Former Senator and chairman Alfonse D'Amato of the pressure group Poker Players' Alliance was in Las Vegas to make the traditional "Shuffle Up and Deal" call that started Day 1D – the fourth and last Day One heat in this year's World Series of Poker.
D'Amato took the opportunity to appeal to cheering players to lobby their political representatives and ask them to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act before making the call, which was followed by a brassy clash that startled more than a few players until it was realised that a long-haired and elegantly suited player had turned impromptu cymbals virtuoso!
With that, some 1 474 contestants got down to business in a field that included former champ Jamie Gold, Gus Hansen, Steve Zolotow, Bill Edler, Daniel Negreanu, Chip Reese, Ralph Perry, Ed Moncada, Theo Jorgenson, David Benyamine, Erica Schoenberg, Eric Froehlich, Devon Miller,Freddy Deeb, Isaac Haxton, Joe Bartholdi, Carlos Mortenson, Fred Goldberg, Susie Isaacs, Martin de Knijff, Tomer Benvenisti, Padraig Parkinson, Dan Nelson, Van Marcus, David Chiu, Maria Ho, Brett "Gank" Jungblut, Young Phan, "Syracuse" Chris Tsiprailidis, Alan Boston, Brad Booth, Jeff Cabanillas, Christian Grundtvig, Ted Forrest, Leif Force and Doug "Rico" Carli.
Adding to the celeb glitz was movie and TV star Hank Azaria, although he unfortunately did not survive the first half of the contest.
Overflow from the Amazon Room was initially accommodated in the Bluff tented pavilion.
During the first half three notable events occurred. In the first Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who has submitted a Bill to legalise online poker spoke to a group of players about his bill.
"A few months ago, the government made a big mistake," Wexler said, referring to the passage of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. "They butted into the lives of Americans and told them they couldn't play poker. Poker is as much our pastime as baseball," Wexler told the audience. "It's a game of skill," he said as the crowd cheered.
He then joined the PPA call, urging the players to write their political representatives and support his proposed legalization that allows Americans to gamble on skill games, including poker.
The crowd again roared its approval, as Wexler and D'Amato continued their tour of the WSOP floor.
The second was the release of official figures showing that a total of 6 358 players entered the 2007 WSOP Main Event, creating a prizepool of $59 784 954 from which 621 places will be paid, and each player who cashes will be guaranteed at least $20 320. First place will win $8 250 000 – well short of last year's $12 million.
2 415 fewer players entered the Main Event in 2007 than in 2006, probably due to the barring of online poker sponsorship registrations.
Day 1 numbers look like this:
* Day 1A: 1 287
* Day 1B: 1 545
* Day 1C: 1 743
* Day 1D: 1 474
The third event was the traditionally late and attention grabbing arrival of Phil Hellmuth, replete in racing overalls and escorted by 11 challenge-striped costumed hotties representing his record 11 WSOP bracelets. Unfortunately, this is not Hellmuth's year for this main event, as he was eliminated well down the field.
Hellmuth may have been off his usual game following an incident the previous day when he crashed the UltimateBet sponsored racing car when the steering locked up on him in the Rio parking area during a publicity stunt.
Notable among Day 1D starters was the antethesis of the young guns – a 94 years old contestant named only as Mr. Ury, who became the oldest player yet in World Series of Poker history.
Eliminations soon started to create spaces at the tables. Among the early departures was Phil Hellmuth, 2007 champ Jamie Gold, Robert Williamson III, Erik Lindgren, Cyndy Violette, William Thorson, Steve Zolotow, Dutch Boyd, Freddy Deeb, Erica Schoenberg, Martin de Knijff, Tuan Le, Chip Reese, David Benyamine, young gun Jim Mackey, Antonio Esfandiari and Justin "Hux" Huxley.
STOP PRESS: Play in Day 1D ended at 03h46 Las Vegas time on the morning of Tuesday, July 10 with an (unofficial) count of 660 players remaining. This is the last of four Day 1's. Those who survived Days 1a and 1b will meet tomorrow in Day 2a. Those who survived Days 1c and 1d will play Wednesday for Day 2b. Unofficial estimates are that Josh Evans is in the chip lead with 240 000.