The first clue came in a tweet by well-known professional poker player Daniel Negreanu on Sunday.
When superfans Mel and Pat Humphries were spotted Monday morning at the Rio Convention Center, that was all the confirmation needed.
Phil Ivey made his first appearance of the summer at the World Series of Poker, as he was part of the field on Day 1C of the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship.
The Main Event officially drew 6,737 entrants, the tournament’s largest field since 2011, and will award an $8 million first prize. Day 1C featured a record 4,240 players and included a mix of several top poker pros, celebrities and recreational players.
Timothy Sheehan of Decatur, Georgia, had the unofficial lead when play ended with 394,100 chips. Sheehan picked up most of his chips shortly before the final break of the night when he caught Ben Lamb bluffing and eliminated the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year.
That massive stack also gave Sheehan the overall tournament lead with almost 82,000 chips more than Day 1A leader Gary Sewell of Duarte, California.
Great Britain’s Ben Vinson (256,700) unofficially was in second place after Day 1C, followed by Michael Schneider (215,800) of Covington, Georgia.
The Main Event continues at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Rio with Day 2A/2B and runs through July 18. The final nine players return Oct. 30 for the final table at the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater.
Ivey, a 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, was unable to get much traction going and bagged up 26,100, slightly over half the 50,000-chip starting stack.
Defending Main Event champion Joe McKeehen was one of several notables in the field for the final starting flight and finished with 110,100 chips.
Other former Main Event winners to reach Day 2 include: Joe Cada (111,500), Ryan Reiss (82,700), Chris Moneymaker (61,700), Scotty Nguyen (60,400), Phil Hellmuth (45,200), Greg Merson (24,300), and Joe Hachem (24,900).
Among the notable survivors was Las Vegas resident Daniel Negreanu, who had a difficult day and finished with 18,600 chips. Fellow poker pros Joseph Cheong (198,600) and Fedor Holz (93,300) also were able to chip up.
Professional poker player Jason Mercier wasn’t as fortunate and was eliminated to end a memorable summer that saw him win two bracelets and also get engaged.
DAY 1C CHIP COUNTS (unofficial)
1, Timothy Sheehan (Decatur, Georgia) 394,100
2, Ben Vinson (Great Britain) 256,700
3, Michael Schneider (Covington, Georgia) 215,800
4, Brenden Rubie (Sydney, Australia) 211,200
5, Doug Kim (Hartsdale, New York) 208,200