James Martyn rides Kid Poker advice to PSC Bahamas Main Event Day 1A chip lead

January 08, 2017

This morning, James Martyn sat in on Daniel Negreanu’s Q&A and had a simple question. Why do some of the big name pros show up late and not start the day on time? Negreanu’s answer ended with some advice: the earlier you’re there, the more chips you can accumulate.

Today, Martyn accumulated the most in the field.

James Martyn-PCB2017-Monti-2088.jpg

James Martyn

Martyn might have the biggest stack, but he was competing against some of the brightest stars in the game today. There was a moment late on Day 1A when all those stars nearly collided in the middle of the Main Event field. If there had been a spotlight, it wouldn’t have been big enough.

Right in the center of the room, Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul stood chatting with poker’s most famous man, Daniel Negreanu. It was a vortex of star power that only grew bigger when Jason Koon walked by to accept Negreanu’s congratulations. Why? Because Koon had just won $1.65 million in the $100,000 Super High Roller. Even Paul was impressed.

Drawing 229 players Day 1A was packed with big money players, including Koon and $100,00 runner-up Charlie Carrell who both registered immediately after finishing their heads-up match. It was hard to find a table without a famous face on it. Even actor/comedian Kevin Hart played for a while before going bust.

Kevin Hart-PCB2017-Monti-1736.jpg

Kevin Hart

Among them all was a man who stole the chip lead at the last. Martyn, not too long after doubling up with aces versus Andrey Zaichenko, finished with the chip lead: 197,400.

James Martyn-PCB2017-Monti-2098.jpg

While the stars did shine bright, few were brighter than the smile and endearing spirit of Morris Dadoun, an 84-year-old qualifier from Canada who made friends at every table he visited (and then busted more than a few of them). Knocking out pro golfer Sergio Garcia and more than a few others, Dadoun seemed to have little trouble with the 12-hour day and finished with a 112,800 stack.

Sergio Garcia and Morris Dadoun_ME_8JAN17

Sergio Garcia and Morris Dadoun

Here are some other notable stacks as the day comes to a close.

Bradley Marsh – 173,200
Andre Crooks: 160,000
Alan Schein – 140,100
Dan Colman – 132,000
Nick Petrangelo – 109,000
Jason Mercier – 92,700
Cliff Jospehy – 87,100
Mustapha Kanit – 84,600
Byron Kaverman – 82,800
Mike McDonald – 59,600
Stephen Chidwick – 53,800
Daniel Negreanu – 58,200

Here’s the full list of Day 1A chip counts.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the action all day long, you can scroll down to see some of the fun from the day in our live updates archive.

We’ll be back here bright and early at 11am with the kickoff of what should be a much bigger Day 1B. We’ll also be starting coverage of the $50,000 Single Day High Roller at 12pm.

See you then. –BW

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Day 1A coverage archive

10:47pm: Five more hands
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Each player will get five more hands before bagging and tagging for the night. We’ll be back with a wrap up in just a few minutes. –BW

10:47pm: Baumann ends the day well
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Arguably the best way to end the day is with a big pot that puts you among the chip leaders. In which case Gaelle Baumann looks set to end the day well.

She just sent Pouliot Serge to the rail. They’d seen a Q♥10♣J♥ flop which Pouliot checked to Baumann who bet 10,000. Pouliot called that for the 3♥ turn which again he checked to Baumann. She paused for a few moments but then put her last 28,000 into the middle.

This made Pouliot squirm a little. He had pocket kings, but was staring at a scary looking board. In the end he couldn’t help himself, and he called all in.

Pouliot: [kx][kx]
Baumann: A♣K♦

Baumann had flopped the straight and was now getting paid off. Baumann up to 110,000 as we reach the last five hands of the day. – SB

10:40pm: Janian breaks the McDonald stare
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

“I’m gonna crack a smile, OK?” said Hrair Janian to Mike McDonald. He was referring to the Mike McDonald stare down he was currently receiving, before starting to laugh, which also led to McDonald having a chuckle. After the funny business, it was back to business, and McDonald bet 1,600 on the 10♦6♠J♣ flop. Janian called.

The turn came the K♠ and it went check, bet 4,000 call, taking them to the 4♥ river. Janian checked again, and this time McDonald checked it back. Janian turned over the Q♠9♦ for a turned straight and that was clearly good as McDonald mucked.

“Oh man, we don’t get to see the check-raise on the river!” moaned tablemate Byron Kaverman. –JS

10:30pm: Crooks takes Aido’s chips
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Andre Crooks is your new chip leader, having just won a huge pot that saw Sergio Aido hit the rail.

Crooks opened it up to 2,200 in the hijack only for Aido to bump it up with a three-bet to 8,000 on the button. Back to Crooks, he made a huge raise, so big we don’t even know how much it was. There was just a scattering of blue chips in front him.

Aido then announced “all-in” and Crooks obviously called.

Aido – Q♣Q♦
Crooks – A♥K♣

Yep; it was that most classic of classic races. El classico if you will. The 5♥4♥7♦ flop kept Aido in front, but the K♠ turn changed everything, and Aido couldn’t recover on the 7♠ river. He’s out, while Crooks now has around 180,000. –JS

10:25pm: Whose the Dadoun?!
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Morris Dadoun has done it again. This time it was Zana Azad Ali who moved all-in for his last 6,700 with J♦10♠. Dadoun, waiting quietly, asked how much and then called, turning over 7♠A♠.

So far today the script has been the same for anyone taking on Dadoun. This time it was no different. The board ran 5♥8♣10♥A♣Q♠ to send Ali out and leave Dadoun with 96,000. – SB

10:15pm: Let Alan Schein
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

With less than an hour left to play today Alan Schein looks close to the lead with 125,000. Also in contention are Bradley Marsh with 110,000 and Adrian Mateos with 100,000. There will be others and we’ll have details of them when chip counts are made available at the end of play. – SB

10:05pm: Natasha Mercier headed for the rail
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Natasha Mercier (nee Barbour) is out of the Main Event. After Ema Zajmovic opened for 2,000 Mercier shoved for 33,000 with ace-six and Zajmovic called with pocket sevens. They held. — SB

10:00pm: Double up to Tollerene
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Ben Tollerene managed to find a perfect spot to get a double up in the last level of the day. After a 1,700 open, he jammed his last 22,000 with the A♦K♣ and was called by A♥10♠. The board ran out 7♦K♦3♠5♣8♣ and that gave his big slick the win. –JS

9:55pm: Room for a $100K champ?
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Fresh from his $1.65 million win in the $100K super high roller just a few hours ago, Jason Koon has now hopped in the main event late. His reason? He wants to be free to play the $50K single day high roller tomorrow, of course.

As Koon walked in, Daniel Negreanu (who was chatting to Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul), shouted congratulations and Koon walked over for a high five. As Koon walked away, Negreanu told Paul that “that guy just won a $100K tournament for $1.65 million. Not bad for a few days work.”

The look on Paul’s face? Priceless. You could be average Joe Bloggs or a big Hollywood TV and film star, but $1.65 million is a lotta dough. –JS

9:51pm: Wait! I know that voice
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

Just now as I was walking through the Main Event field, I heard a voice with which I’ve spent many an hour. It was almost like hearing a long lost relative speak. The voice came from underneath a dark hoodie that was positioned next to Daniel Negreanu’s table.

