The 2009 World Series of Poker kicked off with Event #1 ($500 Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em) and 867 dealers, floorpeople and even bartenders put up $500 for a chance at the first bracelet of the Series. This year’s field generated a prize-pool of $389,700 with first-place to receive $83,778. This was just shy of last year’s 930-player field, which generated a $418,500 prize-pool.
After a short introduction by Tournament Director Jack Effel, Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, and professional poker player Phil Hellmuth, play got underway.
Day 1 saw 10 levels of play and action started off fast. Players began the day with 3,000 in starting chips and blinds at 25-50. Early on in level one at table #69, an impressive hand occurred when three players limped in preflop and the flop came 9x 4x 6x rainbow. Adam Drunkwalter was first to act and bet 150. The next player raised to 450, a third player called, and Drunkwalter reraised to 1450. After a call from the original raiser, the third player pushed all-in. All three players committed their entire stacks to the pot as spectators looked on. Disbelief broke out as the first player revealed pocket fours and the other pocket sixes; however, Drunkwalter flipped over pocket nines for top set on a “set-over set-over set” flop.
“I’ve never been involved in a hand like that before,” said Drunkwalter, a blackjack dealer from Reno Valley, California.
A few familiar names were in action in event #1. Kyle Morris, a poker consultant, could be found at table #17 for most of the day. Morris is probably best known as the man who re-raised Daniel Negreanu with a flush and told him to, “eat some of that,” at the featured table of the 2007 WSOP Main Event after Negreanu rivered a straight. Pat Poels, who won bracelets in the 2005 $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low and 2006 $1,000 Stud Hi-Low events, was also in action. Other prominent names in the field included WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart; former WSOP Tournament Director and current Tournament Director at the Bellagio, Jack McClellan; WSOP Director of Operations, Gary Thompson; and 2008 Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee, Marsha Waggoner. During the middle stages of the tournament, Ramy Zakaria found himself in a dominating chip position with approximately 35,000. He managed to be among the chip leaders throughout the day while his friend and co-worker, Ivas Abrahim, played a short stack until he found himself looking down at pocket aces an amazing four times in 40 minutes. This allowed Abrahim to increase his chip stack to among the chip leaders. Zakaria and Abrahim, who both work at the Palomar Club in San Diego as a floorman and cashier respectvely, were among the most active and dominating players throughout the day.
Day 1 was destined to be the last for many players as 785 of the 866 players were eliminated. Those sent packing included Waggoner, Stewart, Thompson, McClellan, Poels, Drunkwalter (the blackjack dealer from California), and Morris, who busted one off the money bubble in 83rd place. In fact, the money bubble was one short of busting when the 10 level limit of the day was reached; however, tournament officials extended play until the bubble burst within an additional 20 minutes. In the end, the day proved beneficial for the friends from San Diego, Zakaria and Abrahim, who both advanced to day two. Check back tomorrow at 2 PM as the remaining 81 players compete for the first bracelet of the 2009 World Series of Poker and follow the action live via WSOP Live Updates.
Past winners of the Casino Employees Event include :
- 2000- Dave Alizadeh ($21,800)
- 2001- Travis Jonas ($40,200)
- 2002- David Warga ($47,300)
- 2003- David Lukaszewski ($35,800)
- 2004- Carl Nessel ($40,000)
- 2005- Andy Nguyen ($83,390)
- 2006- Chris Gros ($127,616)
- 2007- Frederick Narciso ($104,701)
- 2008- Jonathan Kotula ($87,929)