July 9, 2012 : 43RD WORLD SERIES OF POKER MAIN EVENT KICKS OFF
1,066 entrants for Day 1A
Poker pro Shaun Deeb's 92-year-old mother – and reportedly a tough poker player – Ellen Deeb did the "Shuffle Up and Deal" honours Saturday as the main event for this year's World Series of Poker kicked off with a Day 1A entry field of 1,066 – up 19 percent on last year.
Among the players taking part on this first day were two former WSOP champions – Pius Heinz and Joe Hachem – and a liberal sprinkling of event bracelet holders past and present that included seven-time ace Billy Baxter, Ivan Demidov, 12-bracelet champ Phil Hellmuth, Soi Nguyen, Mike Sexton, Eric Baldwin, Barry Shulman and his equally potent wife Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, Allen Cunningham, Tatjana Pasalic, Mike Matusow, Erica Schoenberg, Tommy Vedes, David Williams and Kathy Liebert.
Hellmuth, notorious for his grand-standing and late entrances, surprised everyone by quietly taking his seat without any fanfare, although he was soon voicing opinions on everything and everyone.
Among the notable ‘celebrity' names that railbirds can expect to see this year are actors and regular WSOP entrants Jennifer Tilly, Gabe Kaplan, Jason Alexander, Kevin Pollock and Ray Romano; professional hockey player Roberto Luongo, UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre and Shane Warne, the high profile Aussie cricketer.
Day 1A is typically the slowest of the three starting days, and officials revealed that there has already been 3,000 registrations, raising hopes that the total field will ultimately top 6,000 players. Last year 6,865 players took part in the contest.
More than $8 million is expected to be the reward for the winner of this year's main event, which carries a buy-in of $10,000 if the player has not managed to win a seat in a satellite.
By level 3 of the action Saturday Joe Hachem and 1993 champion Jim Bechtel were both out of the competition, along with many other players.
Even more players had departed by level 4, including Greg Mueller, John Monnette, Allen Bari, Lee Markholt and Kathy Liebert… and Hellmuth was down to just 10,000 chips when we went to press.
Internet ace David "malicous222" or "ghettofabolous" Randall appeared to be the most successful player at that stage, entering the final level of the night with the top stack of 138,000 in chips. Other Day 1A leaders included Patrick Coughlin, Alain Roy, and Faraz Jaka.
Performing strongly were Vancouver Canucks ice hockey star Roberto Luongo and his brother Fabio.
World Series of Poker officials have confirmed that this year's 10-day long main event will feature the last eight former winners, starting from 2004 when Greg Raymer ruled the roost. The following year it was Joe Hachem (eliminated already on Day 1A this year), and the year after that was Jamie Gold, who won the biggest WSOP winner's prize ever.
Jerry Yang claimed the honour in 2007, and he was followed by the talented young Dane Peter Eastgate in 2008; Joe Cada in 2009; Jonathan Duhamel in 2010 and finally German ace Pius Heinz, who took home $8.7 million in 2011.
This year the action will continue until a final table of nine players has been reached, at which point proceedings will be adjourned until October 28, when the final drama deciding the 2012 winner will be screened on television.
Day 1B will be launched by UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre, and Nevada Senator Dean Heller will make the Shuffle Up and Deal Call for Day 1C.