Who’s that under the hoodie? It’s Mr. Aaron Paul, acting genius and, from what we hear, Day 1B Main Event player. –BW

9:50pm: How do millionaires party?
Level 8 – Blinds 400/800 (100 ante)

It’s been a short run in the Main Event for Charlie Carrel. The young Brit finished second in the $100K for $1.15 million earlier today, and hopped into this tournament after the dinner break. However, his seat is now vacant, meaning he couldn’t survive his first level.

You might think that Carrel is now off to party and spend some of his winnings. But after the high roller finished he put on his Facebook that he was celebrating with still water and vegan cake. He’d have to buy a heck of a lot of cake for it to be seen as a celebratory splurge.

You’ll be seeing Carrel in the $50K single day High Roller tomorrow, you can bet on that. –JS

9:46pm: Dadoun continues to out-nice the opposition
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Morris Dadoun was in action again. It’s becoming clear that one of his biggest strengths is his amiable nature.

On a flop of 4♣8♣3♦ Lauri Varonen bet 2,100 which Dadoun called the 7♥ turn card. It was at this point that Varonen moved all-in for 11,700, a figure the said out loud before tidying up his I.D. card.

Dadoun, popular with everyone, looked at Varonen in the seat next to him.

“I don’t wanna eat you up,” he said, his stack of nearly 100,000 far bigger than that of his young opponent. So he came up with another plan.

Usually when a player asks if an opponent will show their cards if they fold, it’s met with stony silence, or with something said that makes decoding intentions almost impossible. But like we said, one of Dadoun’s great strengths is the genial nature he beings with him.

So when he asked Varonen “IF I fold will you show?” it seemed impolite not to. So he replied “yes.”

At which point Dadoun immediately folded and Varonen immediately showed 10♣Q♣.

“It’s okay,” said Dadoun to Varonen. “You played good.” – SB

9:30pm: Laaking about
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

The man formerly known as the Unabomber, Phil Laak, has made an appearance here tonight, sans hoodie. He’s having a nose around the TV set, peeking behind curtains at the setup, and chatting away with some players, notably Jessica Dawley. Will he play tomorrow? Most likely. –JS

9:26pm: James Martyn breathing again
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

It might take a few more hands for James Martyn’s breathing to return to normal. But he just doubled up with aces – it’s entirely normal.

It came against Russian pro Andrey Zaichenko. Martyn, easy to pick out for his Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, had opened for 1,400, which Zaichenko raised to 4,200. With the action back on him Martyn bumped it up to 13,500 prompting Zaichenko to ask how much Martyn had left. Content he announced all-in, which Martyn, prior to holding his breath, called.

Martyn: A♣A♠
Zaichenko: K♣10♦

The board came 8♣2♣10♣6♠5♦. No harm to Martyn who doubled up to around 87,000. Zaichenko though drops to 35,000. – SB

9:13pm: Kanit the cause for the clock
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Mustapha Kanit is a hard player to figure out; it can often take minutes to come to a decision when in a hand against him, but those are minutes that shorter stacked players can’t spare.

In this one, Kanit min-opened to 1,200 but was three-bet to 4,200 by Likith Govindaiah. Back to the Italian no.1, he called and they saw a 7♥5♠3♠ flop. Kanit checked it and let Govindaiah continue for 3,400, only for Kanit to then check-raise to 10,700.

Here’s where Govindaiah got stumped. He didn’t know what to do, and with 20,000 behind went deep into the tank. A few minutes went by before the short-stacked Sergi Reixach apologised before calling the clock. That seemed to help Govindaiah though, as he instantly decided to fold his hand. –JS

9:11pm: Three hands, but no showdowns
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Three hands that showed early promise only to peter out. The first was one by David Peters. On a four way flop of 6♥3♥Q♦ It was checked through Peters in the small blind, Christoph Vogelsang in the big blind, and two others before Peter’s bet on the J♥ turn took the pot without any resistance.

Jason Mercier won a pot by betting at it on the flop. Meanwhile Daniel Negreanu was doing the same on the turn.

With a board of K♠4♣10♦ Negreanu had been happy to call the bet of 2,000 for the 7♦, at which point he bet 3,500 to win the pot without further action.

“Best hand all the time,” said Negreanu. – SB

8:57pm: The old guys
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

It didn’t take long for Morris Dadoun to make a bunch of new friends at his new table. He seems to be making everyone smile here today.

After Dadoun folded a hand to a young opponent, Daniel Negreanu told him: “These young guys play different to us old guys.”

Dadoun then said something about Negreanu being young.

“Nuh-uh, I’m 64 in July!” he joked, before proceeding to guess Dadoun’s age.

“72?” he asked.

“Keep going!” Dadoun replied.


“Above 80.”

“Wow, you’re over 80?! 82? You got me doubled, I’m 42.” –JS

Morris Dadoun-PCB2017-Monti-1664.jpg

Morris Dadoun

8:53pm: Mateos doubles
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

I think it’s fair to say that Thad McNulty had no idea what was coming. He’d looked over at Adrian Mateos’s stack, pointed at it – the familiar preliminary used in preparation for an attack – and moved all in. He looked pretty confident, right up to the point where he turned over pocket aces. It was round about then that everything went badly wrong.

The hand had started with some betting pre-flop, which Mateos called for the 2♥4♣J♥ flop. Then he check called McNulty’s bet of 7,000 for the 7♥ turn. Mateos checked again. McNulty figured his aces were still pretty good. So he shoved.

What he didn’t know was that Mateos had jacks and had just flopped a set. So for the Spaniard it was an easy call, which he made. He watched McNulty turn over his hand, and then heard McNulty. “Wow.”

McNulty stood, which lent dignity to the situation, and waited to see if the river could get him out of trouble. It didn’t.

A double up for Mateos, who now has around 120,000. McNulty meanwhile, still a little shell shocked, drops to 36,000. – SB

8:52pm: Dinner time for Kurganov
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Igor Kurganov might have let this one go just because he was hungry…you’ll see what we mean.

He opened a pot to 1,300 and got four callers: Daniel Koop, Govert Metaal, and David Olshan in the big blind. The flop came 10♦2♦5♠ and it checked to Kurganov who put out a 3,000 c-bet. Koop then bumped that up to 7,600, and Metaal and Olshan got out of the way.

The action was on Kurganov when, in the distance, Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree started walking to her boyfriend’s table with a plate of food. Kurganov quickly folded soon after, and began to tuck in to his dinner. He has around 48,000 to play with, while Koop has 32,000. –JS

8:40pm: Movers and shakers
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

In what seems likely to be a match made in poker blogging heaven, the wiley old timer Morris Dadoun (an 84-year-old online qualifier) has been moved to Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu’s table.

