The WSOP Circuit resumed its nationwide journey on Friday, stopping off at Caesars Atlantic City this weekend for another well attended Main Event. From a total field of 442, just 81 players survived the long first day of play, with Frank Argano ending the day with the biggest stack of more than 300,000.
Early estimates had some predicting a field of about 300 for this $1,500+$150 tournament, so the turnout of 442 was better than anticipated. That large field together created a total prize pool of $633,110, with the winner due to receive the ring, entry into the WSOP Circuit National Championship in May, and a handsome payday of $139,284.
Among those getting off to a fast start on Friday was Andy Santiago. Santiago's early success came as no surprise to him, convinced perhaps more than most that this event was his for the taking. Santiago even wrote an "affidavit" to that effect before the tourney began, stating his belief that he'd be the one to take down the event. However, despite enjoying the chip lead during the first few levels, Santiago ultimately ran into a couple of hard luck hands against tablemate Paul "paulgees81" Volpe to go out after the dinner break.
Volpe was another player who found himself sporting a large stack and challenging for the chip lead on Day 1. The online phenom stumbled, however, in a big hand in which he five-bet shoved with only to be called by an opponent holding . Suddenly down to a short stack, Volpe jammed once more with a big ace, but this time ran into pocket rockets and was eliminated.
Other notables failing to make it through Day 1 included 2005 WSOP Main Event runner-up Steve Dannenman, Josh Brikis, Mike Sica, Sirous Jamshidi, Will "The Thrill" Failla, Alex Bolotin, and Beth Shak. Two poker authors — David Apostolico and Matt Matros — were among the field of entrants as well, and while both fought gallantly for most of the day, neither survived to return on Saturday.
As the march of players to the rail continued, Frank Argano, Dylan Drazen, and Patrick Houchins, John Andress, and Edward Pham rose to the top of the counts. Argano in particular became involved in multiple large-pot hands as play neared its conclusion, pushing past 300,000 while leaving several eliminated players in wake.
When the final hands were dealt and the bags came out just after 1 a.m. local time, Argano was the one with the most chips to count with 310,000. Others who will be coming back to stacks of a quarter million or more include Roland Israelashvili, Drazen, Houchins, and Daniel "wildman75" Buzgon. Joe Chaplin, Eric Buchman, Russell Crane, and Michael "The Hugginator" Hug will also be among those returning to play more poker on Saturday.
Cards go back in the air in the Palladium Ballroom on Saturday at high noon, with 81 players still fighting for those top 45 paying spots and the ring at the end. Be sure to check PokerNews’ Live Reporting for coverage of all the action as that group plays down to the final table of nine.