WSOP TODAY: July 7; Hachem, Hellmuth among day 1A Main Event casualties

Highlights from day 42 of the 2012 WSOP (July 7)

The 2012 WSOP Main Event kicked-off yesterday with 1066 players signing up for the opening day one flight of the $10,600 No Limit Hold’em World Championship. After 12 hours of play, 657 players were still standing.

The day started 92-year-old Ellen “Gram” Deeb, from upstate New York issuing the order to “shuffle up and deal”. She arrived in Las Vegas to play in her second consecutive WSOP Main Event, after her “rookie” year in 2011. “I just have one thing to say – you’re all playing for second!” came the warning from Mrs Deeb.

Opening day is often unkind to former winners, and headlining the bust outs were 1989 World Champion and 12-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, Jim Bechtel, the 1993 champion and Joe Hachem, Australia’s own WSOP champ of 2005.

Others to hit the rail included Frank Kassela, the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year, actor Ray Romano, and WSOP gold bracelet winners Eric Froehlich, Allen Bari, Greg Mueller, Kathy Liebert, and Ted Lawson.

Defending champion Pius Heinz also experienced a tough day, spending 10 of the 12 playing hours well below the chip average. At one point, he was down to about 10,000 in chips from a 30,000 starting stack, but doubled up late in the night and ended the session with 39,275 in chips. Peter Eastgate was the last reigning champion to cash the year after his victory.

And we suspect the WSOP’s Austria v Australia curse may have struck again. Day 1A chip leader William John is listed as Austrian in the official chip count, but he sure looks like an Aussie! We’re awaiting confirmation from WSOP officials on his true nationality, but for the moment, let’s claim the chip leader, who holds 266,700, holding a massive advantage of more than 100,000 chips over the second-ranked player. John has no history of ever cashing in a WSOP-related event. Based on past events, this early leader now has about a 50 per cent chance of cashing in this tournament.

In addition to John and Hachem, other Aussies in action on day 1A included Jackie Glazier (pictured, with thanks to wsop.com), Didier Guerin, Arthur Kalantzis, Warwick Mirzikinian, Julian Powell, Jason Pritchard and Tom Rafferty. Kalantzis, Mirzikinian and Powell were all eliminated.

Day 1A chip count (top 10)

1 William John (Australia/Austria) 266,700
2 Gerardo Lubas (Philippines) 165,825
3 Daniel Strelitz (USA) 164,125
4 Dane Lomas (USA) 157,600
5 Cary Katz (USA) 154,850
6 Benjamin Pollak (France) 144,200
7 Chance Kornuth (USA) 141,775
8 Jonathan Cuevas (USA 141,675
9 Jared Okun (USA) 141,350
10 Eric Kurtzman (USA) 136,900

Aussies through to day 2

Didier Guerin 52,250
Jason Pritchard 38,450
Jackie Glazier 32,950
Tom Rafferty 18,625

• Bracelet events that end after the start of the Main Event are often overshadowed, so here’s a quick wrap of the tournaments that were decided yesterday.

Germany’s Dominik Nitsche collected the huge first prize of $654,797 in the final $1000 No Limit Hold’em event of the 2012 WSOP. Jonathan Hilton placed second for $405,156 while several Aussies cashed in this event, including Mario Doria, Jim Sachinidis, Paul B Birman, Tim Duckworth and Jeff Mumford.

New York poker pro Nick Schulman laid claim to one of the last remaining bracelets in Event #60, the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball World Championship.

After getting the best of runner-up former gold bracelet winner Mike Wattel in a surprisingly brief heads-up duel, Schulman was awarded the sum of $294,321 in prize money, plus his second gold bracelet.

Schulman’s win marked his second victory in this event – a phenomenal accomplishment given the composition of the field. In 2009, he outlasted a then-record field of 96 players to take home his first WSOP bracelet and $279,742.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla, WSOP.com

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