The Big Event kicked-off at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California with 263 players forking over the $5,000 buy-in on Day 1a. Given the rebranding circumstances surrounding the event, and the concurrent NBC National Heads-Up Championship in Las Vegas, no one was certain just who would show up for the tournament. As it turned out, the pros turned out in force to take their shot at the Big Event title. By the end of the day, approximately 133 players remained with Chris DeMaci emerging as the Day 1a chip leader with 213,300.
DeMaci is no stranger to poker success here at the Bike. Last November, he took second place in the 2010 NAPT Los Angeles Main Event for $440,000. His big stack in the Big Event came when he opened from middle position with a raise to 1,050. Thayer Rasmussen then reraised to 2,800 from the cutoff, DeMaci four-bet to 5,350, and Rasmussen five-bet to 9,300. DeMaci responded by moving all. Rasmussen made the call for his last 25,000 or so and the cards were revealed.
The flop, turn and river ran out to keep DeMaci's kings in front and gave him the monster pot. Incidentally, Rasmussen was eliminated on the hand.
Hot on DeMaci’s heels is none other than Alex Kamberis, who bagged up 202,800. He got his monster stack after a player on the button raised to 2,000 and the small blind made it 5,000 to go. Kamberis proceeded to pop it to 11,000, with , the small blind called, and the flop came down . Given the small blind held , all the money, about 90,000 each, went in on the flop and Kamberis’ straight held.
Another big stack, Jason Wheeler, took a different route than the aforementioned big stacks. He chipped up steadily throughout the day, slowly building his stack. In one hand, an early-position player raised to 1,800 and Wheeler responded by three-betting to 4,500. Action folded back around to the original raiser, who then moved all in for 18,000. Wheeler made the call and the cards were turned up.
The board ran out and Wheeler took down the sizable pot, eventually ending the night with 179,700.
Day 1a of the Big Event attracted two former World Series of Poker Main Event Champions in the form of Tom McEvoy (1983) and Joe Hachem (2005). Both players managed to survive the day, though with quite opposite stacks, as McEvoy bagged up short while Hachem was fairly healthy. Joining them on Day 2 are some other top professionals in Pat Pezzin, Victor Ramdin, Govert Metaal, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Joseph Cheong, James Mackey, Anh Van Nguyen, Greg Debora, and Jeff Williams, just to name a few.
Unfortunately not everyone was so lucky. Justin “Boosted J” Smith, Bryn Kenney, Dan Heimiller, Chino Rheem, Chris Moorman, and Darryll Fish were among the early eliminations of Day 1a. Also failing to survive were David “Doc” Sands, Bruce Buffer, Adam Levy, Randal Flowers, Maria Ho, Shaun Deeb, and McLean Karr.
Day 1b is set to begin at noon PST on Sunday where the field is expected to be a bit smaller due to the slate of Sunday online tournaments. Nonetheless, the final field will be determined along with the prize pool. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be there to bring you all the latest hands, action, and eliminations, live, from the Big Event at the Bicycle Casino.