Meanwhile, Dan Colman and Charlie Carrel (who finished third and second respectively in the $100K not too long ago) have both hopped in this thing. Carrel was busy sizing up his tablemates; as we walked past, he was heard saying: “Let me guess…online reg?” –JS

8:25pm: Back to business
Level 7 – Blinds 300/600 (100 ante)

Players have returned for the final two levels of the day. –JS

7:05pm: Dinner break

With two levels left to play in the night, the remaining players are about to go on their dinner break. They will be back in action at 8:30pm ET. –BW

7:00pm: Dadoun still going strong
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Sean Winter is out. There’s no other way to say it really. Meanwhile Morris Dadoun is very much still in, and on his way to a new table. On arrival he greeted everyone at his table before asking the dealer his name and shaking his hand. Then he offered people some of the cookie he bought. As well as that he still has around 100,000. – SB

6:52pm: Chip counts
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (50 ante)

Here’s a look at how some of the large stacks and notable names are fairing right now:

Morris Dadoun – 95,000
Nick Petrangelo – 90,000
Christoph Vogelsang – 75,000
Robert Mizrachi – 71,000
Mike McDonald – 62,000
Gaelle Baumann – 56,000
Stephen Chidwick – 52,500
Adrian Mateos – 50,000
Igor Kurganov – 50,000
Jason Mercier – 48,000 (Team PokerStars Pro)
David Peters – 46,000
Dan Shak – 46,000
Daniel Negreanu – 35,000 (Team PokerStars Pro)
Ben Tollerene – 31,000
Jessica Dawley – 30,000
Ben Heath – 28,000
Justin Bonomo – 25,000
Ivan Luca – 22,000
Cliff Josephy – 20,000
Ramin Hajiyev – 20,000
Sylvain Loosli – 18,000
Mustapha Kanit – 17,000
Paul Newey – 12,000

Meanwhile, Jessica Dawley has just eliminated Olivier Busquet. –JS

6:41pm: A hand where very little happens
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

These hands ought to be reported if only to raise awareness of this terrible condition.

Robert Mizrachi opened for 1,100 in middle position, which was called by Bulat Bikmetov, Valentin Apostal and Sergui Prodan.

The flop came J♠J♥J♦

Prodan checked, Mizrachi checked, Bikmetov checked and Apostal checked.

The turn came A♦

Prodan checked, Mizrachi checked, Bikmetov checked and Apostal checked.

The river came K♠

Prodan checked, Mizrachi checked, Bikmetov checked and Apostal checked.

There was more caginess when it came to showing hands. Eventually Bikmetov turned over K♣Q♥ and the others grudgingly surrendered. – SB

6:31: Walk of shame
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (50 ante)

Meanwhile, ElkY’s walk of shame had a surprising turn in the hallway. –BW

6:31: A look around the room
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (50 ante)

With 45 minutes left on the clock before players take an 80-minute dinner break, here are a few of the goings on.

Ben Heath is standing up in between hands, looking at his phone, before staring over to the far corner. That’s because his best friend, Charlie Carrel, is currently heads-up against Jason Koon for a $1.6 million first place prize. You can check out that battle here.

One of the best players in the world has somehow snuck in this one without being noticed. Ben Tollerene, aka Ben86, is now sat next to Patrick Serda, and has 31,000 right now.

Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville and Jason Mercier are having a good ol’ chinwag. Somerville will likely be playing tomorrow, while Mercier has a stack of around 45,000. –JS

6:30pm: That’s it for ElkY
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Betrand “ElkY” Grospellier, one-time PCA champion, will not be repeating his feat this year. –BW

6:27pm: Watson busted
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Nearly 12 months ago Mike Watson was lifting up the PCA Main Event trophy. He won’t be doing the same this year in the PokerStars Championship.

Watson just departed the main event in a hand against Richard Proudfoot. On a flop of Q♠2♠J♣ Proudfoot checked to Watson who bet. Proudfoot replied by moving all in which Watson wasted no time in calling.

Watson: A♠10♠
Proudfoot: J♦J♥

The turn A♣[ and river 9♣ did nothing to help the situation for Watson. – SB

6:17pm: Where’s the rest of the pot?
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (50 ante)

You don’t get to be the GPI Player of the Year without making quads from time to time.

The 2016 winner of that title, David Peters, was heads-up in a pot against Olivier Busquet. They were on a 10♥J♣4♦ flop and Peters check-called a 2,000 bet, before both checked the J♥ turn.

After the 4♠ river floated down to the felt, Peters checked a final time and Busquet also tapped the table. Peters flipped over the J♠J♦ for quads and raked in a small pot, while Busquet mucked.

“I checked back pocket aces,” Busquet told the table with a smirk. –JS

6:15pm: Brody outflops Ortiz
Level 6 – Blinds 250/500 (75 ante)

Fabian Ortiz is out before dinner break after running his ace-jack into Christopher Brody’s flopped flush. –BW

6:05pm: Ratchford picking up where Hart left off
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Kevin Hart may no longer be in this event, but his good friend Harry Ratchford is picking up the comedy slack over on table two, where he sits with 40,000. He’s had his entire table in stitches, plus the dealers and masseuses.

But tablemate Nick Petrangelo hasn’t let himself get distracted. After Mihail Tudor limped, Petrangelo bumped it up to 1,700 to go, which Ayan Kuchukob called along with Tudor.

“Thanks tall blonde lady!” Ratchford said in a cartoonish voice to masseuse who just picked his jacket up from the floor (she was indeed tall and blonde). “That’s why I’ve been losing,” he continued, “My stuff’s on the ground!”

They saw a 4♥7♦9♣ flop and it checked to Petrangelo. He continued for 2,000.

“Why did I turn off the raaaaaaaadioooo!” Ratchford started singing. We don’t know why.

Everyone folded and Petrangelo took it down. –JS

5:55pm: Not a third time, buddy
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Ema Zajmovic loved her aces, but she wasn’t so enamored with them that she was going to give up her whole stack. She was in the hand with Kevin Andriamahefa and Justin Bonomo. On the 6♣K♠3♥ flop, Andriamahefa checked, Zajmovic bet, and Bonomo called. The action went the same way on the 8♠ turn, but this time the amount was 4,100. The river bought the 5♦, and Andriamahefa checked again. This time Zajmovic decided she wasn’t going to bet a third time. Play checked all the way through and Andriamahefa showed a flopped set of threes. Zajmovic declared aces and shook her head as she mucked. -BW

5:50pm: ElkY in the dangerzone
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Team PokerStars Pro ElkY is sitting with just 5,500 in front of him right now. With just 13 big blinds, you can expect some developments – good or bad – in the near future. –JS

Betrand Grospellier_bahamas_ME_8JAN17Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier

5:40pm: Bank of Timex
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Just a couple of days ago it was announced that the Bank of Timex – set up by Timex himself, Mike McDonald – was returning after a three-year hiatus. However, the bank is always open when McDonald is on the tournament grind, and Gilbert Diaz just made an investment he immediately regretted.

The 7♣5♥7♦ flop was already down when I arrived, and Diaz checked it over to McDonald. He made it 2,500, only for Diaz to immediately raise to 5,000. McDonald called and they went to a turn.

The A♥‘s arrival prompted a check from Diaz, and a 4,000 bet from McDonald which was quickly called.

Finally the 2♥ completed the board and Diaz check-called another 4,000. McDonald rolled over the A♠J♥ for top pair, and Diaz couldn’t believe it; he showed his 6♦6♣ with frustration as he was left with just 12,000, while McDonald moved up to 66,000.

“Where are you from?” fellow tablemate Hrair Janian asked McDonald while he was stacking chips.

“Canada,” came the response, which was music to the ears of fellow Canadian Janian, proudly wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey. — JS

5:30pm: Mercier sends Larquemin to the rail
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Jason Mercier just sent Christophe Larquemin to the rail to take his stack up to more than 60,000.

