Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The True Story: Day 1 Chip Leaders at the WSOP Main Event

The tortoise and the hareWatched some of the coverage of the 2010 WSOP Main Event again last night on ESPN. Yesterday they showed highlights from Day 1c and Day 1d, giving an hour to each day. These Day 1 flights are okay, but not terribly riveting, really. I’m glad ESPN appears to have changed its original plan to give two hours each to the four flights and instead devote more time to the more exciting -- and relevant -- Days 6 and 7. (See the full schedule here.)

Speaking of Day 1 not being all that important in the larger scheme of things, there was an interesting moment from last week’s episodes involving Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, the highlighted player at the feature table during Day 1a. If you saw the show, you might remember this -- a kind of strange-sounding statistic thrown out by Matusow to his tablemates.

Matusow’s claim came following a weird hand involving himself, Gerhard Maurer, and Alex Carr. The Mouth is in the small blind with QhJs, Maurer in the big blind with QsJd, and Carr on the button with Jh9h, and all three players make straights on the turn, with the board showing 9c8sQcTc.

“What are the chances of that?” asks Lon McEachern. “Actually we just checked our statistical archives,” answers Norman Chad, tongue firmly in cheek. “It’s the first time in the history of the Main Event three players have made a queen-high straight on the turn on Day 1!”

Matusow checks from the small blind. Maurer, in the big blind, then bets 3,000 into the 4,800 pot, and Carr promptly calls from the button. “That could be the greatest check I made in my entire life,” says Matusow. “I was checking to induce a bluff, not a bet and a call,” he adds with a grin. Finally, he lets his hand go.

The river is the Th, pairing the board, and Maurer wastes little time moving all in for his last 8,925. Carr doesn’t wait long, either, before calling, and Matusow is a bit dismayed to see his two opponents had neither better straights, flushes, or full houses.

“This is one long, long, long, long, long tournament,” says Matusow afterwards, perhaps in part to make himself feel better about the hand. Having made no less than two WSOP ME final tables (2001, 2005), plus made a couple of other deep runs (87th in 2004, 30th in 2008), Matusow obviously knows from experience that losing a hand on the first day isn’t necessarily cause for too much despair.

A commercial break follows, and when the show resumes Carr is shown saying “running good early on Day 1... that’s bad.” That’s when Matusow -- sort of like Chad did with McEachern, only Matusow isn’t kidding -- offers to provide some data, in this case to back up the idea that being among the chip leaders on Day 1 is no guarantee of success in the WSOP Main Event.

Matusow claims only one player among the top 100 at the end of Day 1 in 2008 ultimately made the cash“In 2008 when I got 30th,” says Matusow, “I was like 16% of average chips for five straight days.” His opponents nod in agreement, Matusow’s experience sort of affirming Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. No need to worry about racing out in front early. Slow and steady can win the race, too.

The Mouth continues. “And only one person of the entire top 100 chip leaders on Day 1 cashed.”

“That can’t be right,” says Carr. “Actually, that’s not even close to accurate,” Chad slips in. “That is a true story,” affirms Matusow. “That’s why Day 1 doesn’t mean zero!” he concludes. Probably meant to say that’s why Day 1 means zero, but we get the point.

Carr was right to question Matusow’s claim. A good number usually make it through Day 1 of the Main Event. This year a little over 70% of the starting field of 7,319 made it to Day 2. In 2008, there were 3,629 players still in the hunt after one day of play out of the starting field of 6,844 (about 53%). The top 10% or so make the cash (in 2008, the top 666 were paid), so it stands to reason at least a few of those in the top 100 at the end of Day 1 should still be around once the cash bubble burst.

Chad’s editorial comment made me curious to see just how inaccurate the statement was that only one player among the top 100 at the end of Day 1 in 2008 actually made the cash. So I looked back to see.

What follows is a list of the top 100 at the end of the four Day 1 flights (combined) from the 2008 Main Event. If the player ultimately made the money, I’ve added in parentheses where the player finished and how much he or she earned (and put them in bold). If the player did not make the top 666, there is no note beside the name.

