Past Champions Thrive
Day 2b at the World Series of Poker Main Event began at noon today as 2,379 players took to their seats in the hopes of joining the survivors from Day 2a.

As the players break for dinner, nobody is near the 500,000 chip mark set by Brian Shaedlich at this time yesterday, but plenty of changes have been made as more than 1,000 players were eliminated during the first half of the day.

Defending champion Jerry Yang was ousted from the tournament during the first level of the day, but several past Main Event winners are thriving here on Day 2b.

Carlos Mortensen had a strong first half of Day 2b, moving into the top 20 on the leaderboard. The 2001 champion has had a quiet 2008 WSOP thus far but is poised to make noise in the Main Event with 135,000 chips going into the dinner break.

Phil Hellmuth is not far back with 115,000. Hellmuth has been trading pots and verbal jabs with Sweden's Ramzi Jelassi since the beginning of the day, which has been attracting plenty of atttention from the mobile ESPN camera crew.

"When you play with me, you don't just have to beat my cards, you have to beat me," Hellmuth said during one of their exchanges. "I think I can beat your cards," Jelassi replied. "I've had the best hand every time." After Jelassi bet the flop a few hands later, Hellmuth folded A-9 face up and asked Jelassi if he had the best hand. Jelassi showed 4-5 and quipped, "when you play with me, you don't play the cards, you play the man."

Chris Moneymaker, whose table was chosen to sit at the the ESPN stage, has chipped up in the first half of the day and has 92,000 going into the dinner break. Johnny Chan is also making his first Day 2 run the past few years, sitting with a healthy stack of 97,000.

Henning Granstad began today with 242,950 chips, the largest stack of any player at the start of Day 2. Granstad has increased his stack to 271,000 and remains among the leaders, although Terry Lade has overtaken him for the overall chip lead. Lade heads off for dinner with 380,000.

Other notables to move toward the top of the leaderboard in the first half of today include Cliff Josephy, Dave Benefield, Steve Billirakis and David Singer.

A few of the early casualties on Day 2b include Brian Townsend, Eric Lynch, John Juanda and Howard Lederer.

There are 1,278 players remaining as Day 2b breaks for dinner. Chip counts and up-to-the-minute updates are available at