Larquemin opened to 1,000 under the gun, which Mercier raised to 3,700. Call. The flop came 7♣J♦4♣ and Larquemin bet 3,000. Mercier called for the Q♠ turn card.

Larquemin checked this time, then called Mercier’s bet of 4,500. On the Q♥ river card he checked again. Mercier then set him all in for his last 7,700 and Larquemin called showing A♣J♥. Mercier though had that beat, turning over J♣J♠. – SB

5:25pm: Dawley recounts airport terror
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Jessica Dawley just took the seat recently vacated by Bart Lybaert, and it wasn’t long before everybody wanted to know about her trip here. Dawley was one of the poker players in the Ft. Lauderdale airport when the most recent American mass shooting happened. Pocket Fives’ Lance Bradley wrote a good piece about Dawley’s experience here. -BW

5:20pm: Mercier beats Mejia, straight up
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

When will it end? Well, Jason Mercier’s infamous rungood is clearly still going, judging by the river card he just caught.

After Christophe Larquemin limped from the utg+1 seat, Mercier decided to do the same from one seat over. It then folded to the blinds of Jorge Martinez and Nicolas Mejia, both of whom came along to see the flop.


It checked to the Team PokerStars Pro and he took the betting lead with a 750 wager. Both Martinez and Mejia called, but Larquemin let his hand go.

The remaining three players saw a K♣ turn, and Martinez checked again. But now Mejia opted to come out firing, with a 3,000 bet. Mercier made the call, and Martinez chucked his hand away.

They saw the J♠ on the river and now Mejia decided to check. That let Mercier make a big bet of 11,000, and after a little thinking Mejia made the call. We’d never see his hand though; he mucked after Mercier showed the Q♣10♣ for a runner-runner straight.

Mejia is down to 15,000 now, while Mercier is up to 47,000. — JS

Jason Mercier-PCB2017-Monti-1923.jpg

Jason Mercier

5:10pm: Dadoun downs Garcia
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

Somebody stop this kid! Morris Dadoun has just taken out golf legend Sergio Garcia to move past 100k, probably good for the chip lead, or close to it at least.

Sergio Garcia and Morris Dadoun_ME_8JAN17Sergio Garcia with Morris Dadoun

Gaelle Baumann opened from under the gun and was called by Garcia in the next seat and Dadoun from two more seats along. The flop spread 7♠7♣Q♥ and Baumann continued for 2,500. Garcia then raised to 6,500 and Dadoun called, which was enough to scare off Baumann. The turn was the 3♥ and Garcia moved all-in for 11,800 and was called.

Garcia: K♥Q♣
Dadoun: K♠K♦

The river was the 3♦ and Garcia shook Dadoun hand before heading off.

“He saved me,” said Baumann, pointing to where Garcia once sat. “I had ace-queen.” –MC

5:05pm: “Wow, that’s a nice hand.”
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

This could easily be the most fun hand I see all tournament.

Bart Lybaert, onetime Eureka and France Poker Series champion, came in for a raise and got calls from both Andrey Zaichenko and 84-year-old PokerStars qualifier Morris Dadoun. On the 7♦8♥9♥ flop, Dadoun checked, Lybaert continued for 2,300, and Zaichenko called. That’s when Dadoun announced raise and put out 10,000.

Lybaert wasted no time shoving all in for the rest of his stack. The only thing quicker was Dadoun’s call. It came so fast, Zaichenko didn’t even have a chance to act (he folded quickly thereafter).

Lybaert quickly revealed his monster: a flopped set of eights with 8♦8♣.

“Wow,” Dadoun said slowly. “That is a nice hand.”

And then just as slowly, he flipped up his cards. 5♥6♥. The flopped straight with a straight flush redraw. The board ran clean for him and he stacked up more than 70,000.

“Sorry,” Dadoun said, and shook Lybaert’s hand as he departed. –BW

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5pm: Stacey shoved on the turn
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

If you’re moving up and down while shoving, is that a sign of strength or weakness? We’ll have to ask Patrick Stacey sometime, as that’s what he was doing when he made his move.

He opened to 1,000 from middle position before Rocco Palumbo three-bet to 2,600 from the hijack. Ronan Gorey called from the small blind and Stacey called as well. The flop fell 4♦5♦4♥ and the action was checked to Palumbo who continued for 3,000. Both opponents called to the K♦ turn where a bopping Stacey double-fist-shoved for 13,500. Palumbo gave a resigned look and folded, as did Gorey. — MC

4:55pm: Kanit increases
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (ante 50)

Mustapha Kanit must be a fish. Can you believe he only had seven cashes in the whole of 2016?

Oh wait… those seven cashes were worth a combined $2.8 million… Mustapha Kanit must be a boss.

The Italian all-time money winner opened this hand to 1,000 under the gun plus one, and it folded around to Konstantin Farber who was the only caller. The two went to a 2♥8♦9♣ flop, on which Kanit continued for 1,000. Call.

They saw a 6♦ turn hit the felt and Kanit showed no signs of slowing down. He made it 3,500 to go on fourth street, but Farber called pretty quickly.

An already healthy pot was about to get bigger when the J♥ river landed. Kanit thought for a few moments before putting out an 11,000 bet, which caused Farber to wince like he’d just taken a bite from a particularly spicy bowl of Singapore noodles. He folded and dropped to 38,000, while Kanit is up to 42,000. — JS

4:50pm: Play resumes
Level 5 – Blinds 200/400 (50 ante)

We’re back from the break with two more levels to play before an 80 minute dinner break.

4:26pm: Break time

Players are now on a 20-minute break.

4:25pm: Don’t mess with Baumann
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Gaelle Baumann has joined the field and been at the tough table, right next to Sergio Garcia. It didn’t take her long to make her mark.

Bart Lybaert opened to 1,000 from middle position and was called in two spots before Baumann squeezed to 6,200 from the big blind. Only Andrey Zaichenko called to the 5♦K♣J♥ flop. Baumann continued for 5,500 and Zaichenko tank-folded. –MC

4:23pm: Every dog has it’s day. Just ask Daniel Negreanu
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

Daniel Negreanu has arrived, passing by Kevin Hart who busted just as Negreanu appeared. Hart blamed Negreanu for his exit and then, if I heard it right, told the players at his now former table that they should expect to hear form his legal team.

While Hart made his exit Negreanu made his entrance.

“Okay, who here is a professional, raise your hand,” he said, looking round at the table. “Everyone has a job?”

“I’m not a pro,” replied Bradley Snider in seat 5. “I just don’t have a job.”

That sounded suspicious and got a few laughs. Snider then said he’d met Negreanu in a charity event.

“I’m sorry,” said Negreanu. “I met a lot of people and was drunk. That’s my excuse.”

Then things got weird.

Negreanu is used to unusual requests, and people showing more than just a passing interest in him (the woman at the World Series one year who asked him to be a sperm donor springs to mind). On this occasion though he announced that a woman had given him a letter, addressed not to him, but his dog, a 17 year old Chihuahua with a bad chest.

He read it, throwing out some highlights.

“This is so weird… ‘a few woofs about myself’…. A letter to my dog. Who does that?”

“A stalker?” suggested one player.

“She’s not stalking me she’s stalking my dog.” – SB

4:20: New arrivals
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

The Olivier Busquet/Sergio Garcia/Morris Dadoun/Andrey Zaichenko/David Peters table just got even harder, with the addition of Gaelle Baumann.

