LAS VEGAS -- Day 1B of the World Series of Poker brought more excitement. It brought a feeling of hope after a Day 1A turnout that surprised even many of the game's strongest supporters. It brought together players and created tables that could be found on the final days of any event. Most importantly, it brought out the stars.
A field of 2,114 players entered Day 1B, and scattered throughout the three tournament rooms at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino were some of the top talents in the game. Daniel Negreanu, Dan Harrington, Vanessa Selbst, Shaun Deeb and Maria Ho were just a few of the players who grabbed the attention of railbirds at the Rio. The fans who stayed late into the night remained pleased, as all of these players not only survived the day but also bagged some of the top stacks in the main event at its close.
Negreanu started off at a table in the Pavilion that included Sam Barnhart and Steve Zolotow. Negreanu's stack remained relatively flat during the early levels, but his move to the Amazon Room proved profitable. He finished Day 1B with 140,075 in chips and offered railbirds a great reason to hang around and return to watch his table again on Day 2.
"Anything over 50,000 or 60,000 I would've been happy with," Negreanu said, "140,000 just puts me in a really good position through Day 2. I can still be really aggressive."
Maria Ho remained in Brasilia Hall all day and stayed patient at a talent-filled table. During the early levels, Ho, holding 10-10, caught a key river 10 to give her a better full house than her opponent, who held 5-5 on an A-2-5-2-10 board. She had one of the largest stacks in the tournament all day long and will enter Day 2 on Tuesday with 130,425 in chips. Ho has shared a house with Selbst this Series, and until the very last hand, Ho held the honor of being the chip leader in the house.
Pros expect to see mostly unknowns at their tables on Day 1 of the main event, but Selbst had to get through a nightmare draw, which kept her in check, she said. She faced off against Antoine Saout, Ryan Lenaghan and Sammy Farha early on; then, after Saout's elimination, Scotty Nguyen joined the fun. On the final hand of the night, Selbst found pocket aces on the button and doubled through her opponent, who held pocket kings. She finished the day with a top-five stack of 168,350.
"It was definitely one of the tougher table draws," Selbst said. "I hit a couple big hands, but otherwise I didn't play that many big pots. It was pretty much coasting through."
In the Pavilion, Shaun Deeb's seat was a perfect one … just not for the typical poker reasons. For most of the day, the young pro found himself in the eye line of his 92-year-old grandmother, Ellen Deeb, who was playing in her second main event. Shaun kept watch throughout the day and even warned her table that she has a tendency to slow roll. Ellen made it through the first three levels but unfortunately couldn't make it through the day. Shaun Deeb's stack jumped during the final level, and he will bring 116,900 in chips into Day 2, along with hopes that a repeat of last year's bad beat (when A-A lost to A-6) isn't in his future.
Three former champions (Dan Harrington, Peter Eastgate and Jerry Yang) survived their Day 1 battle, while three others (Greg Raymer, Carlos Mortensen and Scotty Nguyen) could not. Harrington, Eastgate and Mortensen sat at adjacent tables in the Amazon Room, but Harrington was the only one to take advantage. The 1995 WSOP champion truly dominated his table, building his sack to 83,750.
One of the biggest eliminations of the day was that of another world champion, just not one familiar to the poker community. Georges St. Pierre fell victim to a tough starting table and was knocked out after only three hours of play. He walked out of the Amazon Room with a big smile on his face, and it was clear that he simply enjoyed the experience. Also eliminated on Day 1B: Tom Dwan, Bertrand Grospellier, Dennis Phillips, Mohsin Charania, John Hennigan, Victor Ramdin, Todd Brunson and Gavin Griffin.
Day 1C is expected to be huge. With more than 2,300 players registered as of 3 a.m. ET, it's clear that the 2012 WSOP main event will be one of the largest tournaments of all time and has the potential of topping last year's turnout of 6,865 players. Registration will be open until the start of Level 3 on Monday.
Here's a look at the unofficial chip leaders:
1. John Hoang (180,000)
2. James Schafer (171,250)
3. Vanessa Selbst (168,350)
4. Jeff Beckley (158,550)
5. Matt Woodward (158,500)
6. Nelius Foley (146,875)
7. Shawn Quillin (146,350)
8. Jason Somerville (144,725)
9. Daniel Negreanu (140,075)
10. Guang Pu Lin (135,700)
Small blinds: While many players were yawning and tired during the final level of play, Negreanu was dancing in the aisle. … Only two members of the 2011 WSOP main event final table have played so far this tournament -- Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko. The other seven players should be in action on Monday. … ESPN.com's Bernard Lee finished the day with 97,675 in chips. … Actor Robert Iler was eliminated during the final level. … Not many celebrities are playing this year, but Jason Alexander will play on Day 1C. … Surviving players from Day 1B will return on Tuesday. … Joe Cada and Jonathan Duhamel will begin their main event on Monday, as will the engaged David Sands and Erika Moutinho and some guy named Phil Ivey. … There is no media day this year, which means no additional days off for the field after Day 2. … After 58 events at the WSOP, women consisted of 4.9 percent of the total entries.