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The biggest poker event in the world finally kicked off almost a week ago on July 7th. There had been some speculation that participation for the WSOP Main Event would be drastically lower this year due to recent problems with online poker it the US. Numbers were, indeed, lower than last year, but it wasn’t by much. An impressive 6,865 entrants paid $10,000 to play the No Limit Hold’em event, proving that poker is as popular as it’s ever been.

To accommodate such a huge field, the Main Event hosts Day 1 four times. At the end of 10 levels, the players remaining come back for one of two Day 2s. Seeing as the best in the world always come out for this prestigious tournament, it is no surprise that the leaderboard was filled with talent at the start of each Day 2.

Some of the biggest names to start Day 2a included Daniel Negreanu, Dan Harrington, Annette Obrestad, Lex Veldhuis, Gavin Smith, Jason Mercier, Humberto Brenes, and Johnny Chan (just to name a few).

Negreanu spent the day at the feature table and finished with a respectable 114,100 chips. Obrestad and Brenes also survived the day with healthy stacks, ending up with 90,500 and 157,900 respectively. Mercier will have some work to do on Day 3 as he finished Day 2a with just 34,400 chips.

Daniel Negreanu sits at the Feature Table during Day 2a. Photo courtesy of PokerNews.

Phil Hellmuth made Day 2a, but he had a very short stack of 11,800 going in. One would think that the owner of such a short stack would want to ensure that he got to Day 2 on time, but Hellmuth isn’t exactly your typical poker player. The story is that he actually forgot he was playing Day 2a and was in bed as his stack got blinded down to less than 8,000 chips.

Mike Matusow reportedly convinced hotel security to break into Hellmuth’s room to tell him to get his butt to the Rio. Hellmuth got dressed and drove to the Rio as fast as he could, and he then proceeded to prove that Matusow’s efforts were worth it. By the time the day was over he had grinded his stack up to a healthy 64,900 and will go into Day 3 with over 40bb.

Phil Hellmuth enjoys some chips after finally making it to Day 2. Photo courtesy of PokerNews.

Some of the biggest names to start Day 2b included Patrik Antonius, Mike Sexton, David Sklansky, Phil Galfond, Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, Liv Boeree, and Player of the Year contender Ben Lamb.

Lamb had a fantastic Day 2 and finished with 551,600 chips. He will be the chip leader going into Day 3. Antonius also had a good day and finished near the top of the leaderboard with 361,000 chips.

Ben Lamb finds himself the chip leader to start Day 3. Photo courtesy of PokerNews.

The overall chip leader of Day 1, Fred Berger, started Day 2a with an impressive 209,500 chips. Berger is known for winning a bracelet in the $3,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event back in 2002 where he beat Chris Ferguson heads-up for $197,400. He also won $197,584 back in 2010 after winning a WSOP Circuit event. Day 2 was unimpressive for him as he finished the day with the same stack that he started with, but it is still a very healthy stack going into Day 3.

Several of last year’s November Niners made Day 2, including Jonathan Duhamel, John Racener, Filippo Candio, Joseph Cheong, Matt Jarvis, and Soi Nguyen. Only Racener and Cheong made Day 3, with 182,900 and 229,100 chips respectively. Joe Cada, the winner of the Main Event in 2009, was able to survive Day 2a with 111,000 chips.

A 6,865 person field means that the total prize pool is $64,531,000, which makes first place an impressive $8,711,956. With so much talent left in the field, we’re guaranteed to see some exciting hands and memorable stories as we continue on our path to 2011’s November Nine. The players are on a well deserved break today, but the action continues tomorrow. We’ll be following the progress here on FTR, so be sure to check back soon for another update!