True to the pre-publicity blurbs, Day 1C of the World Series of Poker Main Event saw pro-poker politician Barney Frank at the Rio in Las Vegas to trigger the day's action, and a grand entrance by uber-extrovert Phil Hellmuth.
Before giving the traditional ‘Shuffle Up and Deal' call, Frank talked about his new legislative proposals to regulate and legalise online poker in the United States. His bill HR2267 has had to be postponed in the House Financial Services Committee until September this year due to pressure of other work relating to the global economic crisis, but Frank said its companion bill, HR2266 – which seeks to hold the UIGEA regulations for another year – remains a priority.
Frank said that he continues to view Internet gambling as a right that must be protected.
To loud approbation, the Congressman said he was confident he would get the legalization through by 2010 in both cases, and he then officially started the Day 1C action before leaving for a tour of the World Series of Poker activities at the Rio and to address a press conference. Frank's comments were later widely reported by the major wire agencies.
Doubtless working publicity wonders for his UltimateBet.com sponsors, WSOP's top bracelet collector (he has eleven of them) Phil Hellmuth came through on his pre-publicity promises of a dramatic entrance, attended by a fancy-dressed retinue of around a hundred.
Decked out as a Roman emperor, Hellmuth arrived at the Rio atop a litter carried by four Roman bearers, and then attracted plenty of attention as he walked through the resort surrounded by 11 attractive women dressed and body-painted as gladiators, accompanied by two male trumpeters, one male announcer and 50 female muses dressed in white togas.
"I come here to conquer like Caesar!" Hellmuth boasted as he entered the Rio, clearly hoping to improve on what has been for him so far an undistinguished WSOP. "I'm here to win my 12th bracelet."
After progressing through the resort over flower petals strewn by his entourage, Hellmuth finally took his seat in the Amazon Room.
Politics and publicity aside, the attendance for Day 1C looked somewhat healthier than the previous day, with 1 696 starters, among them familiar names like Aleksandr Bolotin, Dan Harrington, Matt Hawrilenko, Jeff Lisandro, John Monnette, Scotty Nguyen, David Sklansky, Matt Savage, John Juanda, Marc Naalden, Gavin Griffin, Liz Lieu, Eric Lynch, Alex Jacob, Lee Watkinson, Amnon Filippi and Jonathan Little.
Creating his own ripple of interest was last year's third-place Main Event finisher, Dennis Phillips, accompanied by a gang of around 20 supporters in white shirts and red St. Louis Cardinals baseball caps.
Receiving congratulations on a quick recovery was Miami John Cernuto, who collapsed during Day 2 of the $2 500 Razz event and was hospitalised due to internal bleeding. He returned to the World Series of Poker and is playing in the Day 1C crowd. Also noted were Howard Lederer, Ylon Schwartz, Tom McEvoy, Todd Witteles, Justin Bonomo, Isabelle Mercier, Marcel Luske, J.J. Liu, Shawn Buchanan, Bill Chen, Kirill Gerasimov, Blair Rodman and Al "Sugar Bear" Barbieri.
Tournament director Jack Effel informed players that the program had been tweaked, and that Days 1C and 1D would be playing five levels. Day 2A, on Tuesday, will play five levels. Day 2B will play only four levels. Then when the field combines on Day 3, everyone will be on Level 10.
By late night Sunday Vegas time the fifth and final level had been reached, with blinds of 200 – 400 and a 50 chip ante. By then 1 284 of the original 1 696 entrants were still in action, but numbers were falling.
By midnight it appeared that a small number of players were starting to pull away from the pack, including Tyler Patterson (165 000) Igor ‘Jr Parlay' Borukhov (150 000) Jeff Lisandro (145 000) and Marc Naalden (135 000).
Perhaps more noticeable was the number of major names who had been eliminated during the day, including: Liv Boeree, Brandon Cantu, David "Chino" Rheem, Annie Duke, JJ Liu, Tom McEvoy, Daniel Negreanu and Evelyn Ng.
Official WSOP figures for Day 1B have confirmed that Brandon Demes heads the leaderboard for that day with 137 075. Survivors of Day 1B included Fabrice Soulier, Sam Khouiss, Shaun Deeb, Greg Raymer, Alex Kravchenko, Amarillo Slim Preston, Juha Helppi, Luca Pagano, Jerrod Ankenman, and Ali Eslami.
Play finally halted at 12.45am Monday morning, with Joe Cada in the still to be officially confirmed lead on around 187 000 chips. Day 1D – the last day where late registrations can be expected, is reported to be filling up fast, with some estimates saying that the final Day One heat could see as many as 2 400 players around the tables. Phil Hellmuth was in reportedly foul mood minutes before the close of Day 1C business with a chip stack down to 25 000.