Welcome to the first day of our 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) coverage. With 68 events on the calendar for this series, we're excited to be bringing you all of the stories from the Rio in Las Vegas over the next month and a half, especially focusing on the Canadian contingent.
Wednesday, May 27, was like Christmas morning in the poker world ... if Christmas lasted 49 days and gave away $200,000,000. And like Christmas morning when the little kids are up first and opening their presents before the grown-ups, the series kicked off with a low-priced event just for casino employees.
Event #1: $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em
It was two years ago when one of PokerNews' own, Senior News Editor Chad Holloway, won this event, forever earning himself the prefix of "bracelet winner" in front of his name. It's one of the most prized titles in the game, and the WSOP gives employees of the industry a chance to earn it every year.
In this first event of the series, 688 players took their seat in the Brasilia Room with a starting stack of 5,000 chips, which is down significantly from last year's 876 when Roland Raparejo won the best prize of $82,835. It's a bit of a faster structure compared to the regular bracelet events with shorter stacks and shorter levels (40 minutes), making this just a two-day tournament. The first bracelet winner will be found on Thursday here in Event #1.
By the time Day 1 concluded, less than 10% of the field remained after more than 12 hours of playing. Just 51 players are left and they are all in the money now; the bubble burst just before the last level of the night when Michael Kahn called an all-in raise on the turn. He was behind with to the at-risk player's on the board, but the on the river completed Kahn's straight and won him the pot, eliminating his opponent on the bubble.
Coming back for Day 2 will be Stephen Gilbert with the most chips at 236,500. Right on his heels is fellow American Blake Robbins with 233,000. Nobody else has tipped over the 200,000 mark. The top Canadian remaining is Martin Butler from Ottawa, Ontario with 127,000, which puts him in sixth on the chip count.
Johnny Gagelonia (50,000) and Shane Petreau (25,000) are the only other two Canadians who survived Day 1. One more Canadian, Adam Hawkins, was eliminated late in the day to earn $970 for a 65th-place finish. He earns the honour of being Canada's first WSOP cash of 2015.
Action resumes for the second and final day of Event #1 on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Amazon Room, and we'll be back to report on the very first bracelet winner of the 2015 WSOP.
Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em
It was a long and exhausting day for players in the first open event of the series. The full-ring hold'em tournament with a buy-in of $5,000 was the real kick-off to the series, ensuring the serious WSOP grinders would all be at the Rio from Day 1 to get their summer started. With the first cards not being dealt until 4 p.m., it was about 3 a.m. when the remaining players finally bagged and tagged their stacks for Day 2.
There were 422 entries for this tournament, and it was a star-studded field with the biggest names in the game found at nearly every table. The same event last year had a much larger field with 696 players, but that would be due to it appearing on the schedule in late June when the series is in full swing. David Miscikowski won the bracelet last year, earning $719,707 in prize money to go with the title. He entered the event again this year, but was eliminated halfway through the day.
There will be 171 players returning for Day 2 on Thursday, but none with more chips than Rong Li. The American was one of two players to step over the 200,000 mark, stacking up 215,000. The other was Darryl Ronconi with 211,100.
The top Canadian on the leaderboard can be found in Sam Greenwood who is on our PokerNews Canada players to watch. He finished the day with 107,900. Canada's only WSOP Main Event winner, Jonathan Duhamel will also return with 34,100 chips. The final Canadian still holding on to chips is Mark Radoja with 18,000.
Both Mike Leah and Justin Oliver, both of whom are also on our PokerNews Canada players to watch, were eliminated in Day 1.
There are plenty of notable players to mention that are still in this event. They include Martin Jacobson (173,800), Greg Merson (100,600), Tony Gregg (94,000), Antonio Esfandiari (82,900), Bryn Kenney (80,000), Faraz Jaka (68,300), Maria Ho (65,000), Kevin MacPhee (64,000), Mukul Pahuja (61,100), and many others.
Some of the players who were eliminated on Day 1 include Anthony Zinno, Jonathan Little, Joe Cada, JC Tran, Allen Kessler, and Vanessa Rousso.
The remaining players will return at 2 p.m. on Thursday for Day 2 of this four-day event. Check back with PokerNews Canada for a recap of that action and to see how our Canadians are doing at the tables.
Details courtesy of the WSOP Live Blog.