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WPT World Championship, Day 1 Recap
Level 4: 200-400, 50 ante
By BJ Nemeth
WPT Anchor Kimberly Lansing has missed the last few tournaments here on the World Poker Tour, but she had an excellent reason -- maternity leave. Lansing gave birth to her son Jake in early March, and gives him a kiss as they check out the beautiful Bellagio Conservatory.
The Royal Flush Girls welcome the players to the start of the WPT World Championship. From left to right: Brittany Bell, Tugba Ercan, Ivy Teves, and Jeannie Duffy.
Kimberly Lansing interviews ClubWPT.com qualifier Harley Shepherd during a break on Day 1.
Shawn Cunix (right) won WPT Jacksonville earlier this month, where he played against Will Failla (left), who finished sixth in that event.
We don't know what they're talking about here, but Cunix could be asking how deep he will need to finish in this event to catch Will Failla in the WPT Player of the Year race. Failla leads the race with 2,050 points, and Cunix would need a fourth-place finish here to catch him, and a third-place finish to pass him. Of course, that assumes that Failla doesn't increase his lead by cashing in this last event of Season X.
Erik Seidel (standing, left) won the inaugural WPT High Roller event here at Bellagio during last year's WPT World Championship, capping off an amazing run in the first half of 2011 where Seidel won three high-roller events ($25,000 or higher buy-ins), finished in the top four in two others, won the NBC National Heads-Up Championship, and finished second in a WPT event, narrowly missing his second WPT title.
Unfortuntely, this season was not as successful for Seidel on the World Poker Tour. Seidel is the only player who cashed in all nine seasons of the World Poker Tour, but that streak ended when he was eliminated here on Day 1. Seidel went 0-for-Season X, but still holds the record with cashes in nine straight seasons. However, WPT Champions Club members Shawn Buchanan and Lee Markholt are knocking on the door with cashes in eight straight seasons.
Joe Serock (left) made back-to-back WPT Final Tables here in the U.S., finishing third both times to briefly take the lead in the WPT Player of the Year race. Failla regained the points lead at WPT Jacksonville, but Serock can pass Failla with a 15th-place or higher finish here. Serock is off to an excellent start, finishing Day 1 with about 200,000 in chips.
Serock posed for a photo with Nicolas Fraioli and Royal Flush Girls Ivy Teves (left) and Brittany Bell during one of the breaks.
Tommy Vedes won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in Hollywood, Florida last month, joining the elite club of players with two WPT titles. Vedes is the first player to win multiple titles since Antonio Esfandiari won his second title in the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December, 2010.
There have been 21 WPT titles awarded this season, and each title includes entry into the WPT World Championship. But since WPT Barcelona champion Luka Berglund is under 21 years old, he is ineligible to play here in Las Vegas.
Of the 20 remaining Season X champions, 18 entered on Day 1 -- only WPT Ireland winner Dave Shallow and WPT Grand Prix de Paris winner Matthew Waxman have yet to show up.
Unfortunately, WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion Sean Jazayeri (pictured above) was eliminated in the middle of Day 1, the only Season X champion to bust so far. The rest will attempt to become the first player since Tuan Le to win the WPT World Championship after winning a WPT title earlier that season. (Tuan Le did it all the way back in Season III.)
Matt Giannetti won WPT Malta last September, which was particularly notable because he was part of the WSOP's November Nine. While those nine players were on hiatus waiting to play out the WSOP Main Event final table, Giannetti went out and won himself a WPT title.
Bobby Oboodi won the WPT Borgata Poker Open last September, earning $922,441.
Daniel Negreanu poses for a photo with Leah Gwozdecki during the first break. Gwozdecki and her husband are visiting from Winnipeg, Canada, and were excited to get a photo with fellow Canadian Negreanu.
There were 103 entrants on Day 1, though registration remains open until the beginning of Day 3. That's right, players can still enter this tournament on Monday, and those that do will still have 62.5 big blinds to begin play.
As for those who played Day 1, only a small handful didn't survive the day. Here are the unofficial chipleaders heading into Day 2:
1. Steve O'Dwyer - 231,750
2. Masa Kagawa - 228,675
3. Tyler Smith - 221,600
4. Guillaume Darcourt - 215,250
5. Vanessa Selbst - 207,425
Day 2 begins at 12:00 noon PT, and the field will play four 90-minute levels. Stay tuned to WPT.com for continuing live coverage of the WPT World Championship.
10:49 AM, 05/20/12