Poker: Day 1C

The winner of the 2013 World Series of Poker main event will win a life-changing $8.3 million, but for the 6,352 players in the field, the journey has just begun. Day 1C set records as the largest single starting day in main event history and the buzz around the Rio was palpable. Each of the Amazon, Brasilia and Pavilion Rooms were packed near capacity as 3,467 players battled to begin their main event on the right foot.

Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth found prosperity on Day 1C, each maneuvering through their tables efficiently. Mizrachi's day concluded with an up-and-down level where his stack varied from 150,000 to 200,000. His active approach frustrated his table at times and that was exactly what he hoped for.

"You're playing with a lot of players who aren't experienced in the main event and they don't want to bust Day 1," said Mizrachi, who finished the day with 176,100 in chips. "You can use your image against them, and while I had a few tough players at my table, there were some soft spots and it all worked out well for me."

Ivey took a similar active approach and dominated his amateur-filled table during the final level to finish with 119,650 in chips. At his first table, Ivey chipped up by winning small pots postflop, but once he moved, he adjusted his strategy to account for the weakness found at his table and added 20 percent more to his stack late in the day.

As is his tradition, Hellmuth arrived late, and found his stride late, before surging to a 92,850 stack. Immediately after he eliminated Shaun Deeb during Level 4, Hellmuth found another gear.

"I felt really good about the way I played," said Hellmuth. "I started off playing super tight, and then I started getting some momentum and started to three-bet a little lighter and got away with most of those."

Hellmuth has always been great at picking on the less-experienced player and found some good spots at his table at the perfect time.

"I won four of the last five hands. People are tired and they want to make Day 2," said Hellmuth on his late-day strategy. "It's a big deal to make Day 2 to most people. … It's a good time to get active."

If Hellmuth were to cash in the main event, it would be the 100th of his WSOP career. He had three cashes during the preliminary events this Series.

The biggest rail of the day belonged to Daniel Negreanu, who found himself in a constant fight to get back to a starting stack all day. Negreanu faltered early and was down to a couple thousand before rebounding to finish with 15,600. Antonio Esfandiari, Johnny Chan and Eric Baldwin all ended the night below 20,000. Other Day 1C survivors include a number of former world champions (Joseph Hachem, Carlos Mortensen, Jamie Gold, Tom McEvoy and Jerry Yang), former October/November Niners (Rob Salaburu, Ben Lamb, Joseph Cheong, Phil Collins, Jason Senti, Bob Bounahara, John Racener) and bracelet winners from 2013 (Josh Pollack, Matthew Waxman, John Beauprez). Event 59 champion Loni Harwood, Huckleberry Seed, Jonathan Duhamel, David Baker, Sammy Farha, Jeff Madsen, Vanessa Rousso, Tom Schneider and Phil Laak were among the day's eliminations.

On the final hand of the night, Mark Kroon became the chip leader after his river-made flush was enough to deny Ylon Schwartz another main event cash. Kroon is perhaps the original poker star who for many years was better known within the industry simply as "P0ker H0." He has taught at the WSOP Academy, has a wealth of live experience (including a main event cash) and owns a business as well. Kroon never really got the love from the boom I believe he could've and should've, but with a deep run here in the main event, he might finally have that chance.

Here's a look at the unofficial chip leaders after Day 1C:
1. Mark Kroon (246,300)
2. Imari Love (214,300)
3. Michael Mizrachi (176,100)
4. Frederik Brink Jensen (169,975)
5. Kevin Doszak (155,075)
6. Josh Pollock (154,025)
7. Ercan Olgun (147,550)
8. Joseph Cheong (143,375)
9. Ryan Hughes (139,900)
10. Darryl Ronconi (136,125)

Day 2 begins at noon PT Tuesday with the survivors from Day 1A and Day 1B in action. The fields will not be combined, rather each day will act as its own separate event. On Day 3, the entire field will come together for the first time.

Small blinds: During the last hour of play, Joseph Hachem's table ordered multiple rounds of shots. Afterward, they all took pictures with the champ. Now that's a main event experience. ... Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo advanced to Day 2 for the second year in a row. ... Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen have similar stacks around 18,000 and there's a pretty good reason why. Neither player actually came to their tables all day and both were blinded out the entire time. ... Do we call Paul Pierce a specialist now? The NBA star didn't play the main event, just the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event. ... Another athlete who many believed would be in Vegas this year is Michael Phelps. After playing the WSOP's opening weekend, Phelps didn't return to the Rio. ... Daniel Alaei won his bracelet only seven hours before the start of his Day 1C. He was eliminated early on, but before he went out, he said he was completely exhausted. ... The tables that were formerly in the Blue section have been removed while I wrote this blog. Last year there were three tables in this section that were "side features" during our coverage. ... The payout structure of the main event can be found here. ... When action resumes Tuesday, the blinds will be 250/500 with a 50 ante.

The WSOP was more than pleased with the turnout of 6,352 in the main event this year despite it being down slightly from 2012's 6,598. Day 1C became the largest starting flight in main event history at 3,467 players, and satellites ran up to the very last moment to accomplish that feat. While casual observers of the game might look down on the final result, when you think about the lack of any online satellites, the change in value of the euro and the adjustment of demographic as I mentioned earlier, being down just a few percent is probably a win given the state of the industry. WSOP executive director Ty Stewart said he remains determined to figure out new avenues to grow participation in the game over the next year and that the circuit is a place they're going to take a good look at to accomplish their goals.

“The WSOP is honored to be the home of poker for all who love the game,” Stewart said in a news release. “The strength of poker continues to defy the naysayers and with launching in Nevada and New Jersey before we convene again, we plan to harness this momentum for an even bigger event next year.”

Even after six levels of competition, the Day 1C footprint remains huge across the Rio. The 6 p.m. Deepstack event did begin, but tables were being called in one at a time to start off the action, as the space they typically use for this initiative was being used for the main event. Tables have started to break in the Pavilion as Amazon and Brasilia continue as-is.

It was easy to focus on Greg Merson and Doyle Brunson over the past two days, as their presence dominated the discussion around the Amazon Room. Monday is altogether different, as no matter where you look in the different rooms, the star power is strong. Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Michael Mizrachi and Sammy Farha have attracted the rails, as have the many former main event winners. Joseph Hachem, Johnny Chan, Robert Varkonyi, Carlos Mortensen, Jamie Gold, Tom McEvoy, a late-arriving Phil Hellmuth and Jerry Yang are sitting comfortably as they head to the dinner break, but Huckleberry Seed and Jonathan Duhamel couldn't get into a groove and were eliminated during Levels 2 and 3, respectively. Phil Laak, 2013 double-bracelet winner Tom Schneider, both David Bakers, $10,000 pot-limit Omaha champ Daniel Alaei, Tom Marchese and two-time bracelet winner Oleksii Kovalchuk also have been eliminated.

Players are now on their 90-minute dinner break. When they return, they'll have four more hours of play this evening.

Here's a look at the payout structure:

1) $8,359,531
2) $5,173,170
3) $3,727,023
4) $2,791,983
5) $2,106,526
6) $1,600,792
7) $1,225,224
8) $944,593
9) $733,224
10-12) $573,204
13-15) $451,398
16-18) $357,655
19-27) $285,408
28-36) $229,281
37-45) $185,694
46-54) $151,063
55-63) $123,597
64-72) $102,102
73-81) $84,786
82-90) $71,053
91-99) $59,708
100-162) $50,752
163-225) $42,990
226-288) $37,019
289-360) $32,242
361-432) $28,063
433-504) $24,480
505-576) $21,495
577-648) $19,106

