One word best describes the objective of almost every poker player who makes it to Day Two of the World Series of Poker Main Event Championship. That word is -- survival.
Indeed, the goal is to survive. Not to bust every player at the table. Not to win every pot. Not even to accumulate a massive number of chips. No one wins poker’s world championship on Day Two. But a significant number of players lose the chance to win the championship when they misplay the second day.
822 players out of a returning field of 2,031 players met their objective. They will continue what is unquestionably the greatest journey in all of poker. By contrast, more than 1,200 players failed to survive. For those who were eliminated and now ponder the disappointment of a long off-season, two words come to mind – next year.
An eclectic mix of poker players are already thinking about next year, even though they gave the 2011 WSOP their best shot. One such player was NBA all-star Paul Pierce, who plays for the Boston Celtics. Pierce participated in a number of WSOP events this year, including the Main Event. He survived Day One, but was eliminated late on Day Two (Note: A photo of Paul Pierce autographing a basketball for former "November Niner" Dennis Phillips appears attached to this story).
"I had a great time," Pierce said as he exited the tournament room to applause. "I'll definitely be back next year."
Among the more notable developments from Day 2-A were:
Former Champions Eliminated: Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen, Jonathan Duhamel, Dan Harrington
Former Champions Remaining: Jamie Gold, Robert Varkonyi, Tom McEvoy, Joe Cada. Phil Hellmuth, Jr.
Well-Known Players Eliminated: Mark Vos, Matt Glantz, Foster Hays, Matt Hawrilenko, Tom McCormick, Marcel Luske, Filippo Candio, Vicky Coren, Lex Veldhuis, Wendeen Eolis, Bernard Lee, Andy Bloch, Barry Shulman, Yevjeniy Timoshenko, Marco Traniello, Gavin Smith, Soi Nguyen, Phil Gordon, Bill Gazes, Bill Chen, Jimmy Fricke, Allen Kessler, Sammy Farha, Dutch Boyd, Pat Pezzin (by no means complete).
Well-Known Players Remaining: Doug Lee, Freddy Deeb, Alexandre Gomes, Donny Mizrachi, Phil Laak, Matt Matros, Kristy Gazes, David Bach, David Oppenheim, Joshua Tieman, Fred Berger, Shannon Shorr, Adam Junglen, Brad Garrett, Minh Ly, Mike Caro, Jason Mercier, Dan Shak, Jason Alexander, Daniel Negreanu, Annette Obrestad, Mickey Appleman, Ted Forrest, Lee Childs, Shaun Deeb, J.P. Kelly, Tex Barch, Ville Wahlbeck, Mel Judah, Vitaly Lunkin (by no means complete).
A complete list of all remaining players and chips counts can be seen HERE.
Prior to the start of Day 2-A, the tournament began with a special moment. Three very special people were introduced to the sea of players and spectators. The three men had driven together to Las Vegas from their homes in Lafayette, IN. The drive took 30 hours. One of the men, a recreational poker player named Mike Buttice, won a seat into the WSOP Main Event at a satellite tournament held at the American Legion, Post 113, in Lebanon, IN.
Prior to winning his seat, he had made a commitment to a friend named Michael Stevens that he would someday take him to Las Vegas. Stevens, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, is a strong-willed man and a dedicated poker player. In a remarkable gesture that redefines both generosity and friendship, Buttice decided to give his WSOP seat to Stevens. The friends were joined by another friend named Dave Hughes. The three men arrived in Las Vegas just prior to the start of the Main Event.
Stevens took his seat on Day One, and with the (physical) assistance of his two friends, he survived and made it to the second day. Then, just prior to the start of Day Two, the three friends were introduced to the crowd. Their inspiring story was told to the audience, which was followed by a loud standing ovation.
After Stevens, Buttice, and Hughes were introduced, defending world champion Jonathan Duhamel greeted the large audience. He was originally scheduled to perform the "Shuffle Up and Deal" announcement. However, Duhamel was eager to share the spotlight with the three friends once he heard their story, although they were not acquainted. Just prior to the shuffle announcement, Stevens spoke into the microphone and proposed a “last longer” bet with the world champ. Duhamel jokingly declined. All four players -- champions in their own right -- then gave the “Shuffle Up and Deal” pronouncement in unison.
As for the "what if" side bet -- Duhamel should be happy he did not accept the wager. Stevens survived the day and will play on Day Three. Duhamel did not -- which means there will be a new world champion crowned in 2011.
The second flight of Day Two will be played on Tuesday. There are 2,490 survivors returning for what is classified as Day 2-B. At day’s end (Tuesday), the remaining players will combine with the survivors from Day 2-A, and will form a single field.
Hence, when tournament play commences on Thursday, July 14th all remaining players will be inside the tournament arena together for the first time. That will be Day Three. Once that happens, excitement will continue to build until what should be a thrilling crescendo when the nine finalists, known as the “November Nine” will be determined on July 19th.
Special Note: It should be noted that Wednesday, July 13th is an off-day at the 2011 WSOP. All Main Event players will be granted a one-day recess.