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Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship Day Two: Bye Bye to Doyle...and 173 Others

Ernie Scherer Leads Field

Action continued Wednesday at the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship. A field that began as a who's who of poker remained strong even with half the field already busted.

There were 213 players who were skilled or lucky enough to make it to day two. Leading the pack was Chau Giang, a regular participant in the Bellagio "Big Game," which boasts the tournament's namesake as a regular participant. Giang started the day with $208,900 in chips, building his stack to nearly $300,000 before being eliminated late in the day in 54th place.

It was a short day for Doyle Brunson. He lasted just half an hour. After surviving a few all-ins early, Brunson was finally eliminated by Don Zewin's pocket jacks. Brunson exited the tournament area to a nice round of applause.

Brunson's exit was just the beginning of a long line of eliminations. A host of big-name pros followed the living legend out the door of the Fontana Lounge. Andy Bloch, Evelyn Ng, "Minneapolis" Jim Meehan, Erick Lindgren, Joe Cassidy, David "Devilfish" Ulliott, David Williams, and Daniel Negreanu all found their way to the rail during the first two levels.

There was a bizarre moment early in the day, when Tournament Director Jack McClelland stopped play in the middle of level six for an announcement. After play concluded Tuesday night, players were treated to a free buffet. Allegedly, a few of the "famous players" were abusive to the buffet staff, and the incident was brought to McClelland's attention. In response McClelland issued the following warning: Any player who was abusive to buffet staff would be assessed at least a 30-minute penalty. "Behave like ladies and gentlemen," McClelland demanded, "or you can go down the street and pay for dinner."

If they had to, paying for dinner would be a bit easier for the players who made it into the top 100. All of them were guaranteed at least $12,000 in prize money. It took nearly six hours to reach that mark. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson did the dirty work, busting the bubble player, Kent Goulding, with a set of sixes. Ferguson played strong poker all day, and will take $359,000 in chips with him to day 3.

Generally, after the bubble bursts, eliminations speed up, as short stacks have the security of guaranteed money, and make moves to try to accumulate chips. Day two was the exception. The post-bubble period was uncharacteristically slow. The goal for the day was to play seven levels, or down to 27 players. Not surprisingly, the seven levels came first. Thirty-nine players will return for day three competition.

Perhaps the slow pace of play was a result of the strength of the field. As the evening waned on, more and more famous faces emerged, many of them with substantial firepower.

Here are the top 10 in chips heading into day three:

1. Ernie Scherer $675,500
2. Gavin Smith $497,500
3. Tony Grand $457,000
4. Mike Gracz $402,500
5. Dan Harrington $375,000
6. Young Phan $362,500
7. Chris Ferguson $359,000
8. Joe Clapper $323,000
9. Khanh Hua $287,000
10. Steve Brecher $276,500

Play will resume on Thursday at noon Pacific Time. Stay tuned to for complete coverage of all the action.