The first day of a true field being culled went down in the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event as Day 2ab wrapped up just before midnight Saturday evening at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The field of 3,248 - plus about 100 start-of-day entries - was reduced to 1,087 survivors by the close of play.
The day proved far less eventful than Day 1c as a relatively normal five levels of poker played out, but that was likely to the relief of everyone involved.
A former Main Event champ had a big day from start to finish, beginning with a turn on the mic before the first card was dealt. Qui Nguyen, who took down poker's biggest tournament in a memorable and very lengthy final table in 2016, took the stage early to announce the shuffle and deal. He cracked wise about the length of the event and not to get too excited this early, but it certainly can't hurt to have a Day 2 like he had.
Already with a solid stack of 180,500 to kick it off, Nguyen had double that in the first level of play when he cracked aces with ace-deuce, flopping a wheel. He was soon north of 400,000 and continued to build from there until he bagged 602,400 by midnight.
The years since Nguyen's victory have not been especially auspicious in terms of poker winnings, as Nguyen has collected just around $13,000 since that $8 million windfall. Still, Nguyen has proven he can get through a field of this size once before, and he's off to a great start after two days of play.
He said he had to play off his image a bit, developed from his fearless play back in 2016.
"I played my normal game at first, people know that I am aggressive and that's how I was able to chip up," he said. "I did have to change my style, though. I know it's still a long way to go. So, I just want to make the money first."
Several leaders emerged with more than 700,000 to pace the field. Timothy Su (791,000) is the official end-of-day leader, followed by Tony Blanchandin (744,500, Anton Morgenstern, Florian Duta (731,500), and Galen Hall (705,900).
Dan Colpoys looked to be among that number before Morgenstern chopped him down just before play ended, flopping a flush in a three-bet pot against Colpoys' top pair, which also blocked the nut flush and turned into top two on the turn. Morgenstern doubled through with a river check-shove to leave Colpoys bagging 392,800.
Chris Ferguson, Daniel Negreanu, Ryan Riess, Justin Bonomo, Stephen Chidwick and Phil Galfond were some of the most notable names going bust during the course of Day 2ab play. Galfond said he got sneaky and flatted a raise with kings, only to get stacks in against a three-bettor and run into aces.
Everyone who did make it through returns to the Rio on Monday for Day 3. Before that, there's the matter of Day 2c, which takes place on Sunday from 11 a.m. The monster field will pack every available room in the house, and PokerNews will be on hand to relate what goes down as the WSOP Main Event action continues.