WSOP Main Event Day 1B: Langmann leads the Pros; Walls heads the players
After five weeks and 56 preliminary tournaments, the Main Event comes at the end of a long, long jamboree. There's a massive amount of expectation centred on the $10,000 Championship Event: everyone is wound up for fanfares and fireworks right from the off.
The problem is that the Main Event itself is a monster these days, lasting 13 sleeps until we even settle on a final table. It's a slow burner where the early stages still have the feeling of preliminary events. Even if you bust on the very first hand, the chances are your vanquisher won't make the money either.
So it is that the sideshows go on and often provide more of a diversion than the poker itself. Today was day 1B and another 1,489 players showed up at the Amazon and Pavilion Rooms to get their wildest dreams under way. However, half the press room headed off to the Palms mid-way through the day to see Vanessa Selbst and David Williams unveiled as Team PokerStars Pros. When they returned nothing much had changed.
Of course a bunch of players got a bunch of chips, setting themselves up nicely for day two. And a bunch of others bust from the tournament on the first day, vowing to come back next year when it will all be different.
In the former category we can list the Team PokerStars Pros Florian Langmann, who bagged up something like 97,500, Gavin Griffin (97,200), Johnny Lodden (71,000 approx) Mattias De Meulder (65,500) and John Duthie (62,500).
Hats off too to the PokerStars qualifiers and players Juan Sebastian Rico (115,000), Michael Kaufman (94,000) and Gabe Walls in particular, who bagged up about 135,000 tonight and will be near the overnight lead.
Unfortunately, the number of fallen includes Arnaud Mattern (who clearly took an instruction too literally to "break a leg"), as well as Darus Suharto, ElkY, Julien Brecard and Ivan Demidov.
(Other Team PokerStars survivors include: Jorge Arias (35,500), Vadim Markushevski (23,000), Marcello Del Gross (35,000), Orel Hershiser (19,300), Henrique Pinho (63,000), Nuno Coelho (25,000), Jan Heitmann (81,000) and George Lind (35,300). All counts are very approximate and cannot be confirmed until tomorrow.)
Demidov began the day on the ESPN feature table, the same arena that vaulted him to worldwide prominence in 2008 when he finished runner-up in the big one. His departure midway through the afternoon was characteristically polite and understated - much like the manner in which poker also lost one of Demidov's friends and former adversaries earlier in the day.
In case you missed it, Peter Eastgate, the Team PokerStars Pro and Main Event Champion from 2008 (ie, the only man to outlast Demidov that year) announced today that he will be taking an extended break from poker. You can read Eastgate's full statement here, but we want to add our own best wishes. It's been fun covering the Dane on PokerStars Blog.
Tomorrow is day 1C, where Eastgate's successor Joe Cada will say: "Shuffle up and deal" and then begin his defence of poker's biggest prize. We'll be back for all the action from noon.
If you want to get in touch, to get details on friends and family here in the PokerStars colours, drop us a line at email@example.com with a few details and we'll endeavour to pick them out of tomorrow's crowd, likely to be as big as today's.
Video blogs are at PokerStars.tv. All photography from Las Vegas on PokerStars Blog is (c) Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography.