A field of 560 players turned out for this shindig, breaking last year's total and guaranteeing an even bigger prize pool. Each and every player's $10K has combined, using the power of Voltron, to make a total purse of $5,432,000. First place will take a healthy $1,575,280, one of the larger scores on the tour, with the rest being divvied up between the other 53 players who make it into the money.
For a full rundown of the payout structure simply click through to our page bearing the obvious name.
With the World Series of Poker Europe winding down and no other major tournaments happening at the moment, almost every professional of note could be found in the tournament room today. With such a large venue in which to play there was no need for multiple Day 1s, so we saw all 560 take their seats at the same time.
As is the case in most World Poker Tour events these days, the field contained a mix of local amateurs and big buy-in tournament regulars. Unlike its West Coast counterparts though, this event got started at the ungodly hour of 11 a.m., hours before any self-respecting poker player would be seen out of bed.
One advantage of such a schedule was that we were able to play a reasonable number of levels and still be done before midnight, leaving plenty of time for a bit of relaxation before things get underway again tomorrow.
Kenna James, no stranger to the spotlight, got things started today with his inspired singing of this country's national anthem. Having spent his fair share of time in the entertainment business, Kenna approached the microphone with confidence and demonstrated his vocal prowess with unbridled enthusiasm.
Another aspect of this tournament that differed from most stops on the tour was the starting stack. In recent years many events have improved their structure with the introduction of enlarged chip stacks, with twice the buy-in becoming the norm. Here we saw players sit down in front of a $30,000 tower, an uncommon occurrence which was welcomed with open arms by the players.
Despite the deep stacks, it wasn't long before we saw the first player hit the rail. Two runners, both unknown to PL.com, saw a flop of T♦ 8♥ 7♥ with pocket tens for top set for one and J-9 for the flopped straight in the hands of the other. The blinds were $25/$50 remember, making the average stack equal to 600 big blinds, and yet all the money found its way into the middle.
A clash between two big hands is the only way someone could be knocked out with this many chips in front of them but it's always unfortunate to see the player with the better of two hands be forced to make his way to the rail. The turn was a meaningless 2♣ but the river brought the last ten in the deck. Not a true one-outer but painful nonetheless, making one player quads and sending another to an early exit.
As in most tournaments, there was more than one instance in which a bad beat made an appearance. Joe Sebok, for one, was sent to the rail after he failed to lay down pocket aces before the flop. It was such a bad spot to get his money in, against pocket kings, that a player of his caliber surely should have seen the king on the flop coming. Nevertheless, the set of cowboys sent him on his way early in Day 1.
Another wayward soul, Paul McCaffrey, made the mistake of getting his money in good not long after, pinning his hopes on top two against an overpair only to see his hand counterfeited on the turn.
Although PL.com didn't witness the hand as it happened, we ran into Mr. McCaffrey shortly after and he filled us in on how it went down. When reading, remember that Paul McCaffrey speaks in a melodic Irish lilt that lends more animation to his words than may come across on this computer screen.
It seems he called a pre-flop raise while holding Q-9, putting his opponent on a big hand, kings or aces. The flop came Q-9-2, giving McCaffrey top two and he put in a bet.
His opponent then moved in, a huge overbet considering the deep starting stacks. McCaffrey tanked and eventually went with his original read, making the call. He saw he was right when his opponent turned over pocket kings, leaving Paul in great shape to double through.
The turn was a deuce though, pairing the board and leaving McCaffrey in bad shape. The river added insult to injury, bringing another king. Left close to the felt and warding off PokerListings.com photographers due to his stack deficit, he was sent to the rail not long after.
In almost any poker tournament you will see untold players ejected from the room at the hands of sick bad beats, and other players necessarily sitting with big stacks as a result. Because of this, the texture of the event is hard to discern in the early stages.
Most of these early chip leaders will not be making an appearance at the final table, and in many cases they won't even make it to the money. Conversely, some good players who may be around the middle of the pack, or even short-stacked at this point, will be making a run at the top six spots.
Tomorrow we'll learn more as the blinds continue to rise and at least a little bit of the luck gets evened out by extended play. There are still plenty of pros left in the mix, countered by a healthy serving of newcomers, which will ensure that the later stages of this event will be worthy of your attention. Join us tomorrow for Day 2 of this year's Borgata Poker Open.