Meanwhile, Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier has taken his seat in this event, whilst simultaneously playing online on his laptop. –JS

4:15pm: Olshan doubles through Chidwick
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Stephen Chidwick is still cruising on around 75,000 despite doubling up Sharman Olshan.

The British star raised to 650 from middle position and then made a considered call after she three-bet all-in for 3,650 from the cutoff.

Chidwick: J♥9♥
Olshan: K♥9♦

The board ran A♦5♦7♦Q♣7♠ to see Olshan’s hand hold up and she’s now less downbeat. –MC

4:06pm: AA for Adams, but he busts to AA
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

This hand, which proved to be Timothy Adams’ last, started with an under-the-gun open to 700, which Ami Alibay then three-bet, but only but up to 1,200. Two more players called before it got to Adams in the big blind, and he looked like he was hatching a plan.

That plan eventually became a squeeze up to 6,000, which got rid of the initial raiser. Alibay called though, as did one other player. The flop fell 9♦3♦8♦ and Adams jammed, only for Alibay to make the call. The other player got out of the way, and Adams saw the bad news.

Adams – A♣A♠
Alibay – A♦5♦

Alibay had flopped the nuts and Adams was left needing running cards. The 7♥ hit the turn though leaving Adams drawing dead, and yet he couldn’t look away; he saw the 7♠ land on the river before he said goodbye. Still, Adams ain’t goin’ home yet; there are plenty of other tournaments in this festival to keep him entertained. –JS

3:53pm: They gone
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

There are worse places to bust than Paradise Island so it’s not like they’ve been sent out into the crossfade cold. Just don’t say that to William Campos, Michael Lipman, Sam Greenwood, Jose Garcia, Ken Aldridge, Roland Wallace or Rayan Chamas if you bump into them. –MC

3:50pm: Chidwick chipping up
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (50 ante)

There was plenty going on at Stephen Chidwick’s table and he was sitting upright. So he was involved.

Chad Brown, who had spent most of the early afternoon having his legs massaged, had 8,000 in front of him, having followed the action that explained why Chidwick had 3,500 in front of him with a flop dealt 2♣Q♣10♥.

Chidwick had the decision so he made it easy for Brown. He lumped in about 50,000 chips. Nothing specific. You sensed that had a spatula or a bag of peanuts been the nearest thing to hand he would have lumped those into the pot. Anything. It just turned out a big pile of blue and yellow chips was most convenient.

This easily covered Brown who spent the next three or four minutes in silent contemplation – to fold, or call for his tournament life. He did the latter, tossing in a couple of chips and turning over Q♥8♥. Chidwick meanwhile had flopped two pair, showing Q♠10♠.

The turn J♥ and river 5♠ meant Brown was out and able to put that massage to the test. Chidwick meanwhile moves up to 80,000. – SB

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3:45pm: Nice call from Cappucci
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

With a 7♣10♣4♥ flop already in the middle, I noticed a multi-way pot going on with Ivan Luca and a few players unknown to this writer. Luca came in for a 1,050 bet, which was called by Raffi Nahabedian, only for James Cappucci to three-bet to 3,100. Luca let his hand go, and I also thought about letting this hand go too, but I eventually decided to see it through.

Luckily, there was more action to report. The 4♠ landed on the turn and Nahabedian checked it to Cappucci, who continued down his aggressive line with a 4,200 bet. Call.

Finally the 2♥ river completed the board, and Nahabedian decided to lead out for 9,000, which put Cappucci all-in. He wasted barely no time before calling off his stack, and he was right to do so; his 9♥9♦ was way ahead of Nahabedian’s 2♣5♣ for a busted flush draw and pair of ducks, and he dropped to 18,000. Cappucci is up to around 35,000 now. –JS

3:40pm: Peters flush with chips
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

It’ll come as no surprise to read that David Peters is building a stack. He moved up to around 60,000 after he eliminated Arjen Hulskotte in a flush over flush situation.

Peters raised to 800 and picked up four callers. The dealer went to spread the flop without burning and four cards – 5♥8♣2♣A♣ – appeared on the board. The floor was called and the dealer was asked to shuffle the four cards face down while the floor had his back turned, before the floor picked the A♣ at random and made that the burn card.

Peters continued for 2,200 and was only called by Hulskotte. The Dutchman bet 2,400 on the 9♣ turn after Peters checked to him and then called off the 5,025 he had behind after Peters raised him all-in.

Peters: J♣10♣
Hulskotte: 7♣5♣

The river was the 3♠ and Hulskotte was sent on his way. –MC

3:33pm: Petten is regrettin’ his aggression
Level 4 – Blinds 150/300 (ante 50)

Another bust out to tell you about. In this one, we picked up the action on a 4♠A♦9♦4♥ board, and Bradley Marsh had made a bet of 6,000. Whether this was a three-bet, a four-bet, an 18-bet, we’ll never know as George Petten had made it 13,000 when we arrived. Back to Marsh, he thought for a while before jamming, and Patten called off his last 10,000 or so.

Marsh – 9♠9♥
Petten – A♣Q♥

Marsh had his fellow Canadian drawing dead, so the river card was insignificant. Petten made his exit, while Marsh is up to around 55,000 now. –JS

3:15pm: Hart makes a stand
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

You don’t actually need to be near his table to know that Stephen Chidwick is in a hand. His posture tells you everything. Always bolt upright. It projects poise, control, and no need at all for a massage.

Kevin Hart’s approach is different. He stands. Or at least he did for his last hand. Playing against Walter Oaquim, they both checked the 3♣5♦J♦ flop, then the 3♥ turn and again on the A♥ river.

“Queen high,” announced Hart.

“King high,” replied Oaquim.

“I so outplayed you that hand checking it down,” said Hart. “I knew you were ahead all the way.” – SB

3:05pm: Ex-high rollers turn Main Eventers
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

While the $100K plays down to a winner over in the far corner, three more of that event’s former players have switched their attention over to Day 1A. Timothy Adams, Justin Bonomo, and Ben Heath are all now in the mix, and joining them is Frenchman Sylvain Loosli. –JS

3:03pm: River raising
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

For some it works out, for others it means you’re out.

It worked out well for Christoph Vogelsang. The German high roller managed to take Claudia Wolski off a hand on the river to see his stack rise to 58,000. In a three-way hand Wolksi had bet 2,000 and 3,000 on the turn and river of a 9♦8♦K♣K♦A♦ board. Her turn bet was called by both opponents whereas her river bet got one opponent to fold before Vogelsang raised to 12,500. She tank-folded.

Meanwhile, on a nearby table, Rayan Chamas was shown the door by Luciano Dayan. A river raising war on a J♣7♠J♥9♣2♣ board saw both players commit their stacks. Chamas opened K♠K♦ but couldn’t beat the A♣A♦ belonging to his Brazilian opponent. –MC

3:00: Last ever EPT high roller champ…Kassouf
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Coincidentally, after our last post about Patrick Serda, none other than Will Kassouf has now entered this tournament. Will the real ‘last ever EPT high roller champ’ please stand up? –JS

2:46pm: Last ever EPT high roller champ…kinda
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

While it’s chatty Brit Will Kassouf who will forever be known as the last ever EPT high roller champ (having taken down the final $10K of EPT Prague in December), the man who finished second – Canada’s Patrick Serda – actually banked almost $200K more. He took home $719K in that event (to Kassouf’s $555K), and is among the talented field here today.

