Despite the large tournament room here at Atlantis, Day 1 of the tournament has been divided into two separate heats to accommodate the multitude of players. With half the field playing today and the other half tomorrow, the tournament staff predicts we'll be down to the final 450 or so by Day 2.
Almost as entertaining as the event itself, though, is the resort where the tournament is taking place. Atlantis, a sprawling development of hotel towers, beaches, swimming pools and marine habitats, is as opulent as anything I've ever seen.
As much aquarium as resort, you can swim with the dolphins, eat dinner while observing schools of fish darting about and float through a transparent underwater tunnel that snakes its way through the shark tank, all things which I will be taking advantage of on my time off.
Front and center at this event is Team PokerStars. The trio of world champions, Joe Hachem, Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer are all in attendance, although they'll be playing in tomorrow's heat. Representing Canada is Daniel Negreanu, who will also hit the felt tomorrow.
Full Tilt Poker's team, the group that usually dominates the WPT and other big buy-in events, was missing with only David Singer present here today. Most of the Full Tilters are probably getting ready for the Aussie Millions main event which will begin next week.
Moneymaker had a chance to bolster his reputation here today but was unable to make any headway, getting eliminated about halfway through the day. Hachem, fresh off his win at the last WPT event at Bellagio is looking to go back to back before heading home to his native Australia in a few short days.
I had a chance to sit down and talk with Joe today about what we can expect in Melbourne next week. He was nothing if not optimistic. As spokesperson for Crown Casino, the venue which has held the Aussie Millions for a number of years, I guess he could be expected to talk it up, but nonetheless, if half of what he said about the Crown is true we're in for quite a time.
Be sure to tune in for this event which begins on Jan. 14. I'll be there in force to bring you full coverage of what is sure to be an exciting tourney.
We saw a field today on Day 1a that was heavily dominated by internet qualifiers. Although not an unusual occurrence at big buy-in events these days, after seeing just part if this destination, it's not hard to understand why there might be a little added incentive to winning a free trip here by satelliting in online.
As it happens, the World Poker Tour event is not the only poker tournament being played here this week. The winner of the PokerStars.com Moneymaker Million will also be decided. The final 27 players in the online event were flown down and will begin battling their way to a final table of their own tomorrow.
As the chip counts stand right now we have quite a few big names on top. Vanessa Rousso has been running well all day. After laying a bit of a bad beat on the Scandinavian Thomas Wahlroos, eliminating him from the event, she has managed to amass quite stack.
Also in the hunt is the lone Full Tilt Pro David Singer who has been flying under the radar for most of the day but has nonetheless put himself in the top five as day 1a wraps up.
Last year's PCA winner, Steve Paul-Ambrose, has also had a good day, getting himself into the top ten. We have an interview scheduled with him tomorrow morning so tune in and find out how he feels about being the returning champion and the possibility of back to back PCA titles.
Tomorrow's action starts at noon (EST) when the other half of the field will sit down and see who will survive to make it to Day 2. From the Bahamas this is Matt Showell.