Small blinds: After his elimination, the woman sitting next to Duhamel, not the player who knocked him out, asked for a photo. Duhamel obliged. ... All American Dave is a growing trend among pros in the industry. The meals are delivered to players at the table via orders from Twitter or text. ... Daniel Negreanu preaches focus at the table, but in between hands, all bets are off. The WSOP APAC main event champion spent a significant amount of time between hands during the last level chatting it up and taking pictures with fans on the rail. ... Poker Royalty is updating the social networks for its players to keep the fans engaged. It might be standard in other places, but not here. Smart move. ... Nate Silver, predictor of just about everything and avid poker player, is in action today. ... Former main event champions Tom McEvoy and Jamie Gold are sitting together. ... Michael Mizrachi was the first player over 100,000 in chips today. ... Women made up 4.7 percent of the main event field this year. That number is up from 3.2 percent last year. ... The oldest player in the main event is 92-year-old William Wachter. ... FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique entered the main event. ... The total main event prize pool is $59,788,800. ... Howard “Tahoe” Andrew played in his 40th consecutive World Series of Poker this year.
There's a crowd in the Pavilion surrounding a table in the back of the room. Camera phones are out recording, fans are laughing and there's outbursts every few moments with oohs and ahhs. You're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking: that some star, like a Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu or Phil Hellmuth must be seated there and making some kinda of ruckus. OK, maybe not Ivey because he doesn't do much but crush souls at the poker table.

As I inch my way closer through the masses, I see no pros at this table. I don't even see any main event chips on the felt. All I see are players standing around watching as the dealer handles perhaps the quickest $1,000 satellite you could imagine. In a sense, the players are flipping cards for a seat in the main event, and with just a few hours of open registration left, those that are seatless are doing anything and everything they can to get into the big show. As soon as one of these satellites end, another one begins and quickly the WSOP creates a few more entries into the 2013 main event. While the players desperately want to get in, the WSOP wants them in equally as much.

Turnout on Day 1C should eclipse the 3,000-player mark, but all signs point to a shortfall compared to last year's main event. How should we react to the news of a sub-6,598 main event? I'm not entirely sure, but for those that watched the numbers closely during the WSOP, this really is no surprise.

Blaming Black Friday for every failure in the industry seems standard at the moment, and once again, I'll offer that the main event this year is another victim. On a day where the WSOP celebrated Chris Moneymaker with a bronze bust that represented his game-changing accomplishment, the reality is that Moneymaker's method of entry is no longer a reality for casual fans of the game in the United States. There were just a few online satellites in 2013, and the launch failure of's real-money site in Nevada only made that story worse. Beyond the satellites, we also have to look at the overall player base which has decreased since Black Friday.

The "younger" generation of poker players all followed the typical mold of playing online at 18, building large bankrolls and eventually "going pro." But if we glance back at 2011, there were probably some 18- and 19-year-olds who no longer had that ability and needed to leave the game behind. We're finally noticing this year that that crop of players is no longer part of the industry, and as a result, I'm assuming that the average age of WSOP participants has increased. Online poker sites always talk about retention, but we're finally seeing the results of what happened when they lost that younger American demographic.

Oh, and one last point, the U.S. Department of Justice has $300 million of the poker economy still locked up.

Final numbers will be in later and no matter where they end up, seeing a field size and a prize pool of this magnitude is still an accomplishment for the game. While the negativity may prevail, the industry has pushed aside the adversity and, once again, has celebrated our game with a main event like no other.

Small blinds: The TV production team is getting the feature table ready for Day 3, and as a result, there are players on the main stage today. ... The Blue section is once again "champions corner" with Joe Hachem, Jonathan Duhamel, Huckleberry Seed and Carlos Mortensen. ... The Green section in the Pavilion is being utilized for main event action for the first time this event. ... "ODB" David Baker was eliminated during the first level of play on Day 1C. ... Joseph Cheong doubled his starting stack during the first level. He's cashed in this event in each of the past three years. ... Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is playing today. ... Chad Elie, one of those indicted in "Black Friday," showed up for the main event in an orange jumpsuit with a woman in a police uniform. ... Matt Perrins recently won his second bracelet in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold 'em event. He hadn't been able to accept his bracelet until today, as he was arrested for swimming in the lagoon in front of the Mirage.