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2012-13 WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Day 1a: Drazen Ilich Leads; 64 Advance

Drazen Ilich

The World Series of Poker Circuit, presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof, continued on Friday with Day 1a of the $1,675 Main Event from the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. The stop, which is on the Circuit schedule for its third year, has developed a reputation as boasting some of the largest fields, and Day 1a was no exception as 466 players took to the felt. After 17 levels of play, that field was whittled down to just 64, with Drazen Ilich and his stack of 650,000 leading the way.

Day 1a Top 10 Chip Counts

1Drazen Ilich650,000
2"Cowboy" John Land482,000
3Andrew Watson315,500
4Brian Jordan279,000
5Brant Hale278,000
6TJ Cloutier276,500
7Doug Ashmore272,500
8Jeff Fielder263,000
9Richard Booker256,000
10Geoff Gafford250,500

Ilich did a good job chipping up throughout the day, but a big pot in the last hand of the night helped secure him the chip lead. It happened with the blinds at 1,500/3,000/500 in Level 17 when Ilich checked a flop of {5-Hearts}{j-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}, and his opponent fired 19,000, Ilich check-raised to 46,000, and the player moved all in for around 100,000. Ilich quickly called.

Ilich: {k-Clubs}{k-Spades}
Opponent: {a-Clubs}{q-Spades}

The turn was the {a-Spades}, prompting Ilich to slam the table angrily, but the {10-Clubs} fell on the river, giving him a straight.

Likewise, "Cowboy" John Land got many of his chips in the last level of the night. Land and two opponents saw a flop of {10-Hearts}{5-Clubs}{4-Spades}. One player led out for 12,500, the other moved all in for 42,000, and Land raised to what looked like 90,000 or so. The first player folded, and the hands were tabled.

Land: {4-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}
Opponent: {a-Spades}{10-Spades}

The turn was the {9-Spades}, giving Land's opponent a flush draw, but the {q-Diamonds} bricked on the river. Land's opponent was eliminated, and Cowboy raked in the big pot.

As if that wasn’t enough, on the very next hand, Land limped in from early position, and a player on the button moved all in. The action folded back to Land, who called and had the player dominated.

Land: {10-Clubs}{10-Hearts}
Opponent: {6-Spades}{6-Clubs}

The board ran out {3-Diamonds}{j-Spades}{3-Hearts}{2-Hearts}{9-Clubs}, and Land suddenly had over half a million chips.

There were also quite a few entertaining hands throughout the day. In addition to Andrew Watson doubling with a rare straight flush, which you can read about by clicking here, we also saw Jim Parker spike a one-outer to keep his tournament hopes alive.

It happened in Level 13 when a short-stacked Parker moved all in for 11,500 from the hijack with the {10-Spades}{10-Hearts} and received a call from the player in the small blind. Justin "Choctaw" Kruger then looked down at the {A-Clubs}{A-Spades} and moved all in over the top, and the small blind called off his last 14,000, although his hand was never shown before being mucked. The {10-Diamonds}{A-Hearts}{3-Hearts} flop gave both Parker and Kruger a set, but of course the latter's was out in front. The {5-Spades} turn meant Parker needed the case ten on the river, and wouldn't you know it, the {10-Clubs} spiked. Parker was all smiles, and even Kruger, who won the side pot to eliminate the small blind, couldn't help but laugh. "You can tell everybody you beat 'Choctaw' with a one-outer," Kruger said with a smile.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as Parker. The vast majority of players failed to make it to the end of the night. Among the notables eliminated were 2011 Choctaw champ Huy Nguyen; David Nicholson, who won a ring on Friday night in Event #9 $365 Pot-Limit Omaha; last year’s WSOP Circuit Choctaw Casino Champ Raja Kattamuri; four-time ring winner Ari Engel; 1986 WSOP Main Event champ Berry Johnston; Doug “Rico” Carli, who holds the all-time WSOP Circuit record for most cashes (70); and the defending champ Abraham Araya, who won $270,380 for last year’s victory. Fortunately, all these players have the option of re-entering in Day 1b.

Likewise, young up-and-comer AP Phahurat found himself on the rail late in the day. It happened in Level 12 with the blinds at 600/1,200/200 on a board reading {6-Spades}{J-Hearts}{10-Spades}{9-Hearts}. There was already 23,000 in the pot, and Phahurat had just bet 16,600 from the small blind, the big blind folded, and Jarral D'Andrea called from middle position.

When the {A-Hearts} completed the board on the river, Phahurat moved all in for around 27,000, and after contemplating the decision for a few moments, D'Andrea called off for 23,400 with the {9-Clubs}{9-Clubs}. Calling off was good because Phahurat showed {K-Spades}{2-Spades} for missed straight and flush draws. Phahurat was eliminated on the very next hand.

Few notables managed to punch their tickets to Day 2. They include Poker Hall of Famer T.J. Cloutier; six-time WSOP bracelet winner Layne Flack; Circuit regular Jeff Fielder; 2006 WSOP final table member Richard Lee; Mid-States Poker Tour superstar Matt Kirby; and Lee Abramson, who was involved in a late-night slow-roll controversy.

Day 1b, which is set to kick off at 12:00 CST on Saturday, is expected to draw a massive crowd, and it’s very much within the realm of possibility that last year’s field of 978 entrants could be surpassed. Be sure to join the PokerNews Live Reporting Team on Saturday as we bring you all the action from Day 1b of the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Casino Main Event.

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