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Erik Sagstrom Leads and Durrrr Busts at Players Championship

The WSOP Kicks off with a Mixed Games Championship Featuring the Biggest Stars in Poker


Chip ReeseAll of the big names in poker were present at the start of the $50,000 Players Championship at the 41st World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, the list of big names would run almost the entire length of the registration sheet for the tournament. At the start of the tournament just one name mattered though, the late Chip Reese (pictured left).

Before cards got into the air shortly after 5 p.m. today, Brunson said a few words to honor his friend Reese, and then a short tribute video was played. Brunson then announced, “Shuffle Up and Deal,” and the battle for the most coveted title among poker professionals had begun. Each of the former champions that won the title following the inaugural victory of Reese in 2006 were playing in the event today, including Freddy Deeb, Scotty Nguyen, and last year’s champion David Bach.

This is the first year that the $50,000 Players Championship did not feature a H.O.R.S.E. format. In addition to the five H.O.R.S.E. games, no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and deuce-to-seven triple draw lowball were added to spice things up and entice more players to pony up the huge buy-in. After the final $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. world championship attracted 95 players last year, the size of this year’s $50,000 event grew slightly to 116 players.

The top prize up for grabs is $1,559,043 and the top 16 players will all walk away with at least $98,331. Here is a look at the payout structure for the event:

1: $1,559,043
2: $963,375
3: $603,348
4: $436,865
5: $341,430
6: $272,275
7: $221,105
8: $182,463
9-10: $152,730
11-12: $129,957
13-14: $113,030
15-16: $98,331

Action was slow at the start of the day, but the pace of play picked up during the late stages of the night. Even with the increase in speed, just six players fell on the first day of this five-day tournament.

The first elimination came when Dan Kelly opened the action on a flop of 10Spade Suit 9Club Suit 8Spade Suit during a pot-limit Omaha hand. Two players mucked before Dan Shak raised to 40,000. Kelly then reraised all in for 140,000 and Shak went into the tank before making the call. Their cards:

Shak: 9Heart Suit 9Diamond Suit 8Club Suit 3Club Suit
Kelly: AHeart Suit KClub Suit QSpade Suit JSpade Suit

Turn and River: 2Club Suit and 6Spade Suit

Tom DwanKelly made a flush and Shak was crippled with 1,100. He busted a short time later as the first player to exit the tournament. The second player to fall was none other than Tom “Durrrr” Dwan (pictured right). His bracelet bets suffered a small setback when he busted during the fourth level of play. Two hands ultimately led to his demise.

In the first, Dwan reraised preflop to 7,200 during a limit hold’em round and Nikolay Evdakov made the call after the original raiser mucked. The flop was dealt QSpade Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Club Suit and Dwan bet 11,300. Evdakov raised to 25,000 and Dwan made the call. The turn fell KHeart Suit and Dwan checked. Evdakov bet 30,000 and Dwan called before the river fell 3Club Suit. Dwan check-called another 25,000 on the river before Evdakov flipped over AHeart Suit KDiamond Suit to win the pot. Dwan was left with 35,000 after the hand and Evdakov climbed to 215,000.

The next hit came during pot-limit Omaha when Dwan checked a flop of AHeart Suit 9Club Suit 4Club Suit along with Daniel Negreanu and Shawn Buchanan, and then the JSpade Suit fell on the turn. Negreanu bet 5,000 and both Buchanan and Dwan made the call. The river brought the 10Spade Suit and Negreanu and Buchanan each checked. Dwan bet 11,200 and Negreanu mucked. Buchanan made the call and flipped over QDiamond Suit JClub Suit 10Heart Suit 8Spade Suit to win the hand. Dwan was left with less than 20,000 after that and he busted a short time later.

Play ended just before 3 a.m. and 110 of the original 116 have made it through to day 2 tomorrow. The four other players that hit the rail were Andrew Brown, Marc Karam, Greg Mueller, and Brian Townsend. The top of the leader board is stacked with big-time professionals and the chip leader is Swedish professional Erik Sagstrom, who ended play with 329,100. Here is a look at the top of the leader board for day 1:

CAPTION1: Erik Sagstrom — 329,100 (pictured left)
2: David Oppenheim — 313,800
3: John Cernuto — 265,000
4: Joseph Serock — 265,000
5: Steve Billirakis — 260,000
6: Justin Bonomo — 255,000
7: Nikolay Evdakov — 255,000
8: Barry Greenstein — 240,100
9: Josh Arieh — 240,000
10: Dan Kelly — 223,000

Check back tomorrow at 3 p.m. when cards get back into the air at the $50,000 Players Championship. The field returns for six more levels of action and you can follow every minute of it at



almost 11 years ago

Are you just trolling?

Negreanu has a S.H.O.E bracelet and LIMIT HE braclets and ran deep in WSOP events in every other available game including cashing in this event last year (like he always does?). Hard to call that a NLHE only player. So explain to us your brilliant assessment of his mixed game play.

Or are you just a Negreanu hater so are one of those guys that would make up absolute stupidity to trash him when really it just makes you look like you have no idea.

Good Luck Daniel.


almost 11 years ago

Of all the people to trash you trash Negreanu, if we are talking NLHE televised cash games then maybe but mixed game tourneys, I don't see it. You are probably one of those people cheering on JR Bellande on twitter even though he should be looking for a proper job rather than trying to pretend he is actually a poker pro, that guy has no BR and still thinks he should be trying to get into a $50K event. Thats a guy who needs to realise how bad he is at poker.....


almost 11 years ago

Negreanu a "strictly NLH player"....HA. Please Lee, do some research before typing. thanx. "just sayin"


almost 11 years ago

You datamining statistice fools let me ask you. At least DG is out there playing. How come your not in the headlines? Chagra Nice name by the way Best dope dealer in the 70s and the hidhest rollers ever to play in Vegas.