Placerville, CA's Shawn Daniels leads all Day 2AB players in the 2018 WSOP Main Event after bagging 533,500 in chips Thursday night.

 

Las Vegas, NV (5 July 2018 ) -- Thursday's Day 2AB in the 2018 World Series of Poker's No-Limit Hold'em Main Event - World Championship has completed play for the day, with Placerville, CA's Shawn Daniels bagging 533,500 in chips to lead the day's 1,131 surviving players. That total was a bit less than half of the 2,460 players who started play on Day 2AB 12 hours earlier

Daniels surged to the lead very late in a day that saw several different players edge across the 500,000 chip plateau, only to slide back in the night's last two levels. Daniels made a deep run in the Main Event just one year ago, when he finished 72nd and earned $101,444, roughly half of his $201,092 in lifetime WSOP earnings. The solid start has Daniels in great position to post another big score this time around.

The 32-year-old Daniels (pictured) is just ahead of four other players who also finished the night with more than 500,000 in chips. McLean, VA's Eric Liebeler bagged 532,000 for second, closely followed by Spain's Samuel Bernabeu, with 524,000. Michael Dyer (502,400) and Casey McCarrel (501,800) rounded out the flight's top five.

Day 2AB started with an unusual occurrence, when Day 1A's reported leader, Timothy Lau, realized that he'd accidentally miscounted his chips when bagging and tagging three nights ago. Instead of the 338,700 he tallied, he instead had a bit under 190,000, meaning that Truyen Nguyen was the corrected Day 1A leader. Despite the unexpected shortage, however, Lau enjoyed another solid day, finishing just outside the top ten with 440,900. Day 1B leader Smain Mamouni also enjoyed another good day, making it into Day 2AB's top ten with 481,500.

Every Main Event offers its own unique stories and special characters, and Thursday's Day 2AB was no exception. One of the most entertaining was that of El Segundo, CA's Eric Hicks, who as, the tale goes, almost didn't play the Main. Hicks, 49, who owns and operates businesses in Los Angeles and San Francisco involving electric bikes and electric vehicles, has played occasional WSOP events for years as a vacation from his busy work schedule. This year he's been less mobile, riding a powered scooter up and down the halls as he recovers from a recent motorcycle accident.

Hicks almost left the WSOP for the year last Sunday, out of boredom, he said, and he and friends decided to party a bit on Sunday night. On a whim, he brought along a tablet and fired up WSOP.com's online poker and entered the $200 Scramble, a major satellite offering 25 seats into the Main. Between riding in the back seat of the car between bar stops and having the tablet between the handlebars of his scooter the rest of the time, he rode roughshod over the online satty to win his seat. "Look, I'm #1 in chips!" he kept telling his friends, who at first weren't believing his tale.

Hicks wants badly to make a final table in the Main Event. He already made a WSOP final table last year, in Event #49: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed, but his free-spirited nature got the better of him. "I swore I wouldn't do what I did last year," he said. "I made the final table and I have no memory of it, I got so drunk. That's the worst bad-beat story of all time.

"I don't even dream I'm going to make the final table; I'm just glad to be chip leader for one moment," and indeed Hicks accomplished that this day. "That's enough for me. I'll be happy with whatever happens." Hicks, though, has demonstrated some skills; he made the money in the 2014 Main Event, and was somewhere near the top five in chips midway through that tourney.

Hicks admitted that he plays only a couple of events each year, and those come here at the WSOP. This year, it's a PLO event and the Main. This is my one vacation; we don't even take weekends off. The hair thing is me" -- referring to his wild and unkempt locks, somewhat kept under a bright red ballcap. "I just don't have time to cut my hair." A deep run and a big cash would certainly fund that haircut... if he can find to work it in. Hicks did settle back some after topping the 500,000-chip plateau, but ended the night with a very playable 300,000 stack.

