There’s been another Big One for One Drop and a thrilling Poker Players Championship. Phil Ivey, Vanessa Selbst and many other big names have added to their bracelet collections, and Daniel Negreanu vaulted to the top of the all-time tournament money list. And yet in many ways, the World Series of Poker hadn’t even begun until this week.
The 2014 WSOP Main Event is now underway, with thousands of players aiming to win the most famous prize in the poker world. This year’s tournament comes with a thrilling twist, in that the winner is guaranteed to walk away with a prize of at least $10 million, the first time the WSOP has offered such a large guarantee to players.
As in every recent Main Event, the tournament began with multiple starting flights. This year, there were three starting days to choose from, with the first beginning on Saturday, June 5. The three sections are remaining separate for their second days as well, before merging for Day 3 on Thursday, July 10.
Traditionally, the first starting day is the smallest, with most players choosing to play as late as possible to cut down on hotel costs. That pattern remained in effect this year, as just 771 players put up their $10,000 buy-ins on Day 1A. That number swelled to 2,144 on Day 1B, which suggested the tournament would likely surpass the 6,352 players who took part in 2013. That was confirmed on Day 1C, when 3,768 players showed up to push the total field to 6,683 players. That made Day 1C the largest single starting day in Main Event history, while the total field was the 5th largest in the history of the tournament.
Early eliminations of big names always make a stir, and people noticed when Jason Mercier, Phil Laak, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Joseph Cheong were eliminated in the first two flights, among others. Sam Trickett and Phil Collins were among the early eliminations on Day 1C, with Tom Dwan being eliminated when his two pair were trounced by a flush all in, shortly before the night’s “bag and tag” of chips for the following day’s play.
And second in chips coming in at the start of Day Two is the person no one wants to come up against in a tournament: Phil Ivey.
Beyond play, there were some interesting tales from the floor in the early going. There was a minor controversy on Day 1B over bathroom usage, as men frustrated with long lines were using the women’s bathroom in the main hallway, even when women were also obviously using it. That was quickly reported by Vanessa Selbst and other women participating in the tournament, and the WSOP speedily dispatched security to make sure men stayed out of the ladies room.
One of the other major topics of discussion early on came from the fact that one popular player wasn’t in the Main Event this year. Doyle Brunson tweeted out a message saying that he would not be participating, saying that at age 80, the “hours are just too damn long.” Brunson, who won the Main Event in 1976 and 1977 and has ten bracelets in total, surprised fans and fellow players last year by participating after he said he’d be sitting out the entire World Series. It ended up being a great run for Brunson, who finished in the money at 408th place.
The WSOP Main Event will continue until July 14, when a final table will be reached. The last nine players will then return on November 10 to determine this year’s champion.