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Day 2B - The 2006 WSOP Main Event

The Field for $12 Million Narrows; Joseph Hachem Continues Title Defense

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The 2006 World Series of Poker came one step closer to crowning the $12 million man/woman when 1,736 players arrived for Day 2B action. With the rumors answered, every pro, satellite winner, and Internet rounder entered play knowing exactly what, or better yet how much, was on the line.

When the first cards hit the air at noon PDT with $250-$500 blinds and $50 antes, several players had already devised plans to keep the very large first place prize from being a distraction.

Amateur Joe Macek reemployed a strategy he used during day one - watching Rocky IV on a portable DVD player. "You gotta keep your mind off the fact that you're playing for 12 million bones," Macek said during a break.

While players tried to forget the stakes, no one in the Amazon Room could ignore the number of early eliminations. So many players dropped that within the first hour-and-a-half the tournament lost 30 thirty tables.

Huck Seed proved to be one of the big name pros eliminated during the first level. The 1996 WSOP champion fell despite being a huge favorite after moving all in. Holding pocket sevens, Seed exited play after his opponent's pocket sixes made a set on the Jheart 6club 3club flop.

Two more former titleholders soon followed Seed. 2002 winner Robert Varkonyi busted when his K-Q failed to improve against an opponent's pocket treys, while 2004 champ Greg Raymer's tournament run ended courtesy of Marcello Del Grosso's pocket aces. Raymer received a large round of applause from fans and fellow players on his way out of the Amazon Room.

Raymer's bustout may have drawn more attention, but Hung Tran's exit might have been bigger news. The overall chip leader after the Day 1 flights, Tran came in to action with $177,475. A missed flush draw crippled Tran, and the one-time chip boss hit the rails soon after.

Other notables who failed to survive early action included Robert Mizrachi, Joe Cassidy, Haralabos Voulgaris, and Adam Schoenfeld.

While the majority of pros fell, one the biggest names in the sport shone on one of the biggest stages. Daniel Negreanu spent his entire day being filmed on the ESPN featured table set, and "Kid Poker" flourished under the bright lights.

Negreanu's $85,500 put him near the middle of the leaderboard entering action. After a slight drop, the momentum shifted for Negreanu when he pushed all in on a 9club 8club 4club flop. Srinivsa Yarlagadda made the made the call with the Qdiamond Qclub and Negreanu showed Aclub Kdiamond. The 7club turn generated huge cheers from fans as Negreanu hit his flush, won the pot and bumped his stack up to $200,000.

The hot streak continued for Negreanu during the last level of play. He took down another opponent at his table with a full house, and he ended the day in the top five chip counts with roughly $331,000.

Joseph Hachem and Dmitri Nobles appeared to be the only two players capable of sharing any of the spotlight with Negreanu.

Despite a slow start, the reigning champ stayed out of the red at a table that he described as "tough."

"The day's been going very ugly," Hachem said late in action, "until the last session, when I was able to get some momentum."

Hachem came back from as little as $60,000, building his stack up to $142,200 during the final levels of play. While he was not at the featured table, ESPN still kept a camera on Hachem for the majority of the day and captured him surviving the second leg of his title defense.

So why did Dmitri Nobles command the same level of attention as two of the most famous poker players in the world? Simple - he dragged a massive amount of chips.

Not in the top five coming into play, Nobles remained under the radar until he amassed over $250,000. An all-in win with top pair put Nobles at $523,000.

He then built a huge chip lead when his pocket 10s made a runner-runner straight with the Jspade 7club 2diamond 9heart 8heart board, cracking an opponent's Aspade Jheart. The pot gave Nobles over $600,000 in chips.

At 11:53 p.m. PDT, assistant tournament director Jack Effel informed the 620 players that they had all moved on to Day 3 of the 2006 main event.

Some of the notables who advanced included Ted Forrest, John Gale, Devin "TranquilChaos" Porter, Cyndy Violette, Darrell "Gigabet" Dicken, Josh Arieh, and Kassem "Freddy" Deeb.

A few of the pros who failed to survive action were Chris "The Armenian Express" Grigorian, J.C. Tran, Eric Mizrachi, Alan Goehring, Robert Williamson III, Mark Gregorich, Steve Zolotow, Bobby Baldwin, and 2005 fourth-place finisher Aaron Kanter.

Final Day 2B chip counts can be found via the "Featured Chip Count" link on the CardPlayer.com home page.

The road to the final table continues Friday, August 4 at noon PDT when the remaining players from 2A and 2B return to the Amazon Room for Day 3.

Stay tuned to CardPlayer.com for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, and for a new episode of "The Circuit."

For more information on bracelet winners and other WSOP news stories please visit http://www.cardplayer.com/tournaments/wsop/2006s.


Quote of the Day: "It's unbelievable, it's scary. I have no idea how many players are left. I just don't know" - Gentleman John Gale on the 2006 WSOP main event