While the LA Poker Classic was going on half a continent away, 67 runners took to the felt at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa for the World Series of Poker Circuit Championship yesterday. Among the competitors were WSOP bracelet winner Bob Slezak, Alan "Ari" Engel, Bernard Lee, Eric Stiglets and WSOP Tunica final-table player Jeremy Byrum. When the dust settled on Day 1, it was Jeff Banghart with the chip lead, as only 30 players made it through to Day 2.
The small field and slow structure led to plenty of play for the entrants, but one competitor took the term "plenty of play" to the extreme. Jesse Hale built up his stack in the Main Event early, then decided to also enter the final side event of the tournament series, a Pot-Limit Omaha event going on at the same time. Hale spent the latter half of the day doing a little bit of live multi-tabling, and built up sizable stacks in both events. He finished Day 1 of the Main Event among the top five chip stacks.
After cashing three times in preliminary events, Drazen Ilich came into the Main Event on a roll. He kept rolling all through Day 1, finishing with a solid chip stack, in one big pot he wound up all in against Tyler Meierotto, tabling pocket jacks to Meierotto's . Presto was no good for Meierotto, as the board ran out to send him packing and add even more chips to Illich's stack.
Several notable players headed to the rail on Day 1, including Bernard Lee, David Dicken, Jeremy Byrum and Bob Slezak. Slezak got all his chips in with pocket kings after a raise from Timothy Begley and a re-raise from Harold Kruger. Begley quickly called, and when Kruger got out of the way Begley showed his pocket aces. The board changed nothing, and Slezak's cooler marked his elimination.
Eric Stiglets put the last of his chips in the middle with different results a little later. After a run of awful cards early in the day, Stiglets moved all in after a raise from Jeffrey Bryan and a call from John McDonald. Bryan folded, and McDonald thought for a moment before calling with . It was a coin flip as Stiglets tabled , and when the final board read Stiglets doubled through to a much safer position. Other notable survivors from Day 1 included Alan Engel, Va Shon Watkins, Drazen Ilich and the two-tabling Jesse Hale.
Join PokerNews at noon Central time on Tuesday for all the live updates as the 30 remaining players fight for seats at the final table. The top ten in chips:
Jeff Banghart -- 121,400
Jeffrey Bryan -- 108,200
Phil Mader -- 84,700
Jesse Hale -- 78,300
Tony Hartman -- 72,400
Joaquin Sosa -- 72,000
Mark Eddleman -- 66,400
Harold Kruger -- 63,000
Scott Erickson -- 59,500