The first of 10 days in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event is in the books, and despite a smaller than usual turnout on Day 1A there’s an electricity and a sense of anticipation in the air at the Rio.
Sitting at the top of the chip counts after the first of three starting sessions is Swedish sensation Martin Jacobson, who ran away with the chiplead late in the night. Jacobson’s 200,100 puts him well ahead of the pack, including one-time chipleaders Aaron Wilt (157,650, second) and Mukul Pahuja (114,800, ninth), the reigning WPT Player of the Year. Naoya Kihara, the only Japanese player ever to win a WSOP bracelet, ended the night in fifth place, and Kenny Tran managed to bag a top 10 stack in his own right.
The top half of the chip counts have quite a few big names as Kevin MacPhee (17th), Johnny Chan (39th), Jonathan Taylor (60th), Ole Schemion (63rd), Layne Flack (65th), Chris Moneymaker (87th) and Matt Ashton (128th) among the many players who doubled their stack in five levels of play. By the close of registration at the start of Level 4, 771 players had registered – and 505 of them bagged up chips at the end of the night.
Greg Merson and Ryan Riess drew the same table to begin the day, which was on the Main Stage, and the last two WSOP Main Event champions both managed to fight their way through a rotating cast of players to advance to Day 2. Riess is a little better for the wear, taking 70,225 into Tuesday while Merson has some work to do with just 7,125. The pair seemed to enjoy the bizarre set of circumstances that placed them at the same table, and they’ve forged a friendship over a very rare shared experience.
“We’ve talked quite a bit, and he was actually on my rail at the final table,” said Riess of Merson. “We’ve become friends, and he actually said one time that we were like fraternity brothers, which I thought was kind of cool. I never really thought about it [like that], but it’s true.”
Even with a strong start to his title defense on Saturday, Riess is being very pragmatic in his approach to this year’s Main Event.
“I was talking to some friends that have actually never played this before, and I told them they’re not going to win it today, not going to win it on Day 2 or Day 3 – you’re not going to win it until November. Just taking it one day at a time, one level at a time and one hand a time.”
Even with just under 12 big blinds going into Day 2, Merson is far better off than 266 unfortunate souls who saw their Main Event dreams crushed on the first day of the tournament. Merson’s fellow 2012 November Niner Steve Gee was denied a third deep run in a row, and he was joined in an early exit by Jason Mercier, Eric Froelich, BLUFF POY contender Mustapha Kanit, Jean-Robert Bellande, Jeff Gross, Phil Laak and Chamath Palihapitiya, among many others. 2013 November Niners David Benefield and Marc-Etienne McLaughlin also failed to make it out of Day 1.
The 505 players who advanced to Day 2 on Saturday will play on Day 2A Tuesday. The second of three Main Event sessions starts the whole process over again at 12 pm Sunday afternoon.
2014 WSOP Main Event – End of Day 1A Chip Counts
- Martin Jacobson – 200,100
- Aaron Wilt – 157,650
- Seamus Cahill – 150,775
- Benjamin Gold – 144,875
- Naoya Kihara – 124,225
- Ken Einiger – 120,400
- Yung Hwang – 118,875
- Kenny Tran – 115,400
- Mukul Pahuja – 114,800
- Aleksandr Simic – 110,675
$10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship
After a tense back-and-forth heads-up match where both players were very deep-stacked for that point in the tournament, Pat Walsh outlasted Javed Abrahams to win the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship, his first bracelet and $923,379. The last $10,000 prelim had a final table that also featured Isaac Baron (fourth) and Matt Marafioti (sixth).
$1,111 Little One for One Drop
The final preliminary event will be the last to award a bracelet, with the last nine players returning for the fourth and final day of the Little One for One Drop. What was a field of 102 players to start the day was quickly whittled down in a day filled with mad rushes and stacks that rose and crumbled in short order. Jackduyph Duong leads going into Sunday’s final table, but the stacks are bunched up at the very top. Less than one big blind separates Duong and Eric Baldwin in second place, as the Wisconsin native and long-time Las Vegas resident looks for his second career bracelet.
It was a crazy day for Baldwin, who got the better of Maurice Hawkins in several massive pots, cracking pocket aces with pocket sevens early and then winning a massive three-way all in pot with A K to Hawkins’ A K. Baldwin eventually finished the job and sent Hawkins out in 12th place in a coinflip that was somehow just as painful – Hawkins’ A Q spiked top pair on an A K 6 flop, only for Baldwin’s J J to make a flush on the turn.
This summer has been a much different one than Baldwin’s 2013 WSOP campaign, when he ripped off a second place finish in the first week. After managing just three cashes all summer, Baldwin has the potential to make his summer and thensome.
“It’s pretty silly, really,” said Baldwin. “Last shot before the Main Event, and it’s been a struggle this summer. To run up a pile of chips and make this final table is kind of absurd.”
Baldwin has the potential of a ridiculous stretch on his hands; after playing four straight days and final tabling the Little One for One Drop, Baldwin will hop right into the Main Event the very next day and try to play for seven more days in a row.
“This is totally just a warm-up for the Main Event,” joked Baldwin. “Big field, wide variety of players. I figured it’d be a nice warm-up, and I was having a rough summer, so I figured I’d make this final table because I needed that extra practice before I play the Main.”
Also highlighting the ‘Little One’ final table is Matthew Lapossie, who won the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event back in February. Lapossie, Baldwin, Duong and the other six players remaining in the hunt for the final bracelet awarded this summer are also playing for a potentially life-changing $637,539 first place prize in this $1,111 event.
It wasn’t such a bright day for 93 others who saw their tournaments come to an end on Day 3, including James Woods (93rd), Leo Wolpert (84th), Tony Cousineau (81st), David Paredes (53rd), Salvatore Bonavena (45th) and Brett Shaffer (23rd). Kevin Eyster, who was looking for his second final table and potentially his second bracelet in a massive No Limit Hold’em field this summer saw his last few chips taken when his A 7 failed to catch up to A J, resulting in a 10th place finish.
The final table will resume at 1 pm PST, and the action will be live-streamed with hole cards starting at approximately 1:30 pm.
$1,111 Little One for One Drop – Final Table Chip Counts
- Jackduyph Duong – 3,180,000
- Eric Baldwin – 3,140,000
- Vimy Ha – 2,825,000
- Shai Zurr – 2,265,000
- Brandon Eisen – 2,155,000
- Matthew Lapossie – 1,960,000
- Theodore Driscoll – 1,100,000
- Igor Dubinskyy – 770,000
- Bao Nguyen – 585,000
Day 1B of the Main Event begins at 12 pm PST Sunday, with registration open until the start of Level 4. Day 1C is set for the same time on Monday, and a potentially record-breaking single-day turnout is expected… Sunday is the last full day of multi-table satellites for the 2014 Main Event, with $550 buy-in events at 10 am and 4 pm, a $1,060 buy-in satellite at 1 pm and a $2,080 satellite at 8 pm. There’s a last chance turbo satellite on Monday morning at 8 am for Day 1C.
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