Frenchman bags up chip lead after John Hesp kicked off the festivities and Max Steinberg hit the rail on the first hand

July 3, 2018 (Las Vegas, NV) - Another 2,378 players poured into the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino on Tuesday morning for the second starting flight of the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event.  

By the end of the five levels of play, the Day 1B field was trimmed down to just 1,794 players with Smain Mamouni (pictured) leading the field.

The day started however, with John Hesp announcing the ceremonial shuffle up and deal. Hesp earned his first-ever WSOP cash last year when he entered the Main Event to check something off his bucket list.

His first Main Event was a memorable one. The then 64-year-old from England had a well-documented deep run, finishing fourth for $2,600,000. Before last year, he was completely unknown. He’s having a much different experience this year on Day 1B.

“I could hardly get down the hallway before I was stopped and people would say ‘Hey John, can I take a picture?’” said Hesp. “So, that didn’t happen last year on the first day. As you know, that didn’t start to happen until we got much deeper.”

Hesp stood out last year because of his happy-go-lucky attitude and his desire to have fun at the table. It’s no different for him when he’s meeting fans. He just wants to spread more happiness around the poker community.

“I like fun and I like making people happy,” said Hesp. “If it’s just cracking a joke with them, and they’re happy then I’m happy. If I can pose a smile and put my arm around them, it doesn’t cost anything and there’s a person that’s just a little bit happier.”

Beyond the immediate joy he tries to spread, he also hopes that the happiness in the hallway carries over the poker table.

“As I’ve said last year, and continue to say, it’s become a bit dull,” said Hesp about certain aspects of tournament poker. “It’s all about the money and there was a lot of tanking and that will never be my style … my style was just having a ball and having fun. The more fun I had, the more money I seemed to get.”

Literal minutes after Hesp kicked off the day’s festivities, the field lost it’s first player. It was the second time in as many Main Event starting days that a player busted on the very first hand of the day. On Day 1A, it was Victor Ramdin who reaped the benefits after turning the nuts and sending a player home on the first hand.

Today, it was the more experienced player that busted on the first hand when bracelet winner Max Steinberg got his 50,000-chip starting stack into the middle preflop with pocket aces against Michael Rack’s pocket kings.

A king hit the flop and Steinberg was out the door before many players even took their seat.

“Well this is a first,” said Steinberg on his Twitter account. “AA first hand of the main. Get it all in vs KK. K in the window. Two players said they folded aces. GG!”

Yesterday’s elimination was the first time since the WSOP made the Main Event starting stacks 50,000 that somebody was eliminated on the first hand of the tournament. Altering it slightly for Steinberg’s elimination, he is the first player to get all in preflop on the first hand of the tournament since the increase to the starting stack.

Mamouni bagged up the biggest stack of the day’s action, finishing the day with 311,000. The Frenchman is an accomplished player in Europe but has yet to score a cash at the World Series on American soil.

“It’s been 10 years since my first time I played the World Series,” said Mamouni. “I won a Circuit ring in Marrakech. In Vegas, I haven’t played in 10 years. So, it’s a good comeback for me.”

Samuel Bernabeu was leading the pack for a lot of the day. It was a late rush of cards for Mamouni that vaulted him to the top and finished with the lead.

“I had a very difficult day, but I had my stack rising to 120 [thousand] or 130 [thousand] before I had a big spot with two other guys to put me into the chip lead,” said Mamouni.

Mamouni is joined at the top of the counts by Samuel Bernabeu (309,500), Barbara Rogers (307,000), Daniel Colpoys (246,800) and Alex Foxen (242,300).

Other notables to make it through the day include Michael Mizrachi, who finished fifth in the $365 PLO Giant earlier in the day, Lee Markholt, Johnny Chan, Pierre Neuville, Dan Fleyshman, Shaun Deeb, Melanie Weisner, Chris Ferguson, George Danzer, Darren Elias and Calvin Anderson, who is fresh off his second bracelet in the $10,000 Razz championship.

Jason Somerville, 2005 Main Event champion Jamie Gold, Justin Liberto, Noah Schwartz, Doug Polk, 2004 Main Event champion Greg Raymer and last year’s fan favorite Mickey Craft were among the unlucky players that were unable to bag chips at the end of the day.

The players that survived Tuesdsay’s action will have a day off on Wednesday before returning for Day 2A/B on Thursday. Day 1C will get underway on Wednesday at 11 a.m. and is expected to be the largest of the three flights.

Top 10 Chip Counts:

1st:Smain Mamouni - 311,000
2nd: Samuel Bernabeu - 309,500
3rd: Barbara Rogers - 307,000
4th: Daniel Colpoys - 246,800
5th: Alex Foxen - 242,300

6th: Alpheus Chan - 208,600
7th: Paul Varano - 204,400
8th: Brian Brubaker - 203,600
9th: Luis Vazquez - 201,800
10th: Liam O'Donoghue - 196,200

Full Chip Counts
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