What Exactly is a Main Event Day 1 Big Stack Worth?

Ronnie Pease finished Day 1C as one of the chipleaders but that's no guarantee of success. (Drew Amato photo)

Ronnie Pease finished Day 1C as one of the chipleaders but that’s no guarantee of success. (Drew Amato photo)

Everybody who plays the WSOP Main Event always has it in their head that they’re going to play great poker, run up a big stack early and coast to a handsome payday. That’s not exactly reality though.

Using all of the available data as possible for Day 1 big stacks in the Main Event, which goes back to 2008, it would appear that you’re only a slight favorite to even make the money and if a big score of at least $100,000 is what you’re after, you’re going to be disappointed.

Counting the top five chip stacks from each starting flight between 2008 and 2013 gives us a group 110 players to use as our base group here.

Surely you’re a lock to cash, right?

Not so fast. Since 2008, 45.45% of the players who crushed Day 1 went on to bust out without cashing.┬áThe worst year in that group was 2009 when 13 of the 20 big stacks didn’t get to cash including Troy Weber who amassed an end-of-day stack of 353,000 on Day 1, that’s the single largest Day 1 chip stack in recent WSOP history.

Most of the November Niners come from Day 1 leaders though, right?

Only four of the 54 players who made the final table between 2008 and 2013 were able to build a big stack early and ride that momentum to the November Nine. Michael Mizrachi, Filippo Candio and Ben Lamb all pulled it off as did 2009 Main Event champ Joe Cada who actually finished Day 1C in 2009 as the overall chip leader.

Okay, so maybe no final table but what’s it worth in dollars to have a good start?

Without adjusting for the huge scores of Cada and the other November Niners in this group, the total winnings for the 60 players who cashed is $21,673,236 – an average haul of $197,029.42 each. But let’s be realistic, Cada’s score accounts for nearly 40% of that $21.67 million. Take out the four players who final tabled and you get a little bit more realistic look.

Those four players combined to earn $17,993,720, leaving $3,678,516 won by the other 56 players. That makes a top five Day stack theoretically worth $34,712.42.

What about other big scores?

We’ve already talked about how much the November Niners won but they weren’t the only players to leave the WSOP with the help of a really good tax attorney. Five players, or 4.4% of the group, ended up with a five-figure score. Topping that list was Nick Maimone who won $633,022 in 2009 for his 15th place finish.

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Lance Bradley

Editor in Chief at BLUFF.com
Editor in Chief: Lance Bradley began working with BLUFF in March 2008 and was named Editor in Chief in August 2009. Prior to joining BLUFF Bradley launched an independent poker blog, ThePokerBiz.com in 2006. Before entering the world of poker media he was the Poker Room Manager for Bodog from January 2004 until June 2006. He graduated from the Applied Journalism program Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver, Canada.
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