The poker world has been waiting patiently for the start of the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and Thursday was the day. The eighth annual festival of sunshine kicked off inside the cavernous ballroom inside the even more cavernous Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island. This year's gathering started off with a bang as the $100,000 Super High Roller event was the expensive first event on the ten-day schedule. When this opener was first announced, the staff was hopeful they would be able to fill two or three tables. Instead, a 38 players showed up to play, generating a prize pool of $3.743 million of which $1.5 million will go to the eventual champion. Among the entrants were some of the biggest names in poker.
The list of people with $100,000 to drop on a single event is small, and the fact that everyone was already more-or-less familiar with each other created a unique entertaining experience for the railbirds. PokerStars was well represented, sending Daniel Negreanu (Canada), Jason Mercier (USA), Humberto Brenes (Costa Rica), Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (France), Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel (Canada), and Friend of PokerStars Bill Chen to the felt today. Of them, Negreanu had the best day, bagging up 848,000 chips to lead his fellow Team members into Day 2.
Negreanu's stack would have been the biggest in the room, but he'll have to settle for second place after the lead was stolen from him on the final hand of the night. Tobias Reinkemeier got his chips in bad with pocket jacks against Shawn Buchanan's two aces for a pot worth close to 900,000 chips. The aces were in the lead until Reinkemeier found a straight on the river, and the German put his name atop the overnight score sheet with 896,000 chips to his credit. His lead is a small one and he's got plenty of company (apart from Negreanu) on his rear radar.
Nick Schulman was the first player to earn a knockout Thursday when he busted Koen Berendsen's kings with his own aces during the first level to set the early pace for the field. Those chips stuck with him all day, and he finished the night with 622,000 to put himself in fourth place heading into Day 2. Bryn Kenney was also in and out of the chip lead for most of the day, and his finishing count of 705,000 puts him one spot better in third place overnight. Also lurking around the top ten are Daniel “jungleman12” Cates, Eugene Katchalov, Andrew Lichtenberger, Vivek Rajkumar, Mercier, and South America's only entrant, Caio Pimenta of Brazil.
A hundred grand is several years' worth of wages for some, but a handful of the players managed to burn through their six figures within just a few hours. After Berendsen's cooler of an exit, businessman Bill Perkins was next to fall. He was down to about 100,000 chips (from his starting stack of 250,000) when he moved in with on a flop. Rajkumar snap-called with , and Perkins could not catch up on the turn or river. Just behind him went Scott Seiver after he reluctantly called off his stack with pocket queens against Phil Laak's . David "Bakes" Baker was one of the last to register and turn up – and one of the first to leave. He got his money in good with against James Obst's , but the cruel board flushed away all but 7,000 of Baker's chips. Others who took the walk of shame included Guy Laliberte, Masa Kagawa, Tom Marchese, Hoyt Corkins, Jason Somerville, Ashton Griffin, Viktor Blom, Grospellier, Duhamel, and Dan Shak.
That's a fine list of players, but it pales in comparison to the list of those set to return for Day 2. Laak is still alive, though he's got the shortest stack of just 99,000 chips left. His pal Antonio Esfandiari also survived, as did Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, Matt Glantz, David Benyamine, Sorel Mizzi, Mike “Timex” McDonald, and Andrew Robl.
The 23 survivors are set to return at noon Friday to play down to a final table of eight. Our live reporting team will be back inside the ropes to bring you all of the action as it unfolds, and we hope you'll follow along.