Event #34: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) is the tournament that the players love. It offers everyone an excuse to get off the sidelines and play some poker, and boy did the players play some poker!
419 players contributed to a prize pool of $1,969,300 and by the end of the day that field had sweated itself down to 72 players. The Commander and Chief of the bracelet pursuing pack was David Benyamine who finished the day with 248,300 in chips.
Let's take a look through the milestones of a great day of tournament poker…
The bigger the prize pool, the more familiar the faces get, and today's field was littered with the glitterati of poker. One face that we thought we recognized, but was stuck on top of a new shiny body, was the 2011 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player of the Year (POY) Ben Lamb. Lamb had lost that much weight it was lucky that there was a huge poster of him adorning the walls of the Brasilia Room to help us recognise him. Lamb started well - doubling up in the first few hands - and after a lull really started to motor, unfortunately he ran into a man on form. Joseph Cheong did most of the damage before David Colin came in for the kill. Lamb promised plenty but eventually died out in the last level of play.
Ben Lamb is a WSOP bracelet holder, and there were two more bracelet holders sharing a table right from the get-go. Erik Cajelais and Leif Force doing battle in the Gold Section of the Brasilia Room, and it was Force with the upper hand. Then along came Jack Melki and he decided that the table was not big enough for the three of them. In the blink of eye, both bracelet holders were out and Melki had 70,000 chips and the chip lead. Not bad for a players who had never cashed outside of his native France - and the blinds were only 100/200!
Early notable bust outs included our reigning champion Jason Mercier, John Racener, Vanessa Selbst, Jonathan Duhamel and Phil Galfond. At the right end of the chip counts Davidi Kitai, Luke Schwartz and Don Nguyen. They were all beating on the Jack Melki door but the Frenchman seemed to be built of stern stuff.
Phil Ivey had pre-registered for this event, but had to skip it while he continued his assault on Event #32: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. He made the final table, lying 3rd in chips, and waltzed into the Brasilia Room during his break. By that time his chip stack had reduced to 8,700 chips and he played one hand, doubled up and then headed back to his seat in the glare of the Amazon Room Final Table…just a typical day in the life of Phil Ivey!
As the tables broke for the scheduled ninety-minute dinner break there were two people who just didn't want to stop playing. Kevin Boudreau and Don Nguyen had somehow managed to put their tournament lives on the line - and create a 110,000 pot - holding just a pair of nines and ace-high respectively. Boudreau held , Nguyen held and the board ran out and Nguyen joined became one of the chip leaders holding just ace-high!
After the break it all started to go very wrong for Jack Melki. Like a snowman in the Las Vegas heat, he just melted away. He was battered by Naoya Kihara and Shaun Deeb, and in the end a very tired Melki departed a long way off the money; Naoyo Kihara the vanquisher. Kevin MacPhee, David Burn, Ben Lamb & Tommy Le all moving silently towards the better end of the counts.
Todd Boghosian eliminated the dangerous Viktor Blom, Rory Matthews finished off Sam Stein and Phil Ivey's stack eventually ended up in someone else's stack. During another break from the H.O.R.S.E tournament, Ivey returned to find only to run them into the of Bruno Fitoussi. An on the flop sending Ivey out of the competition he was never really involved with in the first place.
As we moved into the twilight of Day 1 multiple WSOP bracelet winners Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier left the competition, as did our current World Series of Poker Player of the Year leader Andy Frankenberger. At the top of the counts a great battle started to emerge between Karim Jomeen, Shaun Deeb, David Benyamine, Scott Bohlman, Kevin MacPhee and Naoya Kihara for the number one spot, but in truth there were around fifteen-players all in with a shout of that coveted chip leader position.
After the final few hands were done and dusted, the player who emerged with the lead was David Benyamine who must have had a growth spurt in the final level to accrue 248,300 chips. He will return with 71 other hopefuls at 13:00 PM where we will commence Day 2 of this fabulous event. Please make sure you join us at PokerNews for all of the action.