In fairness to the Canucks, temperatures as play got under way in the Fallsview Casino and Resort overlooking majestic Horseshoe Falls hovered around 18° Celsius (64° Fahrenheit) and the weather was gloriously sunny.
It was a great day to stand outside and appreciate the natural wonders of the region, but for 125 poker players it was a great day to plunk down $10,000 hard-earned Canadian dollars ($8,524.42 Fahrenheit - er, USD) and Jonathan Little in heads-up play to add another $1,361,724 to his bankroll and another chapter to the legend of the most intensest stare since Brandon Adams finally blinked.
This year's event should see a field size in the 400-500 range with a busy September and the high-profile Festa al Lago preliminary events at Bellagio combining with already downward-trending enrollment rates across the World Poker Tour to produce a manageable and still reasonably healthy field that just won't break any records.
As mentioned, a total of 125 players showed up on the first of three Day 1's to contest for the title, including former champ Turkewitsch, Niagara Falls' own Nenad Medic, former T.D. March and a motley collection of other pros, among them Erik Seidel, Shaun Deeb, Joe Sebok, Robert Cheung and Cory Carroll.
The plan was to play five 90-minute levels, Bellagio-style, with each player starting with a remarkable $30,000 in chips as well as a player spread that included all the cookies they could shovel down their gullets.
The process will repeat itself with different faces on Saturday and Sunday before Monday's Day 2 unites the field into one conglomerate of powerful poker prowess.
Aside from a terrific deep-stacked structure, the NAPC is well-known for providing American underagers with a venue to test their live poker aspirations. The gambling age in Ontario is just 19, and this attracts many of North America's top young talent, with the likes of Kofi "redsoxsox" Farkye, Scott "sctrojans" Freeman and, this year, Annette Obrestad all cutting their teeth on the North American live tournament model at Fallsview.
Farkye final-tabled this event last year in a fearsome display of "repopping the live donks", but the outspoken and controversial youngster will not repeat the accomplishment in 2008. Farkye found himself crippled early with kings against a turned set of queens and would be eliminated shortly thereafter.
Elsewhere, Obrestad would find herself seated at a table with World Poker Tour icon J.C. Tran, who "runs really good", according to the young phenom - who knows a little something about running good herself.
Tran did indeed run good on Day 1a, taking pots early and often, including a hand with Obrestad that saw the 2005 WPT Player of the Year induce a fold from Annette15 with a well-timed three-bet on a J♥ 9♥ 7♥ 6♥ board.
Obrestad mucked queens in the hand that would start her downward spiral, and while Tran wound up the day at the top of the chip leaderboard, Obrestad would not survive the day, busting out on the final hand of the evening with her weak ace dominated by Roy Winston's A-J.
Meanwhile, Christian "charder" Harder was playing one of the more interesting hands of the day. The well-traveled online pro would see a flop come 5♣ 4♦ 3♣ while heads-up with Thomas Haidinger and bet out $3,525, only to see his effort raised to $8,000 by his adversary.
Undaunted, Harder fired out a $40,000 block of orange $1k chips and Haidinger appeared to tank for fully 15 minutes before finally realizing the action was on him and calling off the last of his stack. He'd flopped a straight with 6♦ 2♦ and Harder was on the draw with 6♣ 6♠, but after the board finished 9♣ T♣ Harder had hit runner-runner for the flush and Haidinger was out, while Harder was on a monster stack.
Other casualties on Day 1a included Shaun Deeb, Cory Carroll, Nenad Medic and Jason March, while Tran, Harder, Matt Matros and Joe Sebok made their way to the top of the chip leaderboard. All told, 78 survived Friday's carnage.
Action will resume at noon ET on Saturday with the second flight of champions-in-waiting taking to the felt for their own five levels of glory. As is our custom, PokerListings.com will be on scene throughout the day to provide our own twisted view of the proceedings. We invite you to follow along in the privacy of your own homes, although public consumption is also implicitly condoned.