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Best of Vin Narayanan

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Hellmuth, Negreanu headline large Day 1C WSOP Main Event field

10 July 2011

LAS VEGAS - Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu began their quests for World Series of Poker Main Event glory Saturday as 2,181 players turned out for Day 1C of the $10,000 event.

Saturday's large field gives the Main Event 4,056 players with one Day 1 remaining. The tournament's final Day 1 -- set for Sunday -- is usually the largest flight of the No-Limit Hold'em event. Day 1A saw a field of 897 players and Day 2A had 978. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Vanessa Rousso and Nate Silver are among the notable players expected to play Sunday.

Hellmuth and Negreanu provided an interesting contrast in styles on Day 1C.

Online poker was a big topic of discussion at Daniel Negreanu

Online poker was a big topic of discussion at Daniel Negreanu's table. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Negreanu showed up on time (the tournament began at noon) and made his way to the Pavilion Room in the Rio, where he found a full stack of 30,000 chips waiting for him. He sat down ready to play, sporting a Pokerstars.net patch, a PokerStars Pro patch (Team Canada) and nary a TV camera in sight.

The prime topic of conversation at Negreanu's table was online poker, with players at the table telling Negreanu stories about friends with money tied up in Full Tilt Poker.

Unlike PokerStars, Full Tilt has not been able to refund players their money in the wake of April's "Black Friday" indictments.

Full Tilt, which recently saw its Alderney and French licenses suspended, has been seeking investors for a cash infusion or buyout so players can be repaid. But count Negreanu among those who have been unimpressed by the poker room’s efforts.

"I know they could have had a deal weeks ago," Negreanu said. "But a few of them -- I won't say which ones -- have been greedy and holding out for a better deal. But while they're holding out, what happens to the players?"

"It's not good for the industry," added Negreanu.

Negreanu struggled to gain traction until late in the night. He ended level 4 with 46,375 and ended the day with 41,175 (five levels were played).

Hellmuth made a more subdued entrance this year.

Hellmuth made a more subdued entrance this year. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Hellmuth, on the other hand, made his customary late entrance to the Main Event a little after 5 p.m. -- more than five hours after cards hit the air.

This year's entrance as an ESPN analyst -- complete with a dapper sports coat and Versace shirt -- was a low-key affair in comparison to previous Main Event arrivals.

In previous years, Hellmuth entered in a variety of different costumes including a NASCAR racer, Gen. George Patton and Julius Caesar. And he always entered with an entourage of women -- usually one for each bracelet he'd won -- dressed in skimpy costumes matching his theme.

But this year he just walked down the hallway with no entourage, "analyzing" his performance at this year's Series.

"I finished second three times this summer," Hellmuth told the camera as he walked down the hallway of the Rio toward the Amazon Room. When he reached the Amazon Room, he headed straight for a secondary TV table, where he did a few more takes for the ESPN cameras before sitting down to play poker.

Because he arrived five hours late, Hellmuth had been blinded off and had only 25,000 chips instead of the usual 30,000 chips players start the tournament with.

Near the end of the fourth level, Hellmuth slipped down to 8,000 in chips when he flopped a flush, only to see Rick Rahim hit a full house on the river.

Hellmuth ended the day with 11,800.

While Hellmuth and Negreanu were the big stars of the day, they didn't have the spotlight to themselves. A pair of comedians and an NBA player drew large rails.

Ray Romano and Brad Garrett helped kick off Day 1C with a little comedy. They joined Annie Duke and the winners of a Cupcake Wars episode on the main stage to help kick off play, and quickly stole the show.

"I made the pecan pie," Garrett said, trying to get in on the dessert action.

"Cupcake is my favorite stripper at the Crazy Horse," Romano added.

Then the two poked fun at themselves for trying to play with the pros in poker.

"Ray and I are still in," Garrett said.

"I just rebought," joked Romano.

After the cupcake winner yelled "Shuffle up and deal," Romano landed the last joke.

"All in, Table 5," Romano said as the Amazon Room laughed.

Ray Romano was funny. But he busted out of the tournament early.

Ray Romano was funny. But he busted out of the tournament early. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

When the two comedians hit the felt, they were much more serious.

After an hour of play, Romano cracked what appeared to be his first joke (I arrived just as the joke was ending) and the players at the table were giddy.

"Finally, that's the funny Ray we've been waiting for."

Romano then asked another player eating some Chinese food at the table where he'd picked it up.

When told it was available at the Poker Kitchen -- and that pizza, quesadillas, salads and smoothies were also available there -- Romano asked if they would deliver.

"Not for us, but they might for you," said a couple of players.

"Oh, that's no good," said Romano. And then it was back to poker.

Romano never managed to get his game on track, though, and busted out before the dinner break.

The atmosphere around Garrett's table was similar to Romano's. When the TV cameras were around, Garrett hammed it up. But when the cameras turned away, Garrett stayed pretty quiet. He was here to play some poker. And he fared well Saturday, ending the night with around 68,000 in chips. Right now, it's a race to see who will last longer, Garrett or Jason Alexander, who ended Day 1A with 63,150.

(In a sense, comedians have a tough job at the Main Event. They want to play the game and take it seriously, both as players and out of respect to the people who play this game for a living. But the players at the table want them to be funny.)

Luckily for Boston Celtic star Paul Pierce, he didn't have to deal with the burden of being funny. Wearing his championship ring and some ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way) green shoes, Pierce proved he could play some poker. He chipped up early and ended the day with 63,750.

Nearly 1,400 players survived Day 1C play. Those players will combine with the Day 1A survivors to form Monday's Day 2A field. Kevin Song chipped up the most on Day 1C. He ended the day with 163,325.

Other notable players who survived Day 1C: Shannon Shorr, Adam Junglen, Pratyush Buddiga, Ted Forrest, Sorel Mizzi, Marcel Luske, Shaun Deeb, Dan Harrington, Andy Bloch, Phil Gordon, Erik Seidel, Jason Mericer, defending champ Jonathan Duhamel and Dennis Phillips.

Other notable players eliminated on Day 1C: Robert Mizrachi, Karina Jett, Nenad Medic, David Benyamine, Chad Brown, Shane Warne, James Akenhead, Chris Moneymaker, Liz Lieu, Steve Billirakis and Jason Young.
Hellmuth, Negreanu headline large Day 1C WSOP Main Event field 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.