The highly-anticipated Hard Rock Seminole Poker Open $10 Million Guarantee Championship kicked off on Thursday with Day 1a, and after attracting 634 entrants, the tournament is on pace to make the guarantee. Leading the approximately 200 survivors is Aaron Schaff, who bagged 326,600 chips. Schaff is a New Jersey native with just over $170,000 in career tournament earnings. His largest career score came here at the Seminole Hard Rock in 2010, when he finished sixth in the Fall Open Poker Championship for $56,577.
Joining Schaff atop the leader board are Tony Sinishtaj (267,700), legendary music producer Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo (238,700), and Giuseppe Pantaleo (223,000). Lorenzo plans to enjoy his two days off:
Finished Day 1 with 238,700. Started with 30K. Gonna jet to Puerto Rico and have some fun for a few… http://t.co/slKLKSGgzwFollow @irvgotti187
Irv Gotti wasn’t the only star in the field today. Fellow hip hop legend Cornell “Nelly” Haynes Jr. and actress Shannon Elizabeth also played, but only Elizabeth was able to bag chips.
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Another notables who survived the day include Matthew Waxman, Faraz Jaka, Chino Rheem, Nick Schulman, John Hennigan, Carlos Mortensen, Erik Seidel, Philipp Gruissem, Adam Levy, Paul Volpe, Bryn Kenney, Isaac Haxton, and Noah Schwartz. During the second-to-last level of the evening, Schwartz busted an unknown player with jacks against tens. The South Florida native’s hand held up, and he pushed his stack up to 155,000 chips.
Waxman also eliminated a player during the latter stages of the day, calling an all-in bet on the turn of a board. The all-in player showed , but it was no good against Waxman’s , and a meaningless completed the board.
Also in the field today were November Niners Amir Lehavot, Ryan Riess, and David Benefield. Lehavot finished with over six figures after eliminating Kyle Julius in the penultimate level of the day. Julius five-bet shoved with two queens, only to be called by Lehavot, the three-bettor, who had kings. The kings held, and all three November Niners will return on Sunday for Day 2.
Joining Julius among the casualties on Day 1a were Dan Shak, Lauren Kling, Jake Cody, Dan Buzgon, Justin Young, and 2012 November Niner Russell Thomas. Thomas was eliminated after rivering quad queens against an opponent who turned a straight flush.
The surviving players will return on Sunday at noon EDT, unless they bagged less than a starting stack and want to forfeit their chips, then they may return Friday or Saturday. Day 1b will begin on Friday at noon EDT, and is sure to attract another large field. Don't forget to check PokerNews during the day for player updates, features, and interviews from Hollywood, Florida.