In his most recent hand, Morten Halvorsen opened to 500 only for Serda to three-bet out of the small blind to 1,400. Halvorsen made the call to see the K♦10♠A♦ flop, and both checked it to the 8♦ turn. Again, there was no action. Check check.

When the J♣ river fell, Serda made it 1,000 and Halvorsen quickly called. Serda slid his hand into the muck, meaning Halvorsen didn’t have to show his hand to win. Serda has 17,000 after that one. –JS

2:38pm: Hart didn’t lose it all
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

“You could’ve got it all!” said Kevin Hart to Stanislav Miroshkin after the latter just called his river raise. Hart (obviously) lost the hand and dropped to 7,000 chips.

The action was three-way to a K♥9♣Q♠ flop and it was Walter Oaquim who bet 650. Miroshkin check-called from the big blind and so did Hart (UTG) after saying, “If I didn’t have exactly 650, I wouldn’t be calling.”

The turn was the 9♦ and all three players checked to see the 6♠ complete the board. Miroshkin led out for 1,625 and was raised up to 6,000 by Hart after he said, “Jeez-Louise!”

Kevin Hart-PCB2017-Monti-1706.jpg

Kevin Hart

Oaquim said that the river changed nothing and Hart snapped, “What are you talking about? The six changed everything!”

Oaquim relinquished his hand and Hart commented, “Yeah, bullying the table!” Then he turned to the dealer and asked, “This is a re-buy, right?” The dealer shook her head and Hart continued, “No? Damn, I think I messed up.”

Walter Oaquim-PCB2017-Monti-1567.jpg

Walter Oaquim

Miroshkin flicked in the call and Hart opened A♠9♠ for trips. It was no good though as the Russian had J♦10♣ for a flopped straight. –MC

2:34pm: The less said the better
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Let’s be honest here, day ones are not always riddled with activity. For every hand that gets written about something like three others come to nothing, and are scratched out in notebooks as being irrelevant.

Like this one should have been.

Nicolas Mejia opened for 575 in middle position, which Robert Mizrachi called on the button. In the blinds were Roman Papacek and Bulat Bikmetov, both of whom called.

The flop came 10♣2♣2♥.

Papacek checked. Bikmetov checked. Mejia checked. Mizrachi checked.

The turn came 10♠

Papacek checked. Bikmetov checked. Mejia checked. Mizrachi checked.

The river came 7♦

Roman Papaeck bet 1,000. Bikmetov folded. Mejia folded. Mizrachi folded. The less said about this hand the better. — SB


2:29pm: Garcia in the rough
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

Golf superstar Sergio Garcia has seen his stack dwindle so far here today, and his latest hand hasn’t helped him recover. He opened to 500 and got a call from Morris Dadoun, only for Bart Lybaert to three-bet up to 1,700. Only Garcia called.

The two went to battle on a 2♦A♣10♣ flop, but it turned out to be a friendly affair as both checked. The turn came the 2♣, and Garcia decided to lead out for 1,100. Lybaert matched it.

When the 4♣ river hit the felt, putting four clubs out there, Garcia counted out a bet of 4,100 and put it over the line. Lybaert wanted to play bigger though, and quickly tossed in three blue chips to raise it to 15,000. Garcia could only give his hand up, leaving himself with 6,100 to go to battle with another time. –JS

2:18pm: I wouldn’t wanna be the next guy to enter…
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (ante 25)

The latest table to open up has become very stacked, very quickly. Orpen Kisacikoglu has been moved there, while two of the most recent entrants have taken their seats. They just so happen to be 2015 WSOP champ Joe McKeehan, and all-round boss Mustapha Kanit.

There are still a couple of empty seats at the table, so I’d hold off on entering for now if I were you. –JS

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2:15pm: Ground control to Planet ElkY
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

ElkY has arrived.

He’s dressed in full peroxide battle mode – like a space based superhero from planet internet. His white leather jacket hints at this alternative life, with “Liquid ElkY” stamped on the back. His torn jeans reveal panels of metal studs, which may or may not be his skin, a level up on the rest of us mortals. Sparkly, trim and permanently on his phone, the man hums with wireless connectivity.

Next to him is George Petten, from Canada, who wears a polo shirt and keeps a pack of Marlboro reds in the breast pocket.

The two players saw a flop together, landing as it did 9♥Q♥Q♠. The action was checked to ElkY who bet 675. Petten called, as the third player in the hand folded. On the 7♦ turn ElkY bet another 1,250. Again Petten called for the 5♣ river card. Sensing problems ElkY simply checked. Petten did the same, only to discover his 9♦8♦ was better than ElkY’s 6♥5♥.

Just a glitch. ElkY is already surging back to full power. – SB

2:10pm: Garcia amongst the elite
Level 3 – Blinds 100/200 (25 ante)

Sergio Garcia’s used to playing in a group that’s the best of the best when he’s part of Europe’s Ryder Cup golf team, so hopefully he’s not too daunted by the table he’s at now, which has evolved to become the hardest in the room, most probably.

Here are the earnings of some of the players at his table:

David Peters – $14.8 million, and current world number one
Olivier Busquet – $7.1 million.
Andrey Zaichenko – $2.8 million
Bart Lybaert – $739k

That’s quite the line-up to deal with but if we told you Garcia has earned over $43 million on the PGA tour alone, you’ll understand why he’ll be just fine today.

Lybaert took down a nice pot preflop while we were there. After an open 400, a call, and a squeeze to 1,400, the Belgian casually raised to 4,400 from the big blind. All opponents ran for the hills. –MC

1:43pm: Big hand and big hands
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Mike McDonald’s table is notable for his presence as well as the likes of Stephen Chidwick and Orpen Kisacikoglu, but also for the big friendly giant in seat four.

This is Hrair Janian of Canada, whose had a good start to the day and who has an endearing habit of talking through his decisions with an opponent after the hand concludes. He’s been talking to everyone, including Sharman Olshan in the seat next to him, who is about half his size.

It was Olshan who opened the pot under the gun making it 400. McDonald called in middle position while Janian called form the big blind.

The flop came K♦K♥8♣. That was checked for the 4♦ turn. Janian bet 1,100, getting Olshan to fold. McDonald fired the death stare over at Janian but it bounced off. So he called.

On the A♥ river Janian bet again, 2,100 this time. McDonald paused, cautious of the ace, but finally, with a small amount of what-the-hell curiosity, made the call.

7♦8♠ for Janian. J♥J♣ for McDonald. Janian tapped the table with his big hand as McDonald confessed the ace scared him on the river. He’s now on 33,000. Janian meanwhile is still up to 55,000. — SB

1:25pm: From movie stars to poker stars
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

With all the fuss over movie star comedians entering this event, one man’s entrance has been overlooked. David Peters, the GPI Player of the Year, has taken his seat over on the same table as Olivier Busquet, Sergio Garcia and Morris Dadoun. All of them, except for Peters, were just involved in a hand.

Dadoun had limped from the under the gun plus one, only for Busquet to raise it to 600. Garcia called from the small blind, and Dadoun called to see a flop too.

