Playin' in the USA: Why some players opted for WSOP Main Event Day 1B

Mary Jo Zogman
Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: July 04, 2023 13:27 PDT

It's the Fourth of July, the most American of US holidays, and it's also Day 1B of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event. There are four starting days this year, as there were in 2022, and the last of the four flights, Day 1B, always has by far the largest attendance, for both logistic and strategic reasons.

Still, not everyone wants to play in the madhouse that usually occurs on the final Main Event opening day. But why do some players opt for a less crowded, perhaps more relaxed atmosphere?

PokerOrg wandered the Day 1B tables during the evening hours to find out exactly why people chose this day out of the four. The first stop, not far from the Horseshoe Event Center feature tables, was with Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman (pictured above), a former Heartland Poker Tour Player of the Year. "Because it's the Fourth of July," said Belcore-Zogman. "And I want to win on the Fourth of July."

Mary Jo and her husband Dan, another frequent Main Event player, made a joint decision. "We talked about it. We didn't want to play on the first day and then have such a long wait for the next day. That's what Dan did too, last year," though Dan Zogman's luck ran bad this day, as he busted out of the Main earlier in the action.

A couple of tables away from Belcore-Zogman sat rising star Angela Jordison, and it was about the Fourth for her as well. "Last year I played on the Fourth of July and ran deep, and so I'm really superstitious. I guess I want a repeat of last year. And that's why I'm here."

It seemed like the right time to check with an international player, and a few more tables away sat Dietrich Fast, who'd already amassed a stack of 140,000 on the day. It was more a spur-of-the-moment choice for the German star. "I slept very good last night, and that was one of the factors. I had a good sleep, I felt well-rested, and that's why I decided to play 1B."

Still, personal preferences seemed to be trumping deep and serious poker-strategy considerations. Dietrich also wanted us to know that his favorite color is yellow.

In desperation, we fled to the adjacent Horseshoe Grand Ballroom, where a scan of a few tables turned up the usually very dry and serious Ike Haxton. Surely Ike would have a detailed, exquisitely calculated take. But the table chatter is being run by Florida's Farhad Jamasi, whose nickname is either "Freddy the Fish" or "Daddy" depending on the age of who's doing the asking.

Jamasi's been complaining to everyone within earshot about the same players always appearing at the live-streamed feature tables, and he's getting plenty of chuckles and laughs from his tablemates. Farhad does have a strategy about playing Day 1B, however. "If I bag, I'll have two days off to relax, to get ready for Day 2." Jamasi has played the Main Event several times, and he's made two deep runs as well.

Then it's Haxton's turn. Serious, not so much... "A great way to get out of going to Fourth of July parties," he half-quips. But we're not letting him go that easy. So he adds, "I also didn't want to play 1D and have to play 10-handed, I guess."

So there you have it. We heard plenty of reasons why players chose to play on the Fourth of July, with plenty of laughs tossed in as well. It's a lighthearted Main Event day.