There are numerous ways by which to measure the extent of poker’s popularity: the number of players in the Sunday Million; the first prize at the EPT Grand Final; the amount of times per day you hear a story starting “So I had ace-king under-the-gun” to name but three. However, it probably says as much, if not more, about the game’s current standing to note that today in the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino was just a pretty normal day at the World Series of Poker. A fascinating day, of course. But just another ordinary, extraordinary day.
From the top: by noon, 805 players had showed up to play the $5,000 short-handed no limit hold ’em event, including at least six members of Team PokerStars Pro. At the end of the day, the field had been shredded to the last 90 standing and although only one of those was wearing the PokerStars livery, he was sitting behind a monster stack.
ElkY, for it is he, will come back with about 153,000, closing in on the leader’s approximate 180,000.
In one of the outer rooms a man named Humberto Brenes was quietly going about his business. By about 4pm, the Team PokerStars Pro from Costa Rica had done again what he does best: earned some money at the World Series.
He made it deep into the $1,000 re-buy event, eventually busting in 77th place for $7,776. It was the 52nd cash of his World Series career, and the fourth on this trip to Vegas.
There was also a final table — the $1,500 Omaha hi-lo event in which Joe Hachem made the money yesterday — and then a stud eight or better tournament broke out in the Brasilia room. Like I said, it was an ordinary, extraordinary day.
But wait, did I forget something? Oh yeah, there was also the return of the 142 remaining players in the $50,000 HORSE World Championship, chasing a first prize of $1.9million. Team PokerStars Pro was exceptionally well represented here, with eight contenders at the start of the day, seven of whom remained in the final 70 to come back for day three tomorrow.
Of course, some had fared better than others, and the unfortunate man to take the walk was Greg Raymer, who got thumped pretty hard by some rough beats. But Barry Greenstein (475,000 approx), Daniel Negreanu (360,000), Bill Chen (325,000), Chad Brown (302,000), Isabelle Mercier (150,000), Katja Thater (102,000) and Dario Minieri (55,000) are all showing their impressive colours in what is known to be the stiffest competition in the game.
And there were some pretty nice match-ups in today’s play. Before he left, Raymer was trapped between Shawn Sheikhan and Mike Matusow in a made-for-the-cameras, pantomime villain sandwich.
After Sheikhan departed, Chen joined the fold to sit next to his team-mate Raymer, and was responsible for lifting a good number of his chips. (And some good mathematical calculations to help out your beleaguered writer. See below.)
One table across, meanwhile, Mercier sat along from Negreanu, with both players holding off the threat of the likes of Patrik Antonius, not to mention one another, to stay in the hunt. Over their shoulders, Minieri had found himself two seats away from Doyle Brunson, and they provided a neat image of poker’s esteemed past next to its thrilling future, overlapping in the intriguing present.
While all these fireworks were going off elsewhere, Thater, Brown and Greenstein kept their cool and remained among the chips, three of the brightest stars in a tournament studded with them. Thater took a big pot during the stud round right at the death tonight to haul herself back past the 100,000 mark.
Tomorrow, of course, will be another day, and it won’t get any easier. But really it will just be another ordinary, extraordinary day, when we’ll get close to the money in that HORSE event, as well as crown another couple of champions. Nothing to get too excited about, unless millions of dollars are your thing.
In the meantime, take a closer look at what happened today:
Day two preview: Feel free to play poorly
Moneymaker relishes his lack of cashes
Victoria Coren does Vegas
Crawling forward in the HORSE
In the pink, kind of…
Mercier playing for mom
A familiar face at the cashiers’ cage
Mattusow, Sheikhan and Raymer: Made for TV
Running good, running bad. Time for some luck
Daniel Negreanu’s brush with Obama
Odds and ends
Quick death in the short-handed
And if you prefer all that in video form, the PokerStars.tv video blog team have also been with us here in Vegas and offer a wrap of the HORSE event for day two:
Watch WSOP 08: HORSE Day 2 Overview on PokerStars.tv