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World Series of Poker National Championship Day 1: Vornicu Leads as 62 Advance

Valentin Vornicu

The World Series of Poker Southern Comfort 100 Proof National Championship kicked off on Wednesday as 126 players took to the felt at Harrah’s New Orleans for their shots at the first WSOP bracelet to ever be awarded on American soil outside of Las Vegas. After nine one-hour levels of play, 62 survived with Harrah’s Rincon Casino Champion Valentin Vornicu and his stack of 203,200 leading the way.

Top 10 End-of-Day-1 Chip Counts

1Valentin Vornicu203,200
2Brock Parker133,900
3Chris Parsons133,000
4Jarod Ludemann128,100
5Andrew Robinson117,900
6Jeff Gross117,100
7Ari Engel113,800
8Blake Barousse111,000
9Jeremy Ausmus109,200
10Joe Tehan107,600

Vornicu steadily built his stack throughout the day and added to it late at night when he eliminated WSOP bracelet winner Nick Jivkov. In Level 9 (500/1,000/100), Vornicu led out for 3,500 on a flop of {j-Spades}{9-Spades}{7-Diamonds}, Jivkov raised to 8,600, Vornicu then moved all in, and Jivkov tank-called off for 35,000 or so.

Vornicu: {9-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}
Jivkov: {j-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}

The {a-Diamonds} turned, giving Jivkov a flush draw, but the {9-Clubs} completed the board, giving Vornicu quads. With that, Vornicu extended his chip lead and never looked back.

Remember, there were only three ways to get a seat into the prestigious tournament — (1) win a WSOP Circuit Main Event or become Casino Champion, (2) earn enough points to finish in the top 60 on the National Leader Board, or (3) be among the top 100 on the WSOP Player of the Year List and buy in for $10,000. Day 1 was comprised of all the Main Event and Casino Champion winners, 62 at-large qualifiers and 26 players who forked over $10,000 to buy in. Registration will remain open up to the start of Day 2, so the last number will certainly change.

The day began slowly and went through three levels before the first elimination occurred when Brandon Fish, the Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino Champion, three-bet jammed with the {A-Hearts}{J-Hearts} only to be called by Ping Liu, who had opened with the {A-Diamonds}{Q-Diamonds}. Liu’s hand held, and Fish became the first casualty, though he was soon followed out the door by River Rock Main Event champ John Crncic and at-large qualifiers Charles “Woody” Moore and Michael Jukich.

Vanessa Selbst
Vanessa Selbst

One of the most feared players in the world, Vanessa Selbst, had her National Championship experience end at the tail of Level 4 (100/200/25). With 3,000 in the pot and a flop of {3-Diamonds}{j-Spades}{4-Clubs}, at-large qualifier Josh Reichard checked and Selbst bet 1,500. Reichard woke up with a check-raise to 3,500, then moved all in after Selbst had three-bet to 6,000. Selbst called off for approximately 15,000 holding the {K-Diamonds}{K-Spades}, but it was no good as Reichard had flopped a set with the {4-Clubs}{4-Hearts}.

Selbst was up out of her seat even before the dealer turned the {10-Hearts}. When the {4-Spades} completed the board on the river to give Reichard quad fours for the second time in the National Championship, Selbst gathered her things, wished her opponents luck and left the Harrah's New Orleans theater.

In Level 5 (150/300/25), Cord Garcia opened and a short-stacked Matt Glantz moved all in for 4,675. When action reached WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche in the big blind, he moved all in over the top and drove Garcia out of the pot.

Glantz: {2-Clubs}{2-Spades}
Nitsche: {K-Diamonds}{K-Spades}

It was a bad spot for Glantz, and according to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, he had just a 17.92% chance of surviving the hand while Nitsche was an 81.54% favorite. The {j-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{7-Hearts} flop was no help to Glantz, dropping his chances to 8.38%. The {9-Clubs} turn dropped it even further to 4.55%, but it also made a 9.09% chance of there being a chop. Unfortunately for Glantz, the {J-Clubs} blanked on the river, and he was bounced from the tournament.

Many more would join Selbst and Glantz on the rail as the day progressed including five-time ring winner and IP Biloxi champ Kyle Cartwright, at-large qualifier Aaron Massey, Horseshoe Hammond Casino champion Mike Leah, two-time bracelet winner Eric Froehlich, six-time ring winner Alex Masek, and all-time WSOP Circuit ring leader Chris Reslock.

While many fell, plenty of notables managed to punch their tickets to Day 2, including at-large qualifier Jarod Ludemann (128,100), “Professional Best Friend” Jeff Gross (117,100), National Points leader Ari Engel (113,800), October Niner Jeremy Ausmus (109,200), Harrah’s Philadelphia Main Event Champion Rex Clinkscales (80,200), WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche (72,000), 2012 WSOP Main Event runner-up Jessie Sylvia (57,600), three-time ring winner Nancy Birnbaum (37,200) and last year’s National Championship sixth-place finisher David “ODB” Baker (19,900), to name a few.

Day 2 will kick off at noon CST as the remaining field seeks to play down to the final table of eight. Once registration is closed at the start of play, the prize pool and payout information will be released. Be sure to join the PokerNews Live Reporting Team then for that information as well as all the action from the Southern Comfort 100 Proof National Championship!

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