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WSOP: $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Day 1

Winner will Receive the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy

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For the third time in history the best poker players on the face of the planet came together to start day 1 action in the unofficial player’s championship. The $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. world championship, the most professionally-stacked tournament of the year, drew 148 players at the 2008 World Series of Poker.

The levels were increased to 90 minutes for this marquee event, and every eight hands the game that was played changed. Here are the five games included in the rotation:

H - Hold'em (Limit)
O - Omaha Eight-or-Better
R - Razz
S – Seven-Card Stud
E – Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better

Phil HellmuthFans flocked to the rails to sweat their favorite familiar faces, and starting stacks of 100,000 ensured that not too many players were going to leave the field just yet. There were a few exceptions though, as eight players hit the rail on day 1. Those players included Jamie Pickering, Aaron Katz, David Williams, Bari Sklar, Amnon Filippi, Philippe Rouas, Shunjiro Uchida, and Phil Hellmuth.

The item that everyone’s ears perked up a little to hear was the announcement of the prize pool late in the evening. The payout structure was flattened a little bit to include places 15 and 16, so everyone at the final two tables will walk away with something. This adjustment made for a smaller first-place prize than last year. The top award this year will be $1,989,120, but you can rest assured that the money will be secondary to whichever player wins the title of H.O.R.S.E. world champion.

As is always the case during the most interesting event of the summer, a multitude of tough tables littered the tournament floor. While there were many contenders for best table in the field, one stood among all of the others as one of the best tournament tables of the year:

Table 13 (The unlucky number for an unlucky table draw):

Seat 1: Ralph Perry
Seat 2: John Hennigan
Seat 3: Dewey Tomko (later switched for Robert Williamson III after a seat-card error was discovered)
Seat 4: Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond
Seat 5: Daniel Negreanu
Seat 6: Phil Ivey
Seat 7: Perry Friedman
Seat 8: Tom “Durrrr” Dwan

The table was a microcosm of the poker world, providing players from the old guard, the young guns online, two of the games most recognizable faces, and at least for a little while, one Texas road gambler. All of these players survived the day, and they are probably among the most relieved to take new seats tomorrow after the seat redraw that took place at the end of play.

While no major pot defined the day with the blinds and antes, or limits, bring-ins, or completions all still very low in comparison to the average chip stack, players did manage to take divergent paths during the first day of play. While some stars watched their stacks double and triple, others watched theirs dwindle. At the end of play, a few of the players who ended the day with less than they started with included David Levi (31,100), Andrew Black (24,300), Toto Leonidas (22,100), David Singer (17,900), and Chris Bjorin (8,600). The most surprising person on this list was Singer, who has made the final table of the H.O.R.S.E. world championship both prior years, and who now has his third consecutive final-table appearance in major jeopardy.

Chip Reese Freddy Deeb was present in the field today to defend his title, as was last year’s runner up, Bruno Fituossi. It was actually Fitoussi who busted Hellmuth with kings up over Hellmuth’s nines up during the final seven-card stud eight-or-better round for the night. One defending champion who was not in the field was the late Chip Reese. Today was another unfortunate reminder of the poker world’s greatest loss this past year, but Chip’s legacy will live on now through the H.O.R.S.E. event, as each and every winner will be awarded the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.

Here is a look at the day 1 chip leaders:

Chris Reslock: 225,000
James Mackey: 214,000
Pat Pezzin: 200,400
Joe Cassidy: 198,700
Ralph Perry: 195,300
Stephen Wolff: 192,700
Fu Wong: 188,100
Douglas Ganger: 183,200
Bill Chen: 182,500
Tad Jurgens: 172,700

Day 2 will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, when another six levels of exciting H.O.R.S.E. action will transpire.