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Williams, Chan surge during Level 1

7/7/2010

Tables are filled in both the Amazon Room and Pavilion as a pretty impressive field of at least 2,000 players is in action for Day 1C. It is indeed the day when the big names come to play, and of course I'll start with 2009 main event champion Joe Cada. The champ is sitting at the feature table with a crowd of fans watching his every move. Cada's first level back was a slow and steady one, as he ended with $28,300, just below the starting stack.

Someone who isn't taking Day 1 slowly is David Williams. One of the newest Team PokerStars Pros, Williams is absolutely crushing his table, surging to the top of the chip lead with more than $85,000. Having the chip lead at this point means nothing, but it is a great start for the 2004 main event runner-up. Two-time WSOP main event champion Johnny Chan hasn't seen anything resembling main event success recently, but he did have quite a good first level as he doubled his stack.

With only a few minutes to go in the level, Phil Hellmuth announced his presence at the 2010 WSOP main event. Cameras were flashing, players were standing and members of the media were shaking their heads as the 11-time WSOP champ walked in flanked by women and dressed as an MMA fighter. Prior to his Amazon Room entrance, Hellmuth was introduced by Bruce Buffer on a stage set up outside. Right before the final words were spoken, the microphone didn't cooperate and Buffer's voice was dead to the audience. Hellmuth then walked inside and took his seat at the secondary feature table, where the other players each put up $100 to be awarded to the player who knocks him out. What they should know is Hellmuth rarely goes out of the main event early and is looking for his third consecutive cash.

Heading out the door during the first level were 2010 Tournament of Champions champion Huck Seed and Dario Minieri. Scott Fischman suffered a few tough beats to start the day, and although he holds a short-ish chip stack at $12,000, there's plenty of play left with the blinds at $100/$200.

On the home front, ESPN Poker Club winner David Braun left for the first break with $34,000, a slight increase from the $30,000 starting stack. He's at a tough table with a Team PokerStars Pro member and a CardRunners instructor flanking him. I'll try to figure out who these players are by the next break. He's in a great mood, having a blast, and his wife is definitely more nervous than he is. Three of the Feldman Fivers also are out in force. Faraz Jaka had a great first level and chipped up to $50,000, Scotty Nguyen dropped a little bit to $23,000, and Chad Brown lost half his stack during the first level and is down to $15,000. Eric Baldwin is still ducking me, but he'll have the shirt on soon. He has $27,000 after the first level.

Small blinds: Lots of familiar faces in the crowd today, including musician Scott Ian, actress Trishelle Cannatella, 2009 November Niner Steve Begleiter, Daniel Negreanu, and previous main event champion Jerry Yang. ... Even the tournament directors like to have a little fun. One mentioned over the walkie-talkie that a certain "MJ" was playing at a table in the Pavilion. WSOP communications director Seth Palansky has never run so quickly through the room and was eventually let down when he saw a player at the specified table wearing a shirt with "JORDAN" on the back. Everyone had a good laugh ... except Palansky. ... Daniel Alaei was honored after the first level for his recent bracelet victory. Three bracelets at age 25. Well done, Daniel. ... There is an Eric Baldwin look-a-like playing just a few tables away. I made the mistake of going up to the wrong Baldwin, not once, but twice. ... Antonio Esfandiari and Chau Giang are at the same table.