The poker action continued on several events at the 41st World Series of Poker in Las Vegas over the weekend, and the much anticipated Tournament of Champions kicked off.
In event 45, the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competition, 35 players - all that remains from a massive original field of 3,100 - returned for what they hoped would be the final day on Sunday afternoon, with UK player Sam Trickett leading the charge on chip counts at 922,000.
By late night Sunday, Day 3 action had seen all but three players dismissed, including Trickett, with only Raymond Coburn (5,600,000), Jesse Rockowitz (5,500,000) and Thiago Nishijima (2,800,000) still in the game by level 28.
Play looked set to continue into the wee small hours of Monday morning.
Sunday afternoon also saw the return to the felt of 21 survivors in event 46 - a $5,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better contest that started out with 284 players in a stellar field that was reduced to first 130 and then 21.
Sergey Altbregin was the chip leader going into Day 3, chased by Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott and veteran player Perry Green, who holds three WSOP bracelets and finished second to Stu Ungar in the Main Event back in 1981.
By late night Sunday level 24 had been reached and the battle still raged, with only six players left standing, led by Dan Shak (1,080,000) and Joe Ritzie (940,000).
In event 47, another of the popular $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competitions, Day 1B started Sunday after Day 1A pulled in 1,759 hopefuls which was reduced to 257 survivors. There were big names galore in both Day 1s, and many of them have fallen in the hectic poker to decide who stays and who goes.
By Sunday evening and at level 9, Day 1B entrants had been whittled down to 476 from an original 1,369 registrations, and the officials called it a day.
The survivors will combine going into Day 2 with a field 773-strong, derived from a total initial entry field of 3,128 generating a prize pool of $2,815,000.
Day 1B leaders at close of play were Ben Klier (65,275) and Richard Ferro (64,375). Day 1A's chip leader was Chernykh Moscow, who finished with 75,150.
Notable names eliminated have included Phil Ivey, Jonathan Little, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Sebok, Jason Mercier, Beth Shak and Humberto Brenes.
In event 48, the $2,500 buy-in Mixed Event, Sunday afternoon's 192 starters were all that was left of an original 453 contenders
Jared Jaffe held the lead on 68,600, followed by Justin Smith (66,000), well ahead of a nevertheless intimidating slew of top players like Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Jennifer Harman, Alex Kravchenko, Michael Mizrachi, Bill Chen, Justin Bonomo and Chris Ferguson.
Tournament officials told the late afternoon starters that nine levels would be played before the chips were bagged until Monday afternoon.
By late Sunday night the action was still brisk, with 48 players left by level 15, and Adam Spiegelberg comfortably in the lead on 196,000, and Justin Smith retaining his number two position on 126,000.
The keenly anticipated Tournament of Champions, which kicked off Sunday afternoon, probably attracted the most interest over the weekend.
After three years out of the limelight and an extensive revamp, the event features a stellar player list of 27, twenty chosen by popular vote, who will play on three tables in a $1 million freeroll that will leave only nine players with a paycheck.
The composition of the player list is bound to catch the eye of public and media alike, comprised as it is of former champions Mike Matusow, Mike Sexton, and Annie Duke along with 2009 WSOP Main Event winner Joe Cada and 2009 WSOP-Europe champion Barry Shulman.
They will be joined by Top 20 vote-earners Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Erik Seidel, Chris Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, Johnny Chan, Scotty Nguyen, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda, Jennifer Harman, Huck Seed, Dan Harrington, T.J. Cloutier, Sam Farha, Howard Lederer, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem and Antonio Esfandiari.
The two remaining players are WSOP Academy Playoff winner and internet phenom Bertrand Grospellier and WSOP.com U.K. online qualifier Andrew Barton.
Former champion Mike Sexton was given the privilege of making the 'shuffle up and deal' call as the pros got down to business Sunday afternoon.
By late night Sunday Day 1 play had been completed at level 4 with only 5 players eliminated. Leading the 22 survivors was Erik Seidel on 72,075, with his nearest rival, John Chan on 71,325.
The rest of the top ten looked like this:
Mike Matusow 70,575
Barry Greenstein 56,775
Joe Hachem 55,650
Huck Seed 51,875
Bertrand Grospellier 51,175
Allen Cunningham 49,300
Scotty Nguyen 48,900
Dan Harrington 38,250
Source: InfoPowa News