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Capacity Day 1D field forces WSOP to turn away players

7 July 2009

LAS VEGAS -- When a sporting event "sells out," it generally means that there are no more tickets available for spectators to buy. In poker, however, that's not quite the case.

When a poker tournament sells out, it means there are no more seats in the tournament field for players to buy into.

And on Monday, that's exactly what happened at the Main Event.

The World Series of Poker squeezed in 2,809 players into a jam packed Rio before closing registration to Day 1D of the Main Event and declaring it a sell out well before the start of play.

But the decision to cap the field forced WSOP officials to turn away hundreds of players who wanted to play in poker's biggest event.

Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa Rousso registered in time to play in Day 1D of the World Series of Poker Main Event.(Photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

The three previous Day 1 fields were significantly smaller, and players could have chosen to play then. Day 1A had a field of 1,116. Day 1B saw 873 players. And Day 1C had 1,696 entrants.

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack met with some of the players who had been turned away in an open meeting Monday afternoon and apologized to them.

"We are sorry and I'm sorry," Pollack told the players. Pollack went on to say making sure that they don't turn away players will be his top priority for next year, but logistical concerns make it impossible to accommodate more players this year.

The logistical concerns that Pollack referred to were fairly obvious after spending some time wandering the Rio. The Amazon Room was at full capacity with no cash games running. The Brasilia and Miranda rooms were also filled to capacity. And slot machines had been removed from the casino floor near the restaurant Buzios and replaced with poker tables. There simply wasn't enough space or staff to handle more players today without severely impacting the rest of the Main Event schedule.

But the WSOP still has some tough decisions to make. When Day 1D closed, 1,816 players had survived. That means the Day 2B field -- which combines the survivors from Days 1C and 1D -- will be 2,922, well above "capacity" at the Rio. WSOP officials have indicated they'll talk more about the logistical concerns they've faced this year at a Thursday press conference.

Thanks to Monday's sell out, the 2009 Main Event had 6,494 entrants. The tournament will pay out 648 places, with the first first-place finisher winning $8,546,435. The player that finishes in 648th will take home $21,365. Players that make the final table will make at least $1,263,602. The player that finishes in tenth will earn $896,730.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey's poker face was in prime form Monday.(Photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

The 2008 Main Event had 6,844 players and paid out $9,152,416 to Main Event champion Peter Eastgate.

While the logistics of the tournament were being sorted out, the Day 1D field focused on the action at the tables.

And the tables broke down into two distinctly different types -- chatty and not chatty.

Vanessa Rousso' table -- chatty, with Rousso leading the way. The PokerStars pro was doing well early at the felt and clearly enjoying the company of what appeared to be a very friendly table. Among the topics discussed by Rousso were: Poker After Dark (yes, it is real money), Jen Tilly (played with here once) and a photo shoot she liked.

There was also this tweet from Rousso. "Interesting facts about my table: 3 women, 3 Gary's, 3 Pokerstars players, 2 Lisa's, 2 'v' names...and no one I've ever played with."

After a late tumble, Rousso finished the day 6,350 in chips.

Phil Ivey's table -- not chatty. In fact it seemed like the players at the table were scared to make a sound in the presence of Ivey. I stopped by to check out the action several times and no one said a word. Meanwhile, the table next to Ivey was laughing and talking the entire way through the tournament.

Victor Ramdin

Victor Ramdin lined up a few prop bets while playing at his table in the Amazon Room.(Photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Ivey finished the day with 84,025 in chips.

Victor Ramdin's table -- chatty. This table genuinely seemed to enjoy playing together, with players occasionally taking friendly jabs at each other as play went on. Ramdin, as usual, kept the table chatter lively and fun. First, he regaled the table about a hand in which he tried to bluff against a guy holding quads during a high-stakes game.

"I was ready to fire three bullets at him," Ramdin said. "But then he raised me on the turn and I was able to get away from my hand. Can you believe he raised me with quads?! I would have lost a lot of money on that hand."

Ramdin then told Casino City about a prop bet he'd made with the player sitting next to him. "He had 56,000 (in chips) and I had 12,000. I bet him $2,300 that I would do better in this tournament than he would. I'm at 40K right now."

Ramdin was then offered a prop bet on whether he'd finish better than a fellow tablemate today, who had more chips at the moment. Ramdin said he wouldn't take that bet.

"I want to make Day 2 so I'm locking it up today," Ramdin said with a smile. "I'm only playing pocket aces and kings the rest of the way." Everyone at the table laughed. But I doubt anyone believed the likable Ramdin.

Ramdin finished his day with 8,500 in chips.

The top performer on Day 1D was Troy Eber, who picked up 353,000 in chips to become the tournament's chip leader. Other players who did well Monday include J.C. Tran (139,975), Josh Arieh (135,700) and Bertrand Grospellier (124,475).

Among the notable players eliminated on Day 1D were Ivan Demidov, Grant Hinkle, Yuvahl Bronshtein, Jeff Madsen, Phil Galfond, Torrie Wilson, John Salley and Dario Minieri.

Capacity Day 1D field forces WSOP to turn away players is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.