The NRL has State of Origin. The NFL has the Pro Bowl. The NBA, NHL and various other professional sports all have their All-Star games. The World Series of Poker has the $50,000 buy-in HORSE tournament to “sort the pros from the Joes”.
The average person is lucky to earn US$50,000 in a year, let alone plonk it down for entry into a poker tournament. Yet a 95-player strong field would come together for a shot at poker immortality and the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
The field was slightly disappointing; down from the 148 players from both 2007 and 2008, but with the world economy, lack of TV coverage, swine flu, etc, a drop was expected this year.
Many of the world’s most recognisable players would come to the felt, including defending champion Scotty Nguyen, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, David Benyamine, Mike Matusow, Johnny Chan, Gus Hansen, Erick Lindgren, and Jennifer Harman to name but a few.
Jeff Lisandro, Jason Gray, and Tony G would all be flying the flag as the Australian contingent in the tournament.
Lisandro fresh from his third bracelet win of the series would fair the best of the Aussies on the day, up to 188,000 chips at one point, he tumbled late to fall to 148,000 when they bagged the chips.
Jason Gray finished with 110,500, seemingly not getting above his starting stack. Tony G would finish with fewer than 100,000 chips, The G with a lot of work to do for his ChipMeUp fans at 91,000.
With the fixed limit format of HORSE, the day only saw four eliminations - Steve Zolotow the first to take the walk of shame, before he was joined by 2008 Aussie Millions Champion Alexander Kostritsyn, David Singer, and Dan Shak, as day one eliminations.
Hassan Habib would finish the day as chip leader with 387,000 chips, more then double his starting stack, with Martin Vallo 347,200 and Matt Glantz 300,000 as the only players in the field to have doubled up on day one.
David Benyamine (263,200), Chris Ferguson (242,000), Andy Black (235,000), Johnny Chan (234,000), and Erik Seidel (230,000) all made up a group of high profile pros giving chase in the tournament top ten.
With such a stacked field and a slow rate of play the action is sure to be slightly hotter tomorrow as the players grind out the five days of mixed game madness to the capture the 2009 Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, named in honour of the late former champion of this event.
All the action can be followed live on PokerNews.com or by following the daily summaries here on PokerNetwork.
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