2008 WSOP Main Event, Day 1 chip leaders

1. Henning Granstad -- 242,950 (finished 553rd, $23,160)
2. Mark Garner -- 194,900
3. Ben Sarnoff -- 177,500
4. Brandon Adams -- 176,450
5. Curt Kohlberg -- 173,050
6. David Baker -- 163,450 (252nd, $35,383)
7. Brian Schaedlich -- 160,725 (456th, $27,020)
8. Howard Berchowitz -- 160,075
9. Arnaud Mattern -- 157,650
10. Kellen Hunter -- 155,200 (115th, $41,816)
11. Stefan Mattsson -- 154,275
12. Steve Austin -- 149,000 (552nd, $23,160)
13. Mohamad Kowssarie -- 146,000
14. Patrick Fortin -- 145,275 (390th, $28,950)
15. Robert Mizrachi -- 142,400 (458th, $27,020)
16. David Stucke -- 140,525 (510th, $25,090)
17. Sami Rustom -- 140,450
18. Dylan Linde -- 138,425 (366th, $28,950)
19. Jeff Frerichs -- 138,025
20. Diren Yildiz -- 136,075 (181st, $38,600)
21. Soren Peterson -- 135,475
22. Josh Schiffman -- 133,000
23. Adam Hudson -- 127,750
24. Nick Caltabiano -- 127,700
25. Nikolay Losev -- 127,225 (28th, $193,000)
26. Evan Woodington -- 127,125 (451st, $27,020)
27. Michael Souza -- 126,100 (291st, $32,166)
28. Serj Markarian -- 126,000 (521st, $25,090)
29. Joe Marcal -- 125,325
30. Victor Ramdin -- 124,600 (64th, $96,500)
31. Wayne Brown -- 124,575
32. Robin Andreas Berggren -- 124,125 (196th, $38,600)
33. Todd Rebello -- 123,925
34. Andrew Tisler -- 123,900
35. Michael Martin -- 123,025
36. Samir Shakhtoor -- 122,875 (208th, $38,600)
37. Christian Choi -- 122,225
38. Marko Batanjac -- 122,000
39. Charles Dolan -- 121,625 (177th, $38,600)
40. Kido Pham -- 120,650 (41st, $154,400)
41. Nghia Le -- 119,750 (108th, $41,816)
42. David Singer -- 119,425
43. William Purle -- 118,575 (171st, $38,600)
44. Igor Ioffe -- 118,525 (345th, $32,166)
45. Diogo Borges -- 115,825 (404th, $28,950)
46. Joe McGowan -- 115,575 (505th, $25,090)
47. Jason Mannino -- 115,100
48. Jay Katsutani -- 115,000
49. David Oppenheim -- 114,400
50. Michael Johnson -- 114,000 (545th, $23,160)
51. Mark Vos -- 113,200 (80th, $77,200)
52. Alexander Borteh -- 112,425 (197th, $38,600)
53. Anton Allemann -- 112,250
54. Woodrow Johnson -- 111,900
55. Alexander Kostritsyn -- 111,850
56. Mojgan Stringham -- 111,475
57. Chino Rheem -- 111,375 (7th, $1,772,650)
58. Liya Gerasimova -- 111,050
59. David Dao -- 111,005 (453rd, $27,020)
60. Kara Scott -- 111,000 (104th, $41,816)
61. Bill Blanda -- 111,000 (333rd, $32,166)
62. Brad Booth -- 110,825
63. Patryk Hildebranski -- 110,350
64. Robert Eckstut -- 110,275
65. Evelyn Ng -- 110,225 (238th, $35,383)
66. Danny Smith -- 110,175
67. Alex Balandin -- 109,925
68. Carlos Mortensen -- 109,825
69. Leonid Yanovski -- 109,575
70. Jan Skampa -- 108,450
71. Messaoud Bouchaib -- 108,375 (643rd, $21,230)
72. Kory Mitchell -- 107,500 (414th, $28,950)
73. Mohsin Charania -- 107,475
74. Jason Kang -- 107,375 (532nd, $25,090)
75. Coco Valerice -- 106,727
76. John Goossens -- 106,350
77. Joshua Norris -- 106,325 (179th, $38,600)
78. Marc Podell -- 105,800 (100th, $41,816)
79. Bryan Colin -- 105,650
80. Doron Malinasky -- 104,950 (246th, $35,383)
81. Michael Watson -- 104,425
82. Dale Sing -- 104,125 (662nd, $21,230)
83. Tim Loecke -- 104,050 (23rd, $257,334)
84. Heidi Northcott -- 103,075
85. Gus Hansen -- 102,900 (160th, $41,816)
86. David Saab -- 102,525 (46th, $135,100)
87. Paul Loh -- 102,125
88. Andrea Benelli -- 102,050
89. Israel Hodara -- 101,525 (381st, $28,950)
90. Gilles Smadja -- 101,450
91. Whitney Blanton -- 101,450 (412th, $28,950)
92. Johan Berg -- 101,450
93. Bill Meyer -- 101,150
94. Raymond Rice -- 100,575
95. Eetu Vehilainen -- 100,325 (434th, $27,020)
96. Arthur Azen -- 99,800
97. Aaron Kanter -- 99,700
98. Grudi Grudev -- 98,800
99. Daryl Yarosh -- 98,575
100. Scott Montgomery -- 98,525 (5th, $3,096,768)

So, yeah, a few more than one of the top 100 at the end of Day 1 did cash back in 2008. In fact, almost half of them did -- 46 in all. More than I thought would be there, to be honest. Among those in the list are two who made the final table (Chino Rheem and Scott Montgomery), as well as nine players who’d be among the top 100 at the end of the event.

Incidentally, any errors here are obviously my own. I did the cross-checking myself, and could well have missed somebody, especially if the name was listed differently on the counts and payouts, although I think I caught everyone. (Also had to mess with spreadsheets a little to combine the four Day 1 flights -- another chance for errors to creep in.)

I imagine the results from other years would probably be similar. The WSOP Main Event is a long, long tourney, and there are many, many ways to get from that first hand to the money and ultimately the final table and the bracelet.

Then again, I think it is safe to say that Day 1 does mean more than “zero.” Especially if that happens to be your chip count at the end of Day 1, as was unfortunately the case for 2,173 players this year -- including Matusow.

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