The first ever World Series of Poker Circuit series in North Carolina continued on Saturday with Day 1b of the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event. A huge field of 502 came out for the second of two Day 1 flights, and at night’s end, Rufus “Rick” Hensley of Morganton, NC rode a furious late-night rush to end with 401,400 chips and the overall chip lead to head into Sunday’s Day 2.
Hensley will begin play on Sunday well ahead of nearest competitors Joe Stark (313,000) and George Zinaty (312,300), who also played Saturday, and Day 1a’s best finisher David Nicholson (260,400).
Top 10 Chip Counts - Start of Day 2
Ultimately, 118 players survived from the 502 who played Day 1b. On Friday there were 83 survivors from the 354 entrants, meaning 201 players will begin play on Sunday, with the event scheduled to play down to a winner on Monday’s Day 3.
Several of those playing Day 1b had re-entered the event after busting on Friday. Among those, Josh Arieh, Christopher Kirkland, Kirk Shelmerdine, Yuval Bronshtein, Carter Phillips and Ryan Riess all came up short a second time. Meanwhile Ken Aldridge, Jeff Williams and Chris Bell were part of the group who had busted once yet were able to survive to make Day 2.
Jonathan Moseley and Darryl Harvey surged to the top of the counts early on Saturday. Then as the day progressed, Zinaty became the first player to reach 200,000, with Stark, Nilesh Choudhary, Chun Law and Sean Small also building big stacks as the night drew to a close.
But it was Hensley who during the final hour of the night pushed past everyone, knocking out several players along the way to build his leading stack of 401,400. Hensley will begin Day 2 with nearly five times the average amount of chips of those who remain.
The 856 total entries makes the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event the fourth largest thus far during the 2012-13 season. The total prize pool is $1,284,000, with the top 90 finishers scheduled to divide that money. The player finishing first will win a gold ring, a $250,380 first prize, and an entry into the $10,000 WSOP Circuit National Championship in May. Harrah’s Cherokee is putting the winner into the 2013 WSOP Main Event as well.
Play resumes at Harrah’s Cherokee at noon on Sunday. Be sure to check back then for live updates on PokerNews.