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At the start of day 1a of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event it was multiple bracelet winner Doyle Brunson who grabbed the microphone and the attention of the whole room as he kick-started proceedings. Today was the start of day 1b and it was the turn of a slightly younger gold bracelet winner who took over that particular mantle.

Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi took the microphone and told everyone it was time to grind before announcing shuffle up and deal. The button was placed in the ten seat, the cards were flung into the air and the hopes and dreams of hundreds of players started to spring to life.

At the start of level one the blue section of the Amazon room was devoid of notable faces with only former WPT winner Richard Toth and former EPT winner Lucien Cohen looking familiar, but we all know that it is not very cool for people to turn up on time for these events. Felix Lambertz must have been wishing he had taken some late tips from those particular notables after losing half of his stack, in his first hand and under extremely unfortunate circumstances.

We joined the action on the turn with Lambertz and a cowboy staring at a board of . The cowboy was in the blinds and Lambertz was on the button and the first action on the turn came from the Stetson wearing guy who bet 1,000. Lambertz raised it up to 2,525 and when the action transferred back to the Cowboy he three-bet to 5,525. Everyone at the table looked at Lambertz and his trembling hand grabbed his stack and four-bet to 9,650.

The Cowboy made the call and as soon as the river paired the board you could see a shift in the facial expression of Lambertz and it was not pretty. It seemed the Cowboy had filled up and he lead for 10,000 and a sickly little smile spread on Lambertz face before folding what we later learned was the nut flush. Other Party Poker qualifiers who have turned up in the blue section, on time, and without losing half of their stack were Simon Kovacic, Sylvain Lanternier and David Stimpar.

Triple Crown winner Jake Cody to his left

It’s a walk through purple town next and Olivier Theullion had an unfortunate seat draw finding himself to the left of former EPT winner, Mike “Timex” McDonald. John Duthie was quietly flicking cards about in the purple area as was former gold bracelet winner Scott Shelley.

John Bettio, Massimo Iucci, Kristian Kverneland, Dario Pavan and Marko Neumann were all in the purple area representing Party Poker. In the 2010 WSOP Main Event a certain Gianni Di Renzo was the last Party Poker qualifier left standing after finishing an impressive 29th place for a $255,242 haul and today he started like he had never been away after increasing his stack by 50% in the first level.

The Tan area is the area first to break and in level one a certain pairing of former WSOP player of the year Erick Lindgren, and the perfect male specimen, Patrik Antonius were seated next to each other. Luckily for them they wouldn’t be there any length of time.

In the Orange area there was a deluge of top notable players mixed in with a few Party Poker qualifiers. We had the Devilfish (and his mouth), Mike Matusow (and his mouth too), Allen Cunningham, Teddy Sheringham, Max Lykov, Andy Frankenberger, Andre Akkari and Sam Trickett mixing in with our own Erik Backlund, Marcus Balmert, Johannes Karlsson, Nicolas Fierro, Giovanni Safina, Robin Fisher and Harold Thauberger.

As we moved into the second level of the day things had gotten a lot tougher for David Stimpar who had former English Open champion Fabian Quoss sat to his immediate left, Stimpar sat on a starting stack size of 30,000. Samuel Davies was in similar shape with Triple Crown winner Jake Cody to his left, Davies fairing a little better with 38,000 in front of him. Cody was not the only Triple Crown winner in the room either.

A huge lay down with pocket kings

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Roland De Wolfe was sat at table 368 and was situated to the direct left of Gianni Di Renzo. Di Renzo had 41,000 after making a huge lay down with pocket kings. There was a raise and a cold call before Di Renzo three-bet with the cowboys and only the original raiser called. The flop was [6x] [4x] [4x] and Di Renzo bet 2,500 and his opponent called. The turn was the [2x] and Di Renzo fired out a second barrel of 5,000 but his opponent made it 13,000 in total. Di Renzo knew it was a fold or shove moment and he decided to bide his time, after all it worked for him last year!

After some seat changes Harold Thauberger found himself rubbing shoulders with Giovanni Safina and when you add former EPT and newly crowned gold bracelet winner Max Lykov into the mix, Thauberger had a bit of a challenge on his hands.

Another superstar in the orange area of the room was multiple bracelet winner Eric Froehlich. Froehlich had already cashed for over half a million at this years WSOP but nobody told Jason Layland about his resume. Froehlich raised in early position and there was a cold caller before Layland came into the pot with a squeeze of 1,500 and both players called. The flop was and Layland made the c-bet and only Froehlich called.

The turn was the and Layland check-called a 5,200 Froehlich bet. The river was the and Layland once again checked to Froehlich and after some time in the tank shipped his final 10,950 into the middle and Layland made the call. Layland had [ax][ax]and Froehlich had [7x] [7x]. Layland with 55,000 after eliminating a dangerous opponent who was on fire at this years WSOP. Marcus Balmert was also having a good first two levels and was up to 58,000 after getting three streets out of his only pair of aces of the day.

Level three was not a particularly productive level for the Party Poker contingent. Samuel Davies ran pocket queens into pocket kings and the net result was a 12,000 stack, Kristian Kverneland had just been joined by Bruno Fitoussi and he had 46,000, Simon Kovacic had 53,000, Dario Pavan 42,000, Jason Layland 50,000, Marcus Balmert 60,000 and Frie Dilling-Kjaer had 74,000 but everyone else had starting stack or lower.

As we entered the penultimate level of day 1b a crowd gathered around the table of Patrik Antonius as he was just about to double up with a flopped set of nines versus the pocket queens and open ended straight draw of his opponent.

I got off lightly

The Devilfish was enjoying himself and was having a laugh or five with Andy Black, Black was on the rail supporting him, and Jake Cody had just folded to a re-raise leaving him languishing at the low end of the chip counts with 16,000. On the Party Poker qualifier front it was a case of average-stack-itus with at least eight of the crew sitting with an average chip stack. The more promising stacks belonged to Harold Thauberger (65,000), Robin Fisher (55,000), Marcus Balmert (54,000) and Jason Leyland (52,000).

Towards the end of the last level of the day the Party Poker Qualifier chip leader had come all the way from Chile, Nicolas Fierro sitting on a healthy looking 83,000. Marcus Balmert was still protecting his mid 50,000 stack, as was David Stimpar and Jason Layland, the former now had 50,000 after losing 15,000 when his ace-king ran into pocket aces, “I got off lightly,” said Layland.

985 players registered for day1b (732 less than 2010) and 626 went home with a seat on day 2 in the bag including 17 from Party Poker. The biggest bag of the day that belonged to a Party Poker qualifier came all the way from South America; that bag belonged to Nicolas Fierro and it contained 106,950 chips.

  • Nicolas Fierro 106,950
  • Ramin henke, 92,875
  • Marcus Balmert, 59,975
  • Harold Thauberger 59,975
  • Oleg Epp, 56,150
  • Jason Layland, 50, 750
  • David Stimpar, 49,075
  • Dario Pavan, 42,600
  • Massimo Iucci, 39,550
  • Simon Kovacic, 39,050
  • John Bettio, 34,750
  • Olivier Theuillon 34,475
  • Sylvain Lanternier, 25,600
  • Samuel Davies, 29,125
  • Andreas Riden, 17,225
  • Vladimir Mefodichev, 11,375
  • Timothy Delgreco, 10,225

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