After 17 grueling levels of poker, Day 1a of the World Series of Poker Circuit Harrah's Tunica Main Event has come to a close. Hitting the felt, 272 runners, only 37 of whom survived by the end of play. Leading the field, Bryan Campanello, who will be taking a stack of 467,000 into Day 2. Campanello, fresh off of his final-table appearance at the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Main Event, grabbed hold of the chip lead late in the day and just kept climbing.
Rounding out the top three in chips are Chali Abebe (373,000) and Blake Whittington (370,500). Coming in fourth in chips is none other than Cary Marshall, champion of the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit Harvey's Lake Tahoe Main Event. Marshall played a very aggressive game for most of the day and it paid off. He never relinquished his spot among the leaders of the tournament.
Other notable names who will return to the felt for Day 2 include David Clark (288,000), Kyle Cartwright (161,500), last-woman-standing Patricia Pate (118,000), Matthew Colvin (111,500), Aaron Massey (104,00) and Mark Maletic (69,000).
Also returning on Day 2 will be Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler. Kessler was quiet for a majority of the day but found his stack growing almost in an instant late in the day. A short-stacked Kessler was able to flop trips during one hand to double up and then double up the very next hand again through Massey.
With the blinds at 1,200/2,400/400, Kessler then dealt the killing blow to Claudia Crawford when the two took a flop of . After unknown flop action, the turn brought the and Kessler tapped the table. Crawford moved 25,000 into the center, and Kessler wasted little time making it 61,000 to go. Crawford announced all in and Kessler, who had her covered by a mere 2,000, called.
Kessler flopped the nut flush, and Crawford flopped middle set. Crawford still had outs to make a full house and finish with the best hand, but when the struck the river her fate was sealed. She exited roughly two hours before the end of the day while Kessler's stack increased to over 200,000. Kessler finished the day with 184,500 and will be bringing that stack into Day 2.
While the aforementioned players thrived, others saw all of their chips vanish before the end of play. Players like former WSOP November Niner John Dolan, Ari Engel, AP Phahurat, Seneca Easley, Tripp Kirk, Andrew Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker and defending champion Kurt Jewell were all among those sent to the rail. Hope remains for those players; however, they all have the option of re-entering for the Day 1b flight.
Day 1b kicks off at 12:00 CST in the Harrah's Tunica Event Center. Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for all of the updates as players take their last chance to make Day 2.