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WSOP Main Event: The big one kicks off


Brad Willis reports at the start of the main event...

As far as we know, it is not written in any poker bible that every tournament Day 1 must be a blistering marathon that leaves the players a blubbering mess at the end. That understood, never before at the World Series have we left a Day 1 and thought, "Well, that went fast." Until today.

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For an as-yet unexplained reason, the WSOP tournament staff decided to cut a level out of all four Day 1 flights. That meant all 1,116 players came in, played two levels, went to an early dinner, and came back for two more levels. Easy-bodeezy.

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Peter Kaemmerlen. a Pokerstars player, stretches for the sprint

As always the Amazon Room was a sea of PokerStars players and Team Pros. Most survived the afternoon and evening. Though a shortened day, there were casualties to report. St. Louis rapper Nelly and former major league pitcher Orel Hershiser drew the cameras and railbirds like flies, but couldn't manage to attract any chips. They were both eliminated shortly after the dinner break. German stars Jan Heitmann and George Danzer hit the rail early, too.

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The survivors came through the day in greater number, with some of PokerStars most prolific and successful tourney players still in the mix going to Day 2. Steve Paul-Ambrose (6,900), Lex Veldhuis (75,000), Raymond Rahme (57,000), Katja Thater (37,500), Jason Mercier (38,000), John Duthie (25,000), Johannes Strassmann (20,000), Juan Manuel Pastor (48,000), Sandra Naujoks (16,500) all made it through.

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If there is a take away story of the day though, it is this: This very well could be the Summer of George. Friend of PokerStars Jason Alexander went on a massive tear in the last level of the night to move his chip stack to the 75,000.

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Day 1 begins again with the B flight Saturday at noon. No word yet on the number of runners, but due to the holiday, we expect another light day before the two big flights on Sunday and Monday.

See you then.

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