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By far, it is the pinnacle of the year in online poker. The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event is the largest online tournament of the year by virtue of its $10 million guarantee alone. The money in play and the prestige of the WCOOP title combine to bring some of the game’s absolute best to the tables, and PokerStars is inundated with fans observing the tables, railing their favorite players, and getting a glimpse of the high-stakes action.

When the 2009 WCOOP Main Event got underway on Sunday, September 20, the magnitude of it all was clear. Registration for the $5,000 + $200 buy-in event ended with 2,144 entrants, which put the prize pool at an impressive $10,720,000. Though only the top 306 finishers were set to receive any portion of it, it was the stunning $1,715,200 first place prize that caught everyone’s eye. The winner of the two-day online tournament would win more money than most live tournaments could ever hope to offer, becoming more than a millionaire in less than 48 hours. And the second place finisher? That person will also be a millionaire.

While those numbers sink in, let’s get to the details of the day, as provided to us by David Aydt, Martin Harris, Change100, and Brad Willis in the Main Event Day 1 Live Blog.

First, to concentrate on the final table payouts that will come into play as the tournament nears on Monday, those prizes are:

1st place: $1,715,200.00
2nd place: $1,286,400.00
3rd place: $933,712.00
4th place: $643,200.00
5th place: $482,400.00
6th place: $375,200.00
7th place: $268,000.00
8th place: $182,240.00
9th place: $96,480.00

Next, let’s get to the players. The PokerStars Pro Team was out in force for the event, and WSOP Main Event champions like Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, Peter Eastgate, Tom McEvoy, and Chris Moneymaker competed in the same field as stars known for their work outside of poker, such as tennis legend Boris Becker and television superstar Jason Alexander. But the majority of the massive list of Team members did not make it near the money, giving way to the cards early in the tournament.

Those Team PokerStars players nearing the money, though still not cashing, were Chad Brown (492nd), Angel Guillen (435th), Veronica “Princesa” Dabul (428th), Vanessa Rousso (421st), Gaulter “stockcar99” Salles (396th), Ylon Schwartz (370th), Alex Gomes (351st), Bill Chen (340th), and Leo Fernandez (365th). And exiting just inside the payout window was Katja Thater in 305th place.

Also in the field was the 2008 WCOOP Main Event champion, Carter “ckingusc” King, though he was knocked out by xaroCjes in 2031st place early in the day.

When the field thinned enough to hit the money, it was GoMukYaSelf who moved all-in with pocket kings and PeachyMer with the call holding A♣ J♦. When an ace hit on the turn, GoMukYaSelf was ousted on the bubble in 307th place.

Play continued through the last few levels of the day with two PokerStars representatives still in action. Baseball legend and not-too-shabby poker player Orel Hershiser was certainly looking to do more than simply cash in the tournament, and amidst Level 21 action, he doubled up to stay alive for another day:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Not long after, Rabbiej doubled through Hershiser with A-6 versus K-Q, leaving the Cy Young award winner with less than 10,000 in chips. Two hands later, Hershiser pushed with 10♠ 7♠ against the K♥ 10♥ of Mudvaynes, and the board came 3♦ K♠ 10♣ A♠ 7♦ to knock Hershiser out of the tournament in 217th place.

Meanwhile, Team Pro Jan Heitmann of Germany had been sitting near or at the top of the leaderboard through the better part of the day, making an impressive run toward the second day of the Main Event. His chip stack fluctuated throughout the latter part of Day 1, though he didn’t take a big hit to his stack until late in Level 21 when he lost a 232K pot to pakd650.

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Jan Heitmann

By the time Day 1 action came to a close, TheMasterJ33 had jumped out to a serious chip lead after having recently won a 350K pot against SkaiWalkurrr with pocket sixes that held up to A♦ Q♣. That propelled TheMasterJ33 to the top, and the accumulation of chips continued to extend the lead over the rest of the pack.

Play stopped at the end of Level 22, and the tournament was paused, set to resume at 5:00pm ET on Monday, September 21, which was 11 hours and 10 minutes from break time. Players would start at the beginning of Level 23 with blinds 2,500/5,000 and a 625 ante, with 178 players still in the running and the average chip stack holding 240,898.

2009 WCOOP Main Event Top Ten Chip Counts:

1. TheMasterJ33 (925,921 chips)
2. pakd650 (776,413 chips)
3. 5902838181 (734,682 chips)
4. SexSeen (696,659 chips)
5. HEMIpowerSWT (695,540 chips)
6. GIVE_IT2 (654,843 chips)
7. Jovial Gent (632,010 chips)
8. reddeevil (611,559 chips)
9. GtRealGtOut (580,712 chips)
10. djk123 (555,410 chips)

Team PokerStars Pro remaining:
47. Jan Heitmann (321,457 chips)

All of the 2009 WCOOP information can be found on its special WCOOP website, and replays of the events can be found at PokerStars.TV. And tune in to this blog on Monday for the live chronicle of events as Main Event finds its new champion!


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