LAS VEGAS -- The field on Day 1A is down two world champions. 2005 WSOP main event champion Joseph Hachem was eliminated shortly before the dinner break. After a raise and a call ahead of him, Hachem moved all-in from the button. The initial raiser called with 4-4 and Hachem was in a race holding J-9. The flop came K-Q-K giving Hachem even more outs, but a turn 7 and river 6 sent Hachem to the rail. Hachem and 1993 champion Jim Bechtel were two of many players eliminated during Level 3. The field has become more active and "all-in and a call" is becoming a more familiar statement around the tournament area. Pius Heinz hasn't chipped up since his struggles during the last level and will head to the 90-minute dinner break with a below-average stack.
Another world champion joined today's field a little late. To nobody's surprise, Phil Hellmuth arrived during Level 3 and took his seat in the Purple section of the Amazon Room. To everyone's surprise, Hellmuth didn't come in flocked by 12 women, representing his dozen WSOP bracelets, dressed up in some costume. Hellmuth, just days removed from winning $2.6 million for his fourth-place finish in One Drop, started the tournament off on a downswing and ended the level with 25,000 in chips.
With Day 1A registration closed, the WSOP announced the official numbers for the first starting day. A total of 1,066 players started their WSOP main event efforts on Saturday and while the WSOP boasted on Twitter that it's an increase of 19 percent from 2011, there is also one less starting day this year. Before you get concerned that the main event is only going to have a couple thousand players, the final starting days are always busier and with the maximum capacity of 4,830 players per day, anyone who wants to play can show up over the next two days with their $10,000.
The other reason why the number will continue to grow is the fact that the satellite area at the Rio has been extremely busy all day. There are a number of mega-satellites in progress and with only the 1 p.m. $1,060 event awarding 91 seats to the main on its own, registration will continue to creep upward. I'm still thinking 6,150 players is attainable.
Six hours in, we're at the point in the tournament where big stacks have emerged. At this point, David Randall, better known as "malicous222" or "ghettofabolous" online, is leading the field with 134,000 in chips. Randall has more than $3 million in online earnings and has four cashes so far this Series. Faraz Jaka also had a great level, building his stack to six figures. The bad news for Jaka is that his table in the Pavilion is breaking soon. Other the other hand, Greg Mueller, Kathy Liebert and David Williams have struggled and remain among the shortest stacks in the field.
Action will resume at 10:20 p.m. ET. with the blinds at 200/400 and a 25 ante.
Small blinds: How does Frank Kassela kill time during Day 1A? By watching "Breaking Bad". Kassela is seated next to Karina Jett and both of them are holding above average stacks entering the dinner break. Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo doubled up during the last level and has nearly 60,000 in chips. Soi Nguyen and Billy Gazes were eliminated during Level 3. Kennii Nguyen is dressed up for the event - as a jester. For the first time today, a player in the Purple section was extremely excited to win a pot, praising his short-stack ability. If his outburst happened last year, he would've been given a penalty. This year, the players around him smiled. There's a different feeling this year and it looks like the players are having a little bit more fun at the start. The bubble in the National Championship has lasted nearly three hours. The tournament has been under hand-for-hand play throughout that time and that may lead to a quick final table on Tuesday. The National Championship will be broadcast on ESPN in August. Players seated near televisions were more interested in watching the replay of the Big One for One Drop on ESPN than focusing on their opposition. Kevin Pollak and Ray Romano shared a few words during the past level. Both look extremely comfortable at the felt today. Congrats to former November Niner Filippo Candio, who recently got married. The Italian is hidden in the back of the Tan section and said he hasn't been playing too much poker lately.