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WSOP Main Event breaks 7,300 player mark

9 Jul 2010

By Vin Narayanan
LAS VEGAS -- It's official. The 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event is the second-largest live poker tournament in history, with a field of 7,319 players and a prize pool of $68,798,600. The tournament will pay 747 places, with the Main Event champ winning $8,944,138. The player that finishes in 747th place will win $19,263. This year's Main Event is second in size to only the 2006 WSOP Main Event, which had 8,773 players and an $82,512,162 prize pool. Jamie Gold won the tournament and the $12 million first prize. A field of 2,391 on Day 1D Thursday helped the Main Event break the 7,000-player mark for just the second time. There weren't as many well-known pros -- and amateurs -- playing Thursday as there were Wednesday. But there was no lack of star power. Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Andy Bloch (and his iPad), Allen Cunningham, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Vanessa Rousso, Phil Gordon, Barry Greenstein, Joe Hachem, Jennifer Harman, John Juanda, Jeffrey Lisandro, Jason Mericer, Vanessa Selbst, Bernard Lee and Darvin Moon all took the felt Thursday. So did former NFL running back Emmitt Smith, Jason Alexander, Hank Azaria, Eve Plumb (Jan Brady), Shannon Elizabeth and Trishelle Cannatella (Real World, Las Vegas). Smith, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys, was asked to kick off play with the traditional call to "Shuffle up and deal!" But Smith flubbed his line. "Let's shuffle and play, baby!" yelled Smith into the microphone. As the room howled in laughter, Smith gave it a second go. "Let's shuffle up and deal," said Smith, before heading to his seat in the yellow section of the Pavilion. When Casino City caught up with Smith about an hour later, he had moved to a new table in the white section of the Pavilion that was well off the rail. Under the watchful eyes of a pair of bodyguards who politely asked players and photographers not to take pictures of Smith -- they were afraid that if one person took a picture, everyone would want one -- the ex-Cowboy kept his table light and loose with his "home game" demeanor. (Editor's note: Casino City did shoot one picture of Smith before being asked not to do so. That picture is posted at the left. Additionally, Smith's bodyguards allowed the WSOP to take one official picture to be distributed to the media, which can be seen below.) Smith joked around with his fellow players, and his table enjoyed talking poker with him. But in acting like the Main Event was a "home game," Smith also unwittingly violated a big rule. In a hand in which Smith had already folded, two jacks appeared on the board. A player to Smith's right bet. And the action was on a player to Smith's left. As the player to Smith's left pondered his decision, Smith asked out loud what most of the other players were thinking. "Which one of you has trip jacks?" mused Smith. "Shh," the dealer said. "You can't do that." "Do what?" Smith asked. "You can't get involved in another player's hand," said another player. "It's against the rules." At this point, Smith seemed flabbergasted. Then WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla walked up to the table. "Emmitt, in football it's a 15-yard-penalty. In poker, it's a 15-minute penalty," Dalla said before heading to another part of the Pavilion. After the player to Smith's left folded, the former NFL great took one more stab at defending himself. "Everyone knew they were thinking that," Smith said protesting. When told there's a rule book as thick as "the Bible" for poker, Smith just shook his head. While Smith was charming his table, Ferguson was sitting perfectly still several tables away. When Ferguson wasn't in a hand, he was motionless. When he was involved in a pot, the only parts of his body that moved were his hands. The rest of his body remained perfectly still. Even when he performed chip tricks, only the hands moved. The rest of Ferguson's body was motionless. "I get a lot of practice (at being still) playing poker," Ferguson told Casino City during a break in the action. "It's just a very relaxed meditative state. It's not like I'm trying to do anything." Ferguson, who watched some of the action in the Amazon Room on Tuesday and Wednesday, also said he's impressed with the players in the tournament. "This year the players are better than ever," Ferguson said. "It's the Internet. People have really learned to play very well on the Internet." "Because they can play so many hands so quickly, they learn really fast," added Ferguson. "And they learn a lot faster than they have in the past. It creates some amazingly good players." Those amazingly good players Ferguson referred to claimed their fair share of victims Thursday. Smith was sent packing this afternoon when his full house was beaten by a bigger one. Juanda was eliminated shortly after the dinner break ended. Both Joe and Tony Hachem busted out of the tournament. As did Pam Brunson and Cliff Josephy. While some of poker's best players headed to the rail, Darvin Moon showed he still knew how to catch cards. Moon, sporting his usual New Orleans Saints hat at the featured TV table, was heads-up after the flop against a player sitting to his right. Moon's opponent pushed all-in and waited for Moon to respond. Last year's runner-up, who looks exactly the same as he did in November (and last summer, for that matter) thought about the hand for a beat and then asked for a count. The dealer counted out 23,000 and Moon called right away. Moon turned over an ace and nine of spades. His opponent had pocket kings. Moon needed an ace or running spades to win the hand at this point. The turn was a nine, which killed Moon's flush draw. Now Moon needed a nine or an ace to win the hand. In the stands, there was no doubt about what was going to happen. Everyone knew an ace was on the way. And sure enough, the dealer turned over an ace on the river. Ladies and gentlemen -- Darvin Moon. Moon finished the day with 49,450 in chips. Steve Billirakis finished as the Day 1D chip leader, with 187,000. Ivey finished the day with 29,000 in chips. And Ferguson ended Day 1D with 45,000 in chips.

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