The 2016 World Series of Poker continued on Thursday with the start of the first open bracelet event of the summer and the conclusion of the $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em tournament. All summer long, PokerNews.com will be bringing you daily coverage that is brought to you by our sponsors, 888poker
The convention center at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino was filled almost to the brim with bracelet hunters as the first two of six starting flights for the $565 Colossus II No-Limit Hold'em drew more than 5,400 entries, putting the event on pace to match the record 22,374 entries the inaugural Colossus drew in 2015.
In the meantime, a Caesars Palace sports book employee ruled the Amazon Room roost, capturing the first WSOP bracelet of the summer in the Employees Event finale.
First Two Colossus II Flights Draw 5,402
The first of six starting flights for Event #2: $565 Colossus II No-Limit Hold'em drew 3,249 players to the Rio on Thursday morning.
By the time the scheduled 18 levels were through, just 121 players remained with David Polop in the lead on a stack of over 500,000 chips.
A change to the payouts in this year's event will see 15 percent of each Colossus flight make the money before the opening flights are through, which meant the top 488 players in this first flight would cash.
2009 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Cada and two-time 2015 WSOP bracelet winner Max Pescatori were among those who busted in the money in this flight.
2007 World Series of Poker Europe champ Annette Obrestad, 2009 World Series of Poker Europe champ Barry Shulman and defending Colossus champ Cord Garcia were not so lucky, busting before the bubble burst.
In the meantime, popular pros including Max Silver, Dan O'Brien, Maria Ho, and John Monnette were among the group that bagged healthy stacks heading into Sunday's Day 2.
The 4 p.m. flight drew 2,153 entries, with the top 323 players making the money.
Garcia went 0-for-2 busting out of this one as well, as did Cada, 2001 WSOP Main Event champion Carlos Mortensen and back-to-back 2016 WSOP Circuit Main Event winner Maurice Hawkins.
2004 WSOP Main Event champ Greg Raymer fired only this second flight, but it didn't work out for him either.
Survivors from this second flight, who are set to bag shortly after 2 a.m. local time, will join those from the other five in returning for Day 2 Sunday at 2 p.m.
CJ Sand Wins The 2016 WSOP Casino Employees Event
CJ Sand won Event #1: $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em at the WSOP Thursday, topping a field of 731 players for a prize of $75,157.
Official Final Table Results
|1||CJ Sand||La Habra, CA||$75,157|
|2||Kerryjane Craigie||Sevenoaks, U.K.||$46,420|
|3||Michael Coombs||Bremerton, WA||$32,259|
|4||Spencer Bennett||Sacramento, CA||$22,753|
|5||Brian Mikesh||Little Canada, MN||$16,308|
|6||Tom Ratanakul||Las Vegas, NV||$11,877|
|7||Nicholas Sliwinski||Las Vegas, NV||$8,792|
|8||Tiankang Xing||San Gabriel, CA||$6,616|
|9||Robert Ostler||San Diego, CA||$5,063|
The tournament featured a new format this year with a single re-entry allowed — in years past it had been a freezeout — and an overall faster structure in the early going.
The money was reached relatively early on Day 1, and some of the players among the 110 cashing included popular former WSOP dealer Shaun Harris (56th), last year's champ Brandon Barnette (55th), 2013 runner-up Allen Kwong (53rd), and RunGood patriarch Tana Karn (52nd).
Sand, who works as a ticket writer at the sports book in Caesars Palace, dedicated the win to his late mother, who taught him to play seven-card stud when he was 13 and was an avid player herself.
"That bracelet's for my mom up in heaven watching over me," he said. "Phil Hellmuth calls it white magic, but I had some magic from somewhere and I know where it came from."
What's On Tap for Today?
Friday will see the third and fourth of six flights for Event #2: $565 Colossus II No-Limit Hold'em go off at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. Players who bust out of any Colossus flight can always register for any future flights scheduled.