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WSOP Day 1: European Player Roundup

Inaugural World Series of Poker Event Attracts European High-Rollers

Amid much anticipation, the 2007 World Series of Poker kicked off at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas yesterday and a clutch of big-hitting Europeans sat down among the 451 players in the first-ever $5,000 mixed hold'em event.

Among the Euro contingent in search of the first of 55 bracelets were Andy Black, Roland De Wolfe, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Max Pescatori, Thomas Wahlroos, Thor Hansen, Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, David Benyamine, and Conor Tate.

By the end of day one, 95 players remained and the European charge had faltered, perhaps as a result of the limit hold'em element, which is not generally considered a strong European discipline.

Players received a $10,000 starting stack and, just past noon, last year's main event winner Jamie Gold uttered the legendary "shuffle up and deal" command to get the event started with a level of no-limit hold'em.

Gus Hansen and Benyamine took their seats late, the Devilfish gave Phil Hellmuth (also a late ariver) a massage, and Black scored a table that contained Greg Raymer and Joe Sebok.

It wasn't long before controversy raised its head with much grumbling about the playing cards. Players complained the newly designed ",Poker Peek" cards were difficult to read and after a number of reported mis-reads Harrah's acted quickly and reverted back to more conventional stock.

Devilfish mixed it up in the first two levels, tangling with both Chad Layne and Mike Teltscher. He came a cropper both times and started level three with just over half his starting stack. Benyamine had rocked his stack up to over $15,000 early in level three.

By level five, Devilfish, Wahlroos, and Gus Hansen were seated together, along with impressive Canadian youngster Sorel Mizzi. But Hansen's continued participation was short-lived and he busted out along with fellow Scandinavian Patrik Antonius.

Conor Tate had a much more satisfactory level, trumping a set with a higher set to reach the heady heights of $30,000 in chips.

Level eight saw Mike "The Mouth" Matusow crack Devilfish's aces but by level 11 both players were gone, Devilfish getting unlucky when he got his chips in with tens only to see his opponent catch a queen and jack for two pair.

Towards the end of play, the final tranche of Euro heroes were vanquished with Northern Irishman Conor Tate, Italian Max Pescatori, and Thomas Wahlroos from Finland failing to get over the last hurdle.

Elsewhere, struggles ensued with Roland De Wolfe, Thor Hansen, and David Benyamine still alive but only just kicking, sitting on $7,000, $5,000 and $3,700 in chips, respectively. However, the short stack situation proved too much and all were gone when the smoke cleared.

With players playing down to a final table of nine today, the less-than-average-stacked Europeans will have to up their game considerably to recover from a commanding US performance.

Today will also see the start of the $1,500 no-limit hold'em, which is likely to include Padraig Parkinson as well as many of the European casualties from yesterday's event. With a registration queue snaking through the Rio for most of the day - numbering 1,000 strong at one point - it's sure to be huge.

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