It came the 3♥K♣J♥ and checked to Busquet, who came in for a continuation bet worth 1,000. Garcia called, as did Dadoun, so it was three to the 2♦ turn. It checked to Busquet once more, and when he put out a bet of 7,500 I had to double check the size of the pot. “Yep, I’m not crazy, it is a big overbet,” I assured myself, as I watched Garcia and Dadoun let their hands go. –JS

1:20: Gavin on the up, Pavelko the first out
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Alexis Gavin has gotten her stack up to nearly 50,000 after she slow played kings and got paid. Patrik Pavelko on the other hand was the first player out after he was taken out by the aforementioned Morris Dadoun (no details on the hand).

Nick Mossa opened to 600 from middle position and was called by Gavin (hijack) and Sergi Reixach (button). The board ran out 9♠J♦3♣3♠8♦ with Mosso firing bets of 1,650, 2,500 and 4,500 on each street. Reixach ducked out of the way on the flop but Gavin called all the way with two black kings, good enough to beat Mossa’s K♥J♣. –MC

1:15pm: Plenty of Hart in this one, but no hole cards
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Movie star Kevin Hart has been fairly active in this thing so far. Picking up the action on a 5♥A♥7♠ flop, Hart checked to Sebastian Mavrostomos who made a bet of 500. Hart then check-raised it up to 1,625, but the Fin didn’t budge.

Both checked the 2♦ turn, but on the 5♣ river Hart took one last shot. He slid in 3,200, but when Mavrostomos insta-called, Hart insta-mucked, as did Mavrostomos after he’d insta-won. –JS

1:04pm: No Hart on the flop
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Any excuse from here on out to mention Kevin Hart, right? He was in this hand, albeit briefly.

After Sebastian Mavrostomos opened to 400 under the gun plus one, Hart made the call to his left, as did Marius Mocyzgemba, Allen Farris and Aslan Tcechoev. They all saw a 7♣6♠A♠ flop, on which Mavrostomos continued for 600 when it checked to him. Hart didn’t want to ride along (see what I did there?) and folded, but Farris (on the button) raised it up to 1,400. Tcechoev (big blind) called, as did the initial raiser.

The dealer burned and turned the 3♦ and Tcechoev checked once again. Mavrostomos decided to lead right out into Farris with a bet of 1,500, which he’d call. Tcechoev got out of the way and the remaining two went to the 10♠ river. Mavrostomos didn’t slow down, making it 2,100 to go, which Farris called quickly.

Mavrostomos turned over the 6♣6♦ for a flopped set, but it seemed Farris hadn’t spotted it at first. He showed his A♦10♥ like it was the winner, but quickly realised his two pair was no good. He dipped to 21,000, while Mavrostomos is up to around 37,000 now. –JS

12:57: Hart back in the game
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Funny man Kevin Hart, who played in the Super High Roller, has joined the Main Event field along with Harry Ratchford, a friend and collaborator of his.

Hart was greeted, and embraced by, Sergio Garcia, while Ratchford had to contend with one of their entourage needling him. “I don’t know why you’re bothering,” said the random man, “You’re just going to give your money away!” — MC

12:55pm: A first all in?
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

One the first all ins spotted in the Main Event. It was William Campos of Peru who was at risk, although his pocket kings looked pretty good against the ace-queen of Nathaniel Howe.

Howe got a queen on the flop but nothing more. Campos lives, although his stack of 16,000 is still only half what he started with. – SB

12:45: Another November Niner
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Cliff Josephy isn’t the only representative of the 2016 WSOP Main Event final table out there in the field. The Czech Republic’s Vojtech Ruzicka is also in the mix, and happened to take down the first hand we caught him in.

After an open from Arjen Hulskotte under the gun, it folded around to the blinds and both called. The flop came J♥Q♥8♦ and it checked to Ruzicka, who had defended his big blind, and he checked too, but Hulskotte opted not to c-bet. The turn was the 5♣ and this time the small blind payer led for 600 and got two calls.

When the 7♣ hit the river it killed the action, as everyone checked. Hulskotte revealed the J♣9♣ for second pair, but that was no good as Ruzicka flipped over the Q♣9♦ for top pair. He took it down and is up to 33,000 now. –JS

12:37pm: Jack, that’s not Bernie Sanders
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

A few minutes ago, our man Jack Stanton thought he might have spotted Bernie Sanders in the field. What he didn’t know until just now was that Morris Dadoun, an 84-year-old qualifier who will almost certainly be the oldest player in this event. He’s been playing poker regularly since he was in his 40s.

The CBC recently interviewed Dadoun. You can check him out here.–BW

Morris Dadoun-PCB2017-Monti-1665.jpg

Morris Dadoun

12:38pm: Garcia safe to be around this year
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Sergio Garcia won a small pot and then had to contend with Cliff Josephy jestingly moaning about a bug the two had at a previous year here in the Bahamas.

Garcia limped on the button and William Campos checked his option after David Olshan had completed from the small blind. The flop fanned A♥9♦2♠ and Olshan led out for 200 but folded after Garcia raised to 500. Campos folded also.

“You know you made me ill and I haven’t been ill in ten years!” Josephy then said to Garcia. The two were sat next to each other on a previous year here and Josephy continued, “You were coughing and spluttering next to me. I never get ill and haven’t been since.”

Garcia remembered and said he picked it (the bug) up on the plane and found it hard to leave his room for much of the trip. Luckily everyone at the table seems to be in full health today. –MC

NEIL9973_Sergio_Garcia_PCB2017_Neil Stoddart.jpg

Sergio Garcia

12:40pm: Two Mikes
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Two familiar faces have arrived to take their seats on Day 1A. First there’s Mike McDonald, who arrives carries with him the hotel laundry bag full of something, to take his seat at the table featuring Stephen Chidwick and Orpen Kisacikoglu. He was followed by Mike Watson, the winner of the Main Event at last year’s PCA, who takes his seat a few tables along.

12:35: Isn’t that Bernie Sanders?
Level 2 – Blinds 75/150

Canada’s Morris Dadoun has taken a seat over at Stephen Chidwick and Orpen Kisacikoglu’s table, and he looked ever so familiar. I couldn’t place him, but then it hit me:

He bares a striking resemblance to Bernie Sanders (minus glasses, plus baseball cap). With no photos of him yet, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Dadoun was in a pot against Sergey Kosolapov, and by the turn the board read K♣2♣9♥5♦. Douden checked it and the Russian made it 800 to go, only for Dadoun to check-raise the minimum up to 1,600. That was quickly called.

When the 2♦ river completed the board, the action was on Dadoun but he was a bit unsure. “Is it on me?” he asked, facing over to Chidwick who gave him a nod. He then tossed out a bet of 1,300 which Kosolapov quickly called.

Dadoun revealed the K♦10♣ for top pair, but he was outkicked by Kosolapov’s K♠J♣. Sanders – sorry, I mean Dadoun gave him the thumbs up as he saw the pot pushed his opponent’s way. –JS

12:17pm: The benefits of arriving early
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Daniel Negreanu hosted a Q&A in the main tournament room this morning. It was here you could ask any question you wanted, however ridiculous, provided you didn’t mind asking it in front of a couple of hundred people.

One question among many was about when to register, and was it better to arrive for the start or leave it a few levels and then join. I can’t remember the exact response but there was an element of personal preference balanced with how advantageous you felt it to be.

