LAS VEGAS - Nearly 1,500 players started the World Series of Poker main event on Tuesday with a flurry of all-in bets as they worked to claim a spot in the event’s third day.
While many players simply looked to get through their second sessions without being eliminated, some tried to accumulate large amounts of chips to make a deep run in the no-limit Texas Hold ’em tournament.
Actor Jason Alexander started the day among the chip leaders with nearly 90,000 chips, and said he gained about 20,000 more chips during the first two levels of play.
“I have no illusions about where I’m going to wind up in this thing,” Alexander told The Associated Press. “My aggressiveness is counterbalanced by the fact that I just don’t want to be stupid. And when you’re a C-plus, B-minus player and you’ve got some chips, you can get stupid.”
Alexander said he wants to make it to a third day of play on Friday, but not without a healthy amount of chips.
“I’d like to be a little more aggressive and yet I have to be careful how I do that because I have limited skills,” Alexander said.
An hour later, Alexander eliminated another opponent with pocket aces, the best starting hand in poker.
“Really scary board,” he said after winning the hand despite the possibility of a straight given the community cards.
Mike Sexton, who has cashed 45 times at the series and won a gold bracelet in 1989 in a stud high-low tournament, said players this early in the tournament should only be hoping to stay in the tournament and not worry about having large chip stacks.
“You can’t win the tournament on Day 2 no matter how many chips you get a hold of,” said Sexton, who began the day with 11,000 more chips than he started the tournament with. “Just having average chips at the end of Day 1, the end of Day 2, the end of Day 3 is perfect for me. I mean I don’t think you really need to be chip leader or anywhere near it to have a fighting chance to win the tournament.”
Chips have no monetary value in the tournament, and can fluctuate wildly given that players can gamble their entire chip stacks at any time.
Top prize is $8.55 million, while 648 players will cash in the $10,000 buy-in main event.
Phil Laak found most of his stack gone early on Tuesday after losing a hand on the turn when an opponent hit a better pair.
“You’ve got the vultures circling, maybe they can witness the death,” the professional poker player said as television cameras and reporters eyed his table a few hands later.
“Think that might be good?” Laak asked as he folded pocket kings to a bet from an opponent with an ace on the board.
“I’m the worst,” he said after the opponent revealed that Laak had been bluffed.
Greg Raymer, the 2004 main event champion who was seated next to Alexander to begin the day, said players should not have minor goals other than making as much money as possible in the tournament.
“Do not have goals. Your only goal as a poker player is to play each hand as perfect as possible,” Raymer said.
Raymer said setting goals like doubling in chips by a certain point or simply surviving until another session can make people play bad poker.
“Accomplishing that goal at some point will be the wrong play,” Raymer said. “So now all of a sudden you’ll be avoiding risks that you should take or you’ll be taking risks you shouldn’t, because that’s the best way to accomplish your goal.”