WSOP 2011: Headed to Day 3 with money in sight

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngIn almost any other poker tournament, if you haven't won some money by three days after you started playing, you've either busted out or doing it completely wrong. At the World Series of Poker, surviving for a week only means you have more work to do.

After four Day 1 and two Day 2 flights, the World Series of Poker has finally reached the point at which everyone can take a breath and a break. Wednesday is a day off for everybody here. Nearly seven thousand people sat down for this event. There has never been a point they were all playing at the same time. Thursday at noon, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 people will come back for what might be the worst day in all of poker. Around half of them will walk away with nothing. The other half will likely have to come back on Friday and fight even longer for their chance to notch a min-cash. Poker is a tough business.

Over the past eight years, the World Series of Poker championship has become almost synonymous with PokerStars players. Beginning with Chris Moneymaker and standing at Jonathan Duhamel, PokerStars has a long tradition of raising the flag of the big red spade above the WSOP. Though the poker world has changed a great deal in the last few months, PokerStars still has a lot of dogs in the fight.

German Team PokerStars Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg is the bullmastiff of the PokerStars clan as we head toward Day 3. The EPT Barcelona winner is headed into Day 3 with nearly 290,000 in chips. He leads an impressive cabal of Team Pros in the fight for a sixth 2011 WSOP bracelet. Some of the top-ranking Team PokerStars Pros following the German into Day 3 are Humberto Brenes, Tom McEvoy, Fatima Moreira De Melo, Daniel Negreanu, Joe Cada, JP Kelly, Christophe de Meulder. Dennis Phillips, Jason Mercier, Toni Judet, Victor Ramdin, and Tony Hachem. Not a bad crew this far into the event.

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If for some reason one of those top pros don't go deep, there are dozens of other online PokerStars grinders prepared to pick up the flag and carry it the rest of the way. This year, PokerStars offered its players the Main Event Passport, a ticket that could get them into any big main event in the civilized world. Many of those Passport winners chose to punch their ticket here at the Main Event. At least five of them have already made it through to Day 3, including the UK's Philipp Gruissem who brings back 245,200.

Today was only the second day's play for the players looking to join Thursday's party, but we had been hunched over our keyboards for five days around the clock already. No hard feelings, of course. Instead, it was once more with feeling; the last time the play would be split.

For some, today started in the hardest way possible. Short stacked, the likes of Barry Greenstein, Liv Boeree and Richard Toth faced a half hour in hell as they sought to reignite their Main Event challenge. But for John Duthie, who was the lowest stacked of the Team PokerStar Pro stable with just 5,000 at the start of play, it was time to run ridiculously well as he jumped up to 37,000 within the first five hands.

Meanwhile, Team PokerStars Pro Victor Ramdin, a well-traveled player with prize money gleaned from far and wide, started with a decent stack and his early progress suggested he could be a real threat when the action restarts on Day 3.

There were then some mid-afternoon fluctuations in Greenstein's fortunes, but Brad Willis' intentions to investigate further were cut short by a visit from the devil.

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No such problems for Simon Young, who stalked Joe Hachem in the break to find out what it's like to be a famous world champion in the packed corridors of the Rio. Needless to say, Hachem got stopped for photographs a lot, but still queued at the restroom like everyone else.

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Three of the players chasing the dream were doing so from very different backgrounds: we looked at how Jamie Gold, Salvatore Bonavena and Fernando Brito got to be here; a former world champ, EPT champ and EPT Player of the Year.

Finally, we recognised that none of this would be possible without the hard work of WSOP tournament boss Jack Effel, a man with a non-stop daily schedule.

It was enough to keep our head spinning like an empty bottle of chianti long past dinner break and into our only day off during the WSOP. If you need us, you'll find us in bed.

Until Thursday at noon, adieu.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker