by Nolan Dalla
No-Limit Hold’em World Championship
Number of Entries: 6,598
Number of Players Remaining: 4,344
Total Net Prize Pool: $62,021,200
Number of Places Paid: 666
First Place Prize: $8,527,982
July 9th through October 29th, 2012
The gold rush is underway!
The world's richest and most prestigious poker tournament is now going strong at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas.
The 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship completed the first step of an arduous journey toward the game's ultimate achievement -- poker's undisputed world championship. All three starting flights, designated as Days 1A, 1B, and 1Care now complete. The final starting day ended late Monday night.
The official number of entrants for this year’s Main Event Championship is 6,598 players. This is the fifth largest live poker tournament in history.
There are many ways to interpret this number, and just about everyone will have an opinion as to the implications of the
total number of entries. But the bottom line is, Main Event attendance surpassed just about everyone’s projections for this year. No matter what the challenge, no matter what the distractions, no matter what the global economy is like -- poker players are drawn to the WSOP like moths to a giant flame.
With the final numbers now tabulated, total prize money for all 2012 WSOP events set an all-time record. This year's grand sum will exceed $220 million – the highest ever. In fact, total prize money was up by 15.6%t over last year. As for the Main Event, the top 666 finishers will divide a prize pool amounting to $62,021,200. Each player who cashes will collect at least $19,227. The champion will earn a whopping $8,527,982 in addition to a platinum and diamond-encrusted bracelet valued at $150,000 -- but most would say the value of it is priceless..
To accommodate the large field, multiple starting days were required. Day 1A began on Saturday with 1,066 players and ended with 657 survivors. Day 1B was completed on Sunday with 2,114 starters and ended with 1,387 survivors. Day 1C finished up Monday with 3,418 starters and ended with 2,300 survivors. So, a combined 4,344 players who are still alive in the Main Event, entering Day Two (2A and 2B). What is certainly known is that thousands of poker players attended this year's World Championship, from an estimated 100 different nations.
With the three cumulative Day Ones now in the books, several well known poker players have been eliminated, while others have prospered. Some highlights from the first three sessions include:
DAY 1A: Among those who fell off the victory train were -- Twelve-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth (1989 World Champion), who was never able to gain any traction from the moment he took his seat at 4pm on Saturday. Hellmuth was below the chip average the entire day and finally busted out about 10pm. Jim Bechtel (1993 Champion) and Joe Hachem (2005 Champion) also walked early from the Main Event. Aside from three World Champions who unwillingly hit the rail during the first day, several other notable players went out. Frank Kassela, the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year was among those who had his dreams of victory dashed. Other mentionable casualties included actor Ray Romano, and gold bracelet winners Eric Froehlich, Allen Bari, Greg Mueller, Kathy Liebert, and Ted Lawson.
While Day 1A was a rocky day for 2011 World Champion Pius Heinz, he survived an early storm and will return for Day Two. The reigning champ spent ten of the 12 playing hours well below the chip average. At one point, he was down to about 10,000 in chips from a 30,000 starting stack, and appeared to be on the verge of an early elimination. But Heinz doubled up late in the night and ended the session with 39,275 in chips, -- which is only slightly below average. In recent years, past champions have fared poorly in their title defense. In fact, Peter Eastgate was the last reigning champion to cash the year following his victory, in 2009.
DAY 1B: The second starting day included more noteworthy bust outs. The carnage continued Sunday when three more big names went out, including 2001 World Champion Carlos Mortensen, who hit the rail during the third level of play. He was followed to the exit door by Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, just a short time later. Close to the end of the night, Scotty Nguyen went bust. Gold bracelet winners who will have to wait until next year include -- Adam Friedman, Scott Montgomery, David Singer, Johnny "World" Hennigan, Gavin Griffin, Ville Wahlbeck, Theo Jorgensen, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Todd Brunson, Bertrand Grospellier, and Men "The Master" Nguyen.
DAY 1C: Among those busting out on Day 1C were Chris Moneymaker (2003 World Champion), who suffered another disappointing WSOP. The man who most agree sparked the modern-day poker boom made a nice run back in 2010, but has now busted out on the first day for the second consecutive year. 2010 Champion Jonathan Duhamel also went out, failing to be much of a force for the half day he spent in the Main Event. Other former gold bracelet winners who hit the rail included David "Bakes" Baker, Thor Hansen, David Bach, Humberto Brenes, and others. Of special note was another strong performance by "Big One for One Drop" champion Antonio Esfandiari, who won the richest prize in poker history last week ($18 million). Esfandiari survived the day and is currently ranked above average -- at 78,925 in chips. Doyle Brunson also deserves a mention. The Hall of Famer almost didn't even play this year, but a friend persuaded him to sign up at the last minute. It is working out well for him so far. He finished slightly above Esfandiari with 81,400.
The current overall chip leader (for all Day One's combined) is William John, from Australia. While it’s still early, John is at the top of the poker world. at the moment. John was one of only two players (Jason Laso) to break the 200,000-chip mark and he didn't just crack it, he breezed right past the threshold to finish with 266,700 chips. Surprisingly, John has no history of ever cashing at the WSOP before. If history is any indication, the early leader now has about a 50 percent chance of cashing in this tournament. Since results were tracked, only about half of the early leaders made it into the money. Only one player in recent memory held the Day One chip lead and then went on to win the World Championship -- Joe Cada back in 2009. Day 1C Chip Counts Day 1A survivors (from Saturday) will continue play on Tuesday as a segregated group in the Amazon Room. The restart will be at noon. Day 1B survivors (from Sunday) will also continue play on Tuesday as a segregated group Brasilia and Pavilion rooms. The restart will also be a noon.
Day 1C survivors (from Monday) will enjoy and off day and return to play on Wednesday, at noon in all three ballrooms.
The Main Event Championship continues through July 16th. On that date, the final nine survivors are expected to finally be known. The elite band of super survivors will become this year’s “November Nine,” a term which refers to the nine final players who will compete at the final table for the world championship, to take place in late October, once again at the Rio (Note: This year's so-called November Nine will play the finale one week earlier than normal, due to the U.S. Presidential Election being held during the first week in November).
At this moment, October and November seem to be a very long way off. Few may actually be dreaming about the golden road to poker's magical kingdom of fame and fortune. For now, most players are determined to play their best poker and try and survive the early stages of what will prove to be a marathon contest of physical and mental endurance as well as a test of poker skills. But -- every meaningful journey begins with an initial first step. On these Day Ones, thousands of poker players from all over the world took their huge leap forward in pursuit of poker's ultimate prize -- a WSOP gold bracelet and immortality as the 2012 World Champion.
THE MAIN EVENT BEGINS
The World Series of Poker begins with four simple words that have become just as synonymous with opening day as the kickoff or first pitch. WSOP tournament directors and their designated guests traditionally say “Shuffle Up and Deal” just prior to the start of play. Since there were three Day Ones this year, three starting ceremonies were performed.
The first day (1A) began with a special moment. Ninety-two-year-old Ellen “Gram” Deeb, from Upstate New York arrived in Las Vegas to play in her second consecutive WSOP Main Event, after her “rookie” year in 2011. Deeb performed this year’s honorary “Shuffle Up and Deal” announcement to absolute perfection, adding her own quip, “I just have one thing to say – you’re all playing for second!” Unfortunately, "Gram" Deeb will have to try again next year. She was eliminated on Day 1B.
The second starting day (1B) Mixed-Martial Arts superstar and UFC welterweight World Champion George St. Pierre put his own twist on the “Shuffle Up” announcement. When St. Pierre was introduced, Tournament Director Jack Effel warned players not to get out of line or St. Pierre would be there to dish out a real "bad beat." Then, St. Pierre – who played in his first WSOP event ever on this day – told everyone to watch out, that he would never “tap out” of the Main Event. As things turned out, St. Pierre went out during the first day “by decision,” as the cards dealt him an exit in the first round.
