Notes from the Floor: Day 1

-The tension in the air was shredded by the sounds of brass instruments emanating from a marching band pouring into the Amazon room at the Rio. Their rendition of Viva Las Vegas had players, dealers and media dancing and clapping along.

-Only a year removed from capturing his first bracelet, Eli Elezra has put himself in position to capture his second. But that didn’t stop Elezra from showing some jitters. As players were bagging their chips up for the night Elezra let his bag slip through his hands scattering some of his chips at his feet. Unfortunately for the 69 other players remaining, Elezra will start Day 2 with all of those chips. 

-The star-studded field in the first event produced a fair number of tough tables. But just before the dinner break Table #7 featured a Murderer’s Row lineup:

Seat 1 – Allen Cunningham
Seat 2 – Joe Sebok
Seat 3 – Andy Bloch
Seat 4 – Tony Cousineau
Seat 5 – Jose Rosenkrantz
Seat 6 – Patrik Antonius
Seat 7 – Hasan Habib
Seat 8 – Bill O’Connor
Seat 9 – Kathy Liebert

The only unknown at the table was O’Connor and despite his unfortunate draw, he survived and will return to a new draw for Day 2.

-Speaking of Liebert, she was involved in an unusual hand today that caught the attention of many. To quote official coverage:

Kathy Liebert and Jan Von Halle to her right were just involved in a hand in which Liebert checked the river and Von Halle checked behind. Sure, this isn't too big of a deal, but Von Halle checked behind with a Royal Flush.

As soon as the hands were turned over, Andy Black, Joe Sebok, and Amnon Filippi all jumped from their seats and yelled for the floor to come over. Von Halle was given a warning for collusion as he checked the absolute nuts last to act on the river.

The other players at the table chuckled, but all understand the seriousness that can ensue. The tournament directors that came to the table didn't find this a laughing matter at all.”

It’s forbidden in tournament play for a player with the nuts to check as last to act. The rule is in place in order to prevent soft play and collusion. The feeling here seemed to be that Von Halle had a momentary mental lapse, possibly not recognizing the true strength of his hand.

While it would have been easy to pile on, Liebert was gracious towards Von Halle in recounting the hand. “I’ve seen him around before. He’s a pretty good player.” She did have a smile on her face while she said it though.

Said Steve Frezer, one of tournament director Jack Effel’s top lieutenants; “We should have given (Von Halle) a penalty, but we let him off light with a warning.”

-According to PokerNews’ resident expert BJ Nemeth, “the big story today was there was no story.” Day 1 in 2007 saw problems with massive lineups, inadequate lighting, a failed experiment with the card faces and even the misspelling of Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack’s name on the card backs. Play went off with only one slight hitch, a sped up clock that was caught and adjusted for before the end of the first level of play.

With more than 3,000 players registered for Saturday’s event ($1,500 No Limit Hold’em), the field could cause some havoc and should prove to be the real test for the staff.

-Notable absences from today’s $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship included Phil HellmuthJerry Yang and Joe Hachem. While there was no immediate word on Hellmuth or Yang, reports indicate that Hachem had a family issue and won’t be in town until approximately June 20th.

-While Doyle Brunson had the honor of kicking the WSOP off with the ceremonial “shuffle up and deal” it was something he wrote the on his blog Thursday that had players talking.

"I visited 2+2 again and read some of the posts in the gossip section. There is a lot of good stuff but it is very time consuming so I won't be a regular reader. I couldn't help but notice the speculation about me and how long I am expected to live. It seems 85 was the under-over betting range. I'm willing to bet a lot of money I live longer than that if anybody really wants to bet on it. On second thought, I better not bet too much or my opponent might send Tony Soprano after me."

Brunson, who will turn 75 later this summer, has won his fair share but let’s hope he wins this bet too.