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Day 1A at the WPT Doyle Brunson Classic

David Pham Falls on Day 1A and Leaves the Door Open for J.C. Tran and Jonathan Little in the POY Race

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Action began today at the $15,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Classic, which is the championship event of the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Jack McClelland stepped onto the tournament floor, and, as is the usual custom, he announced the tournament rules. He then made this announcement before the entire room observed a moment of silence in the memory of Chip Reese:

"This week we lost one of our great poker players, Chip Reese. In honor of Chip, I'd like to have a moment of silence, if everyone would be quiet for a moment." Thirty seconds of silence enveloped the room, and then Jack said, "Chip, we'll miss you." He paused quickly once more and continued, "OK, everybody, good luck. Fifty and one-hundred blind -- shuffle up and deal." Soon after that, the familiar sounds of table talk and chips endlessly riffling crept back into the air. Day 1A had drawn 277 players, and many of them were the top players in the game. Many of the top players also started their day at table 48:

Seat 2: Johnny Chan
Seat 4: Kyle "kwob20" Bowker
Seat 5: Dan Harrington
Seat 6: Raymond Davis
Seat 7: Doug Lee
Seat 8: Tuan Le
Seat 9: Peter "Apathy" Jetten

Tuan LeTuan Le doubled up very early in the day when his pocket aces defeated the pocket queens of one of the few unknown opponents at his table. Tuan got involved in the lion's share of the action at this table, but his luck caught up with him, and he was eliminated before the fourth level of the day began. The talent at the table was quickly reloaded, though, when Jonathan Little and Chris Bjorin arrived on the scene. Once Little sat down, Raymond Davis sarcastically said, "This table just keeps getting easier." To prove his point, he pulled out the current issue of Card Player Magazine with Little on the cover. "They bring me the guy who's on the cover of Card Player! And this guy (indicating Dan Harrington) was just on a cover, and Johnny Chan has been on 20!"

Davis was no stranger to the action at the table, and he got into the thick of things repeatedly. After an ace-high flop with two hearts, Davis turned a flush with K Q in the hole against his opponent's A 9. All the money went in on the river, and Davis's flush was strong enough to bust his opponent, moving Davis well over 65,000 in chips. On the very next hand, Davis tangled with Bjorin on a board of J-J-8-3-10. Davis called a bet on the river, only to learn that his pocket aces were crushed by Bjorin's set of eights. The loss dropped Davis back down to about 59,000, while Bjorin rose up to about 33,000.Erik Seidel

As the day wore on, a second featured table developed, at lucky table No. 7:

Seat 1: Alan Goehring
Seat 2: Lamar Wilkinson
Seat 3: Ralph Perry
Seat 4: Daniel Alaei
Seat 5: David Levi
Seat 6: Erik Seidel
Seat 7: Chad Brown
Seat 8: Peter Feldman
Seat 9: Joe Tehan

Seidel played well throughout the day at this table, and he was one of the first players in the field to pass the 100,000-chip mark on day 1A. Seidel looked at ease in these treacherous waters and he ended the day with 108,475.

As stacked tables continued to fight throughout the day, all eyes turned to the Card Player Player of the Year race implications that always coincide with this tournament, the last major tournament of the year. David "The Dragon" Pham leads the race with 6,562, while J.C. Tran (5,748), Little (5,272), Scott Clements (5,138), and Bill Edler (4,777) still had a chance to overtake him at the start of the day. Clements is already out of contention because he will not be playing in the championship event. In a sign of true commitment to his wife, Clements has decided not to play in order to spend time with her during her birthday. Tran is expected to play tomorrow, and he now has a chance to win the title after winning a $5,000 preliminary event here at Bellagio this week to jump into second place. Pham, Edler, and Little were all in contention today.

Edler was the first of these three to be eliminated and to end his run at the POY title. He finished the year with seven final tables and $2,757,042 in tournament winnings. This gave Edler 4,777 POY points, which puts him in fifth place. It was a great year for Edler, which included his first WPT win and his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet. The leader of the POY-pack followed Edler to the rail when Pham was eliminated later in the day. Pham's impressive year saw him make 11 final tables and cash for $1,814,087. Pham made two WPT final tables, one WSOP final table, and he also won the head's-up championship event at the Mirage Poker Showdown. Pham accumulated an impressive 6,562 POY points and still sits in first place. The ball is now in the court's of Tran and Little (who finished the day with 61,675), both of whom can still overtake Pham with a second-place finish or a win here at Bellagio.

The rising blinds and antes did their due diligence and helped to knock players out of the field. A number of notable eliminations occurred elsewhere. Paul Wasicka, Sorel Mizzi, Justin Bonomo, Kevin Saul, J.J. Liu, Doug Lee, Shane Schleger, Joe Tehan, David Singer, John Juanda, David Williams, Shawn Sheikhan, Lee Watkinson, and David Chiu all ended their tournament before the end of day 1A.

As the day winded down, one player rose above all of the rest to end the day as the king of the mountain. John Hennigan grew his stack to 100,000 and never looked back. He ended the day with 188,700, the most of any player on day 1A. Here is a look at the top 10:John Hennigan

John Hennigan: 188,700
John Gale: 126,100
Hoyt Corkins: 114,000
Erik Seidel: 108,475
Ralph Perry: 102,000
Greg Mueller: 98,625
Amir Vahedi: 89,625
Scott Seiver: 85,850
Anthony Newman: 84,450
Kyle Bowker: 82,250

When the dust settled, 190 players remained, and the stage was set for day 1B, which will begin tomorrow at noon. The rest of the field will begin play, and J.C. Tran will start his quest to win the POY title. Check back in at CardPlayer.com tomorrow to follow all of the action with live updates, chip counts, photos, and videos.