After ten levels of player, just 51 players remain from a field of 205 that entered the $2,500 Big Bet Mix. This eclipsed the mark of 197 set last year. Leading the counts is former bracelet winner Naoya Kihara with 119,700.
"Last year, the first year this event took place, I made a Day 3 so I couldn't play it," said Kihara, "This year I was playing in cash games at the Bellagio, but I couldn't focus on those games. So I just cleared my mind and jumped in this. And I got lucky!"
Kihara won his bracelet back in 2012 in a $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed event and had to weather his fair share of storms today. At one point he got kings in against the deuces of Jan Suchanek, only for his opponent to make backdoor quads. This put him down to 35,000 but he soared back up to bag a healthy stack.
Also bagging up a big stack is Dario Sammartino with 117,000. Sammartino is coming off the back of a third place in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship, his only cash of the WSOP so far, but last year he registered four top-10 finishes including a third place in Event #6: $111,111 HIGH ROLLER for ONE DROP.
Other notables still in contention include $50,000 Poker Player's Championship runner-up John Hennigan (111,850), who's having a monster series, last year's final tablist Andrew Kelsall (66,200) as well as Mike Matusow (72,300), Eli Elezra (70,000), David "ODB" Baker (41,075), Barry Greenstein (27,375), and Brian Rast (23,150).
There were multiple bracelet-winners aplenty during the early levels, with Brian Hastings, David Bach, Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, John Monnette and Chris Vitch all joining in, creating a stacked field for the relatively modest buy-in of $2,500.
Iraj Parvizi lead this event last year after Day 1, but he would bust early on today, along with Jameson Painter, Mike Gorodinsky, Max Kruse, Robert Mizrachi and Phillip Hui. Players had the option of a single re-entry, and a number of the players eliminated early on took advantage of this.
The payouts were also confirmed today, with over $120,000 for first place.
With the swings of the big bet mix starting to show, the chip lead changed hands throughout the day, with Bruno Fitoussi, Randy Ohel, John Racener and Ryan Riess all having spells atop the counts.
After registration closed, it looked like Jeff Lisandro would bag the chip lead after scooping a huge Big O pot to sit with over 130,000. However, the Australian would slip back down the counts as Kihara and Sammartino battled it out for the end of day chip lead. Eventually, it was the Japanese that would claim the top spot.
Coverage continues on Wednesday, June 20 from 2 p.m. here on PokerNews with the tournament expected to play down to a final table.