The third starting day (1C) included an entirely different twist. First, two-time gold bracelet winner Howard "Tahoe" Andrew was introduced to the crowd as the record holder with the longest current streak of attending the WSOP -- currently at 38 straight years, and counting. Andrew's first WSOP took place in 1974. Next, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), took the stage and reiterated his support for protecting the rights of poker players. Sen. Heller then uttered poker's most famous words, which launched a flurry of first hands for the record-setting field.
This marks WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel’s seventh consecutive year to oversee tournament operations. He has supervised more WSOP tournaments and awarded more prize money than any tournament official in poker history.
This is the fifth-largest live poker tournament in history. Here are the seven largest live poker tournaments in history:
1. 2006 WSOP Main Event – 8,773 players
2. 2010 WSOP Main Event – 7,319 players
3. 2011 WSOP Main Event – 6,865 players
4. 2008 WSOP Main Event – 6,844 players
5. 2012 WSOP Main Event -- 6,598 players* (new)
6. 2009 WSOP Main Event – 6,494 players
7. 2007 WSOP Main Event – 6,358 players
All players began this tournament with 30,000 in chips. Tables began play at ten-handed. The reason play was ten-handed instead of nine-handed was primarily to accommodate the large number of registrants. However, by the end of the third level, most tables were down to nine-handed action.
This is the fourth year players were given triple the number of starting chips.
By contrast, all WSOP Main Events played from 1971 through 2005 allotted players precisely 10,000 in starting chips. In years 2006-2008, players began with 20,000 in chips.
Each Day One played five full levels. Each level is two hours long. Days generally began at 12:10pm and ended at 12:50am
Day One (all flights combined) ended with 4,344 players out of 6,598 starters. This number means 65.8% of starters survived the first day. Last year, this survival figure was 66 percent. The previous year, the figure was 72 percent.
FORMER WORLD CHAMPIONS
There are 36 different players who have won the WSOP Main Event Championship. Of this number, 27 past champions are still alive.
Current Status of former champions reads as follows (some chip counts are estimated since actual figures will not be available until Tuesday morning):
1975/1976: Doyle Brunson –81,400 in chips (above average)
1983: Tom McEvoy – 24,125 (below average)
1986: Berry Johnston –Eliminated on Day One
1987/1988: Johnny Chan – 82,300 in chips (above average)
1989: Phil Hellmuth – Eliminated on Day One
1993: Jim Bechtel -- Eliminated on Day One
1995: Dan Harrington –83,750 (above average)
1996: Huck Seed – 35,025 (below average)
1998: Scotty Nguyen --Eliminated on Day One
2001: Carlos Mortensen –Eliminated on Day One
2002: Robert Varkonyi –73,325 (above average)
2003: Chris Moneymaker –Eliminated on Day One
2004: Greg “Fossilman” Raymer –Eliminated on Day One
2005: Joe Hachem –Eliminated on Day One
2006: Jamie Gold –24,800 (below average)
2007: Jerry Yang – 71,775 (above average)
2008: Peter Eastgate - 47,600 (above average)
2009: Joe Cada –117,375 in chips (above average)
2010: Jonathan Duhamel -- Eliminated on Day One
2011: Pius Heinz –39,275 (average stack)
For the modern era, at the conclusion of Day One, the eventual WSOP champions and their chip positions were as follows:
2003 – Chris Moneymaker, 60,475 in chips (ranked 11th)
2004 – Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 74,400 in chips (ranked 7th)
2005 – Joe Hachem, 67,350 in chips (not in top 25)
2006 – Jamie Gold, 100,125 in chips (ranked 23rd)
2007 – Jerry Yang, 99,700 in chips (not in top 25)
2008 – Peter Eastgate, 62,325 in chips (not in top 25)
2009 – Joe Cada, 187,225 in chips (ranked 1st)
2010 – Jonathan Duhamel, 53,200 in chips (not in top 25)
2011 -- Pius Heinz, 81,900 in chips (not in top 25)
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2012 World Series of Poker Presented by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada
End of Day One