The North American Poker Tour made its official return to the United States today with Day 1 of the $5,000 Main Event at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The tour may be back Stateside, but it did see a significant drop in attendance with 387 runners compared to last year’s field of 719. Many blame the crowded tournament calendar for the decline, as WPT, WSOP-C, and NAPT events are all running concurrently.
The prize pool of $1,764,330 will be distributed to 56 players with the last player with chips taking down a $450,000 first place prize. Players will have a couple of chances to earn some television time in front of the ESPN cameras: The Main Event final table scheduled for April 13th and the $10,000 Bounty Shootout running April 12th and 14th.
Several big names busted out on Day 1, which means they still have time to get to St. Louis for the WSOP-C or Indiana for the WPT should they see fit. Those players include Team PokerStars pros David Williams, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein along with Kathy Liebert, Jonathan Aguiar, Dan Heimiller, Chau Giang, Erick Lindgren and Tim West.
One player in particular stood out in today’s field and that man was Carlos Mortensen. Even though Mortensen is the reigning champion of the WPT’s Hollywood Poker Open in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, he opted to skip the WPT event and play the NAPT instead. The decision has worked out for Mortensen so far, as he finished the day near the top of the standings with 107,400 in chips. WSOP Main Event winners Joe Cada and Jonathan Duhamel also survived the day, although both come back with less than their starting stack of 30,000 chips.
The chip leader at the end of Day 1 is veteran tournament grinder Chris Tryba, finishing the day with over 170,000 in chips. Tryba was involved in the biggest hand of the tournament, rivering the nut flush against the flopped sets of Eugene Katchalov and Mehrdad Yousefzadeh, tripling up to take the chip lead as play neared an end.
Defending champion Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst is looking to go back-to-back, ending her day near the top of the leaderboard with 87,600 in chips. NAPT Los Angeles winner Joe Tehan didn’t fare as well as Selbst, but comes back with 47,900 in chips. Among the players from Team PokerStars Pro who return with chips: Vanessa Rousso, Victor Ramdin, and Pat Pezzin. East Coast regulars Bernard Lee, Mike Sica, Dan Shak, Todd Terry and Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy will also be in the Day 2 field when play resumes at 12pm Sunday.
The smaller than expected field meant play ended for the day after eight levels instead of the scheduled ten. There will be 230 players returning for another six levels of play on Sunday. Here are the top ten chip counts from the end of Day 1. Come back Sunday evening to BluffMagazine.com for an update after the day’s tournament action as the field moves closer to determining a winner.
1. Chris Tryba – 173,400
2. Jerry Wong – 165,000
3. Aaron Mermelstein – 147,500
4. Mehrdad Yousefzadeh – 131,700
5. Sean Ripp – 128,700
6. Vanessa Rousso – 125,800
7. Joseph Gibbons – 125,400
8. Victor Ramdin – 123,100
9. Adam Junglen – 117,600
10. Greg Ostrander – 116,000
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