team PokerStars Online's George Lind, the PokerStars 2010 SCOOP Player of the Series, as well as Sorel Mizzi and Hoyt Corkins. Alex Kravchenko played with Gus Hansen, while Chad Brown sat next to Carlos Mortensen. New Canadian Team PokerStars Pro Pat Pezzin had the pleasure of Phil Ivey's company.
Of the day's fallers we lost Dan Shak first after a crippling Pot Limit Omaha hand. With a flop of 9♣8♠[10s] Shak had a set, but Kelly had the nut straight with a flush re-draw. The flush fell on the river which, along with the turn, had failed to pair the board for Shak. He was left with just 1,100 chips after that, and was out soon after. "Man, that did not go too well," he reflected.
While the second day of this event begins at 3pm, the first day of the first mega no limit hold'em tournament of the WSOP begins at noon. This will attract a huge field, and we expect more Team PokerStars Pros to be among them. Vanessa Rousso and Lex Veldhuis are confirmed. This event, with a $1,000 entry fee, will attract the pros seeking value, but more importantly, perhaps, will draw in the recreational players desperate to get in on the WSOP action for relatively little.
It will mean the Rio will be packed, with the new giant Pavilion area stuffed full of players. While all that commotion goes on - and it will be loud - the 105 survivors of the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship will be going about their business quietly in the Amazon room.
Team Pro finishers from day 1:
Barry Greenstein, 240,100
Dario Minieri, 222,600
Bill Chen, 199,600
George Lind, 187,600
Chad Brown, 165,000
Daniel Negreanu, 148,100
Noah Boeken, 144,400
Jason Mercier, 141,500
Greg Raymer, 109,200
Alex Kravchenko, 104,800
Pat Pezzin, 89,100
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Tweets of the Day
@RealKidPoker: Durr is the most aggro limit player I've ever seen. He makes Gus look like a weak-tight nit. I've seen some very interesting hands so far.
@FossilMan: Hardly played a hand in level 5, and lost those few. One win in NLH, one in PLO. 109 for day 2. Sleep!
@JasonMercier: Finished day 1 w 141500 meh. Rough day happy it's finally over!! Day 2 restart at 3 pm 2moro
@GeorgeLindIII: Nice rush to end the day 187600
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Thought of the day
Casino employees players, $10 dinner voucher
$50,000 championship players, $100 dinner voucher