But while it’s true that some bigger names prefer to arrive late, it doesn’t apply to all. Stephen Chidwick for example, a Super High Roller of note, was among the first to take a seat this morning. Whatever his reasons, and I’d guess they were something to do with winning as many chips as he could, he’s off to a good start today, adding more chips to his stack after a hand against Sergey Kosolapov.

The action was checked on the flop of 3♦K♣A♠ before the 8♥ on the turn. Chidwick bet 500 at this point, which was called, and then another 700 on the 3♣ river card, which was also called. Chidwick turned over 10♥A♦ to win the hand. Maybe it does pay to arrive early. – SB

12:10pm: King Grigor takes from Aido
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Sergio Aido knew something was up. After his flop raise was cold-called by a player behind him, and out of position, he shut down.

When we approached the table, the scenario was like this: the flop read 7♥Q♥7♣ and Pawel Zielony (hijack) had 1,300 out in front of him. Aido was on the button and raised to 4,200, a bet that Adam Grigor (big blind) called. Zielony tanked for a minute before releasing his hand. The board ran out 2♣8♠ and was checked through by the remaining two players.

Grigor opened K♥K♣ and Aido mucked to drop to 22,250. –MC

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12:06pm: Shak fires back
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Dan Shak’s Level 1 just got a little bit better. He was heads up in a blind v blind pot with Canada’s Naji Harb, and the board showed the A♥3♦5♠8♦. Harb led for 325 and Shak flatted to see the 2♦ river. When Harb continued for 500 Shak popped it up to 1,500 and got a fold. He’s up to 32,000 now. –JS

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Dan Shak

12:05pm: Star-studded table number 6
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

November Niner Cliff Josephy has taken his seat at table 6 and Stig Moen was very happy about that fact.

“I’m not normally star-struck sir, but the hours I spent listening to your voice….!” he said to the online and live legend of the game. I wonder if Moen knows that Sergio Garcia is in the seat to his direct left.

Josephy then opened his very first hand dealt, raising to 300 from under the gun. Daniel Koop was in the big blind and made the call. Both players checked the 6♦K♥J♦ flop before Koop led for 400 and 1,000 on the K♦4♣ turn and river. Josephy called the first bet but open-folded A♦Q♣ when faced with the river bet. –MC

11:55am: Nice hand for Naesheim
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

The PCB Main Event might have a nice slow structure with 75-minute levels, but it’s always good to win a healthy pot early on regardless. Just ask Thomas Naesheim.

After Ireland’s Ronan Gorey opened to 250 in the lojack and Leo Cheng called in the cutoff, Naesheim was on the button and squeezed it up to 1,025. Both players called and they went to a flop.

It fell 9♣2♣10♦ and it checked to the raiser, so Naesheim continued for 1,650. Again, both called to see a turn, and the dealer put down the 2♠. Both Gorey and Cheng checked, letting Norway’s Naesheim fire another shot worth 3,450. That was enough to get two folds and scoop the pot. –JS

11:50am: Journey to the Main Event
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

I’m not sure who traveled furthest to get to the Bahamas for this Main Event. Actually, according to the antipodes map it would be someone traveling from Perth, Australia. But still, full marks to Timur Toktabayev who travelled all the way from Kazakhstan to play.

He just one his first pot, against David Howard, whose trip from Canada was a puddle jump in comparison.

Howard opened for 250 which Toktabayev raised to 750. Howard then called for the 6♦5♦J♥ flop. Howard checked, Toktabayev bet 1,200 and got the call for the 6♣ turn card. Another check from Howard, who quickly folded when Toktabayev put another 2,250 into the middle. – SB

PSC Bahamas 2017 location Tomas Stacha_17STA_8911.jpg

11:42am: New era for Newey
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Despite plenty of deep runs and great results, Paul Newey never managed to bag a win in the EPT era. But it’s a new dawn here in the Bahamas, and Newey is here aiming to become the first PokerStars Championship champ.

It’s early days though, and there are always going to be some bumps in the road. Newey’s first bump goes by the name of Bradley Marsh. He opened to 225 and it folded around to the blinds. The small blind called, and Newey defended his big blind to see the 4♦10♠A♥ flop. It checked to Marsh, and he continued for 400 which only Newey called.

The turn came the J♦ and Newey checked once more. Marsh fired again for 900 and that got the high roller to give it up. –JS

11:35am: Good to see ya, Garcia
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

If you Googled the names of most of the field so far today, chances are the first result will be their Hendon Mob page showing their live results. But there’s someone in the field for whom you’d have to trawl through dozens of pages before finding their poker profile. Yep, golfing superstar Sergio Garcia isn’t your average player.

The man from Spain has 29 professional wins on his golfing resume, and while his poker CV isn’t quite as stacked, half of his six live cashes to date have come right here in the Bahamas. He’s here early for Day 1A, looking to best his 51st finish back at the 2010 PCA Main Event (good for $35K). –JS

11:35am: Chidwick trips up opponent
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Mike Leah, Sergio Aido and Paul Newey are a few of the latest names to join the Day 1A field, which has swelled to 125 at latest count. That number will continue to grow all throughout the day.

We already mentioned that Stephen Chidwick is in the field and he’s gotten off to a good start. He and Sergey Kosolapov had made the river with around 4,000 chips in the pot and a board that read 8♠5♣4♣5♠2♠. Chidwick bet 3,000 and then opened A♦5♦ for trips when called. Kosolapov mucked. –MC

11:26am: Shak starts well
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Dan Shak is one of the more familiar faces in the field today. He also happens to be at a reasonably full table with seven players being dealt cards as opposed to three players on the table alongside.

Shak, a Bluetooth earpiece attached (different to the one he wore yesterday), just got his day started with a pot against Jamie Webb.

On a flop of Q♣9♥3♠ the hand was three handed. Everyone checked for the 5♣ turn. Shak bet 300, which left just him and Webb who called for the 6♣ river card. Shak bet 600, which Webb called. Shak’s Q♠5♠ was good for an early win. – SB

11:11am: High roller, early riser
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

Stephen Chidwick is the latest high roller who has hopped in early. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s been plonked down on Orpen Kisacikoglu’s table. Small world. –JS

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Orpen Kisacikoglu

11:10am: High rolling work ethic
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

The $100k Super High Roller final table made the money yesterday and will play down to a winner today. Only seven of the 41 players who entered (some more than once) made the money and are still in the heart. That meant there were 34 players who are already down (at least) $100k down.

You can either get down about that fact or you can get put it behind you and get back on the grind. Nick Petrangelo and Orpen Kisacikoglu are two fine examples of that. They, as true professionals, were here on time and looking to get out if that sizable hole.

Where are you Charlie Carrel? Where’s your work ethic? Oh yeah, he’s still in the SHR and is chip leader. Again! –MC

11:00am: Play underway
Level 1 – Blinds 50/100

And here we are, ladies and gentlemen. Play in the very first PokerStars Championship Main Event is underway. –BW

10:20am: Play starts at 11am

We’re all set for the first ever PokerStars Championship Main Event. We kick off the action at 11am this morning from Atlantis Resort, with eight levels on the schedule and a ton of play in between. — SB


PokerStars Blog reporting team on the $5K Main Event: Stephen Bartley, Marc Convey, Jack Stanton and Brad Willis. Photography by Neil Stoddart. Follow the PokerStars Blog on Twitter: @PokerStarsBlog


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