After the first two Day Ones caused some consternation as to how large the 2011 WSOP Championship Event would be, the players came out over the weekend in droves. By the end of Day 1D registration on Sunday, those fears were laid to rest as the 2011 Championship Event hit 6865 players, making this year’s tournament the third largest field in the history of the tournament.
On Sunday, 2809 players joined the 4056 hopefuls that filled the previous three Day Ones to give us our final field of 6865 players. While fewer than last year’s 7319 runners who came to the line, it still makes for the third largest WSOP Championship Event in history behind only 2010 and the massive field of 2006 (8773). It may be a bit early to look at such things, but 693 will chop up the $64,531,000 prize pool and, come November, the next World Champion will receive a payday of $8,711,956.
There were many Canadian players who decided to make the final Day 1 their starting day for this year’s Championship Event. In the early going, Erik Cajelais pulled off an astounding bluff as, with a board reading 10-7-K-Q-A and facing a 5525 from his opponent, Erik moved the remainder of his stack to the center of the table. After deducing that Erik was holding a K-J and agonizing over the decision,
Erik’s opponent finally dropped his hand into the muck. Erik casually turned over his cards – a measly 8-5 of spades – and boosted his stack to nearly double the starting stack of 30K.
A player who had some difficulties in the first level of the day was Alexander Wice. He bled chips in the early going and couldn’t seem to pull out of the dive. By the end of the first level – and after having to lay his hand down on a K-J-J-Q-Q board – Alexander was sitting around 18,000 in chips.
Greg Mueller took a different approach to garnering chips. Rather than going for the huge knockout, “FBT” relied on a slow, steady approach. By the end of the first level, he had improved his stack to 39K but, by the end of Day 1D action, he was down to around 28,250. He was joined by Erik (41K) in finishing Day 1D, but not by Alexander.
The top two Canadian players are familiar names to the Canadian audience. Andrew Chen, who has earned two cashes at the 2011 WSOP, ended the day of play on Sunday with 128,900 in chips. He was topped for the day, however, by Doug Lee, who is currently holding 133,950 in chips. Brad “Yukon” Booth can also report an excellent Day 1 performance, holding a stack of 109,300 to come back to play with on Tuesday.
With the four Day Ones complete, Fred Berger can now lay claim to being the Day 1 chip leader, a dubious achievement as no player holding the Day One lead has ever won the World Championship. Holding a stack of 209,000, Berger will be back in action on Monday with the 2030 fellow players who made it through Days 1A and 1C. Some of the Canadian players who will be taking to the felt for Day 2A include defending World Champion Jonathan Duhamel, Gavin Smith, Sorel Mizzi, 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Tyler Bonkowski and Pat Pezzin.
While the 2031 players head back to the felt on Monday for Day 2A, the Day 2B field is set with 2510 players. 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Ben Lamb will be the leader of the pack for Tuesday’s action, sitting on a stack of 188,925. Wednesday will be a scheduled day off for the 2011 WSOP Championship Event.
With well over 4000 players still in the mix, the field will not clear up and demonstrate some distinctive trends until late in the week, at best. Expect the two Day Twos to eliminate about half the field, leaving an approximate 2000 players left when they come together for the first time on Thursday. We probably won’t get to the money bubble – when the tournament REALLY begins – until Friday.
For all the naysayers (including this writer), the 2011 WSOP Championship Event has proven to be undented by any of the concerns of the online poker community. Bringing together the third largest field in history is a statement not only to the venerable institution of the WSOP but also to the competitive spirit of poker players in general. As such, we will be rewarded with another battle for the World Championship that should be one for the ages.