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Johnny Chan among the chip leaders as WSOP Main Event kicks off

6 July 2014

LAS VEGAS -- The quest for $10 million began slowly Saturday, with only 771 players choosing to play on Day 1A of the World Series of Poker Main Event. Saturday's opening flight was the first of three day ones at the Main Event. To manage the size of the Main Event field, which has topped 6,350 players each of the last eight years, the WSOP offers three different starting days. This is the first year the WSOP has guaranteed a $10 million prize for first place in the $10,000 buy-in tournament.

Traditionally, the first opening flight of the tournament is the smallest. Last year, Day 1A of the Main Event drew 943 players. Day 1B drew 1,942 players. And Day 1C had 3,467 players.

On Twitter, Seth Palansky, vice president of corporate communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) and the World Series of Poker, promised that this year's Day 1C would be "the biggest 1C we have ever held."

"(It's) tracking ahead of last year," Palansky added on Twitter.

Several former Main Event champions elected to beat the crowd to the felt and play on Saturday.

Johnny Chan showed Saturday he was a threat to win the Main Event.

Johnny Chan showed Saturday he was a threat to win the Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Two-time Main Event champion Johnny Chan finished seventh in chips with 106,000. Chris Moneymaker ended the day with 70,000 while Tom McEvoy finished with 28,000.

At the main TV table, defending champion Ryan Riess and 2012 champion Greg Merson were seated across from each other. And hedge fund manager and wealthy businessman Bill Perkins (but not a former Main Event champion) was caught in between them wondering what he'd done to anger the poker gods.

Riess finished with 70,225 in chips, while Merson closed the day with 7,125.

Perkins had a roller coaster of a day, with chip stack as low as 5,000 at one point. But he righted the ship before the dinner break and climbed back above 30,000. He ended the day with 25,000 in chips.

Perkins's good friend Antonio Esfandiari fared a bit better. The poker pro ended the day with 47,000.

Phil Laak, however, wasn't so lucky. Dressed as a rocket man (we think), Laak won the award for best Day 1A costume. But he didn't make it to the end of the day, exiting the tournament the same day it began. Other players who failed to survive Day 1A include Jean-Robert Bellande, who registered at 8:06 p.m. only to be eliminated by the end of the night, Eric Froehlich, Bruno Fitoussi, Marc-Etienne McLaughlin, Jason Mercier and Trishelle Cannatella.

Phil Laak easily won the best costume of the day.

Phil Laak easily won the best costume of the day. (photo by Vin Narayanan, Casino City)

Martin Jacobson finished Day 1A as the chip leader with 200,000 in chips. Aaron Wilt is second in chips with 166,500.
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Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.