Other Day 2AB stories were just as successful, if more laid back. Finishing high in the counts was Eric Liebeler, a Washington, DC-based attorney who's been playing a handful of WSOP attempts for the better part of two decades. Liebeler has posted a few nice cashes and made a final table in a limit hold'em event in 2003, but so far, Main Event success has eluded him. He's entered the ME four times previously with no success, but his solid Day 2 has him hoping this year might be different. Liebeler ebded the day second in chips, his 531,000 just behind Daniels' 532,500.

As he shared with the WSOP, “Today just started, like, the fifth hand... a guy to my right had played the first four hands, and I came over the top of him the fifth hand with pocket nines and made him fold the flop. It's just been running hot ever since. About an hour ago” – this was during Level 9, the fourth of Day 2AB's five two-hour levels – “there was another guy at the table who had just about my stack. I maybe had 280K and he had 260. He thought I was making a move on the turn; he led, I raised, he jammed, and I had the stone nuts. It was an immediate call, an absolute no-brainer, and he had six outs and missed.

“Every poker player sort of dreams about what can happen, someone bluffing into you when you hold the nuts in the World Series Main Event. Okay, that's like one of the things you go to sleep at night thinking about.... And it just happened to happen.”

Liebeler takes his poker seriously, too, even if he knows he's not at the level of the game's superstars. "I've played poker for a long time. I made a World Series of Poker final table (in limit hold'em) in '03, and three years ago I went back and started all over again. I pulled out a game-theory book and really broke everything down and started over again. I'd been playing somewhat in the interim but in terms of my strategy and approach to the game, I completely threw it all away and started all over."

Many well-known players were in the running on Day 2AB, spread among the 2,460 players who had chips at the start of the day's play. Most survived, but many stars busted during the day's ten hours of play, including Owen Crowe, two-time Main Event finalist Antoine Saout, Andre Akkari, Michael Addamo, Sebastian Pauli, Joe Hachem, Erik Seidel, Gaelle Bauman,Perry Friedman, Faraz Jaka, Justin Bonomo, Jeff Madsen, and many others.

The bustout list also included the 2017 Main Event's breakout personality, Britain's John Hesp. Hesp gave the honorary "Shuffle Up and Deal!" announcement on Day 1B and survived that day's play, but never got much going on Day 2AB and exited halfway through. "The game of poker should be fun," he noted. "Those couple of hands earlier weren't fun, but it happens. I'm a realist and I accept that to get to the final table, it's going to be happening the opposite way to other people. And it did to me today."

The list of players moving on was deep and included many big names. Among those unofficially bagging more than 200,000 chips at the end of Day 2AB were Bart Lybaert, Kelly Minkin, Day 1A leader Truyen Nguyen, Jason Lester, Darryll Fish, Barny Boatman, Alex Foxen, Lacey Jones, Chris Klodnicki, Ben Yu, Darren Elias, David Bach, Marvin Rettenmaier, Juha Helppi, Allen Cunningham, Matt Berkey, Pierre Neuville, and Kristen Bicknell.

The largest Main Event in 12 years also generated a $74,015,600 prize pool, with $8.8 million being awarded to this event's winner when action concludes on Saturday, July 14. 1,182 players will cash, each of them locking in a minimum $15,000 payday when the money bubble bursts late on Day 3 or early on Day 4.

The official chip counts will be released early Friday morning, once all surviving player's chip slips have been tabulated. An unofficial 1,131 players bagged and tagged at the night and will return for Saturday's Day 3, to be joined by an even larger number of expected survivors of Friday's Day 2C action, which begins at 11 am.

Unofficial top ten chip counts for Day 2AB:

1 -- Shawn Daniels 533,500
2 -- Eric Liebeler 532,000
3 -- Samuel Bernabeu 524,000
4 -- Michael Dyer 502,400
5 -- Casey McCarrel 501,800
6 -- Brian Borne 491,000
7 -- Frank Bonacci 486,300
8 -- David Cabrera 483,800
9 -- Smain Mamouni 481,500
10 -- James Little 478,800

Live Updates from Day 2AB

Chip Counts from Day 2AB