Day 1D of the $10 000 buy-in World Series of Poker main event started badly, as hundreds of players were turned away by apologetic officials after the last minute rush for registration took entry numbers over the maximum that could be seated. Later, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack had a meeting with disgruntled players who were offering suggestions that might enable them to play, but it was bad news – they would not be accommodated.
"We are sorry, and I am sorry," said Pollack. "The last thing that we ever want to do is deny people entry into our events."
Just after noon Harrah's, the organisers of the event, advised: "The Main Event registration is officially closed. All seats available on Day 1D have been sold. Final entrant numbers and prize pool information will be available late this evening after all reconciliation has been completed."
Good to their word, the company later published the confirmed numbers for this year's 40th Anniversary World Series of Poker Main Event as 6 494 players, generating a prize pool of $61 043 600 and a first prize of $8 548 435, with the cash bubble extending down to the last 648 players standing.
The Main Event drew 6 844 entries last year and 6 358 players in 2007.
Total players admitted on Day 1D ran to 2 809, with a feast for celeb and poker ace spotters that included: Scott Clements, Tom ‘durrrr' Dwan, last year's main event nner-up Ivan Demidov, Jeff Madsen, Phil Ivey, WSOP 08 main event winner Peter Eastgate, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Jesper Hougaard, Erick Lindgren, Scott Seiver, Robert Varkonyi, Michael Mizrachi, Antonio Esfandiari, Mark Seif, Shawn Sheikhan, Glen Chorny, Tom Hall, James Mackey, Josh Arieh, David Benyamine, Blair Hinkle, Cliff Josephy, Joao Barbosa, Josh Arieh, Huck Seed, Dario Minieri, Angel Guillen, Joe Hachem, Brian Lemke, Peter Jepsen, J.C. Tran, John Tabatabai, David Benefield, Paul Snead, Humberto Brenes, Max Pescatori, Dario Alioto and Michael Binger.
Internet experts Vivek Rajkumar, Sami "LarsLuzak" Kelopuro, Nenad Medic and Jordan Morgan were on the list, too.
Celeb poker players were there in numbers, too, including film and TV star Lou Diamond Phillips, comedian Ray Romano, author Sam Simon, former NBA player John Salley, comedy actor Marlon Wayans, and six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis.
And among a strong contingent of players on the distaff side were Vanessa Rousso, Jennifer Harman, Mimi Tran, Lisa Parsons, Shannon Elizabeth, Kathy Liebert, Clonie Gowen, Lynette Chan, Esther Taylor, Cyndy Violette and Lisa Hamilton.
ESPN commentators Lon McEachern and Norman Chad did a little comedic warm up before McEachern gave the call that set the Day 1D cards flying.
Just before 1am Vegas time, Day 1D concluded with 1 900 players left from the original entry field of 2809, with the following notable eliminations having already taken place: Dario Minieri, Lyle Berman, Tom Hall, Ray Romano, Eric Baldwin, Mimi Tran, Michael Binger, Scott Montgomery, Peter Feldman, Jeff Madsen, Phil Galfond, Charlie Ciresi, 2008 Ladies Event champion Svetlanan Gromenkova, Portuguese TD Joao Nunes, last year's ME runner up Ivan Demidov, David Williams, David Benefield, Dag Martin Mikkelsen, Chip Jett, Amir Vahedi, Sully Erna of rock group Godsmack, Scott Fischman, Scott Clements
One of the highights of the day was the presence of a true-blue WSOP veteran – Howard ‘Tahoe' Andrew – who was acknowledged and applauded by the crowded room. This Californian player captured two bracelets in 1976 in $1 000 and $2 500 No Limit Holdem events for a $23 000 and $28 000 windfall respectively. Since then, he has played every WSOP Main Event for the past 35 years, collecting seventeen total cashes including four Main Event in-the-money finishes and an 8th placing in 1984 to Jack Keller. 35 years WSOP experience, two bracelets and over $1,200,000 in tournament earnings puts Howard ‘Tahoe' Andrew in an elite class.
A curious incident occurred during the day when Tom ‘durrr' Dwan – an Internet player renowned for audacious play and outrageous swings in fortune, made a sidebet with Matthew Marafioti that he could not sink a number of liquor ‘shots' within a set space of time and keep them down. $5 000 was on the deal and incredibly, bearing in mind he was playing in a $10 000 buy-in tournament, Marafioti took on the bet. He appears to have kept the booze contained, but was subsequently penalised for swearing and decided to bag his 56 000 chips and go home. Dwan gave the tournament director a couple of $100 bills to make sure that Marafioti was ‘delivered' safely. Marafioti is unlikely to make the same error when he returns to play in Day 2 on Wednesday.
Troy Weber has the unofficial Day 1D chip lead on 353 000 on a day where average chip stacks were around 42 000, with players like Prahlad Friedman, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Blair Hinkle, J.C. Tran, Jesper Hougaard, David Benyamine, Kirk Morrison, Chad Brown, Kenny Tran and Phil Ivey already standing out at over 100 000.
WSOP officials have given a run-down on final table payouts for the really big winners this year,and it looks as if the nine who make the table will each earn over a million dollars. Those who don't quite make it and finish in positions 10 to 18 will have the consolation of paydays exceeding $500 000 each.
The Top Nine payments are likely to be as follows:
1st – $8 546 435
2nd – $5 182 601
3rd – $3 479 485
4th – $2 502 787
5th – $1 953 395
6th – $1 587 133
7th – $1 404 002
8th – $1 300 228
9th – $1 263 602
10th-12th – $896 730
13th-15th – $633 022
16th-18th – $500 557
With registrations now closed, the entry fields for the four Day Ones were 1A – 1 116; 1B – 873; 1C – 1 696 and 1D – 2 809.