After 16 levels of play at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Day 1a of the Borgata Winter Poker Open's first event come to a close Tuesday evening. Event #1 is a $500 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry event, and with a guaranteed prize pool of $2 million, more than 1,000 players took their shots (and in the case of players who re-entered, quite a few shots) at a massive score.
A total of 1,212 entries were recorded on Day 1a, and tournament officials expect the house to be packed tomorrow, as Day 1b and Day 1c are played concurrently. Add in the recent conclusion of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where many of poker's brightest stars were in attendance, and Wednesday's action should be thrilling from start to finish.
That was the case here on Tuesday as well, with hundreds of local grinders, home game heroes and even online qualifiers flocking to the Borgata to try their hands. There were a few notable names in the house, but defending WPT Winter Poker Open Main Event champion Andy Hwang, actor and poker enthusiast James Woods, and tournament veteran Men "The Master" Nguyen all fell short.
At the end of the day it was Torrey Korsog who emerged as the chip leader, as his 372,000 stack just nipped Johnson Nguyen and Roger Wellman, who each held 361,000 at day's end. For the honor of claiming the chip lead, Korsog was awarded a cool $2,000 from the Borgata, while Nguyen and Wellmann split a $1,000 prize.
Korsog is an experienced tournament player, having taken down a $600 NLHE event at the 2013 Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza III. He earned $68,312 for that win, and with the most chips in the room here today he is well on his way to another big cash.
The other big stacks include Randy Pfeifer (345,500), Robert "Uncle Krunk" Panitch (319,300), Erik Lefkowitz (297,200), Mike Ortiz (276,500) and John Fava (265,000).
Panitch got a much-needed double near the end of the day when his held up against Mark Cincotta's after all the chips went in preflop. Cincotta frantically called for a queen after the flopped, but the and left him with naught but a four-flush.
You may remember Panitch - or his unlikely moniker - from last year's ESPN broadcast of the WSOP Circuit National Championship, where "Uncle Krunk" finished in 3rd place and earned more than $150,000.
A total of 201 runners survived the day in Event #1, bagging and tagging to return on Day 2, but this event's unique format allows any of these players to come back Wednesday and try to build a bigger stack. When Day 2 begins, the biggest stack an individual player has built is theirs to keep, so we expect to see a few familiar faces in the field tomorrow.
Check back in at 10 a.m. local time to follow all the action as the game's most feared professionals show up with fresh tans to take on New Jersey's best. Day 1b and Day 1c will be played simultaneously, and tournament officials expect more than 2,000 players to show up, so the action will be fast and furious from the start. The PokerNews live reporting team will be here for the duration, bringing you all the bad beats and bustouts in real time, so check in early often to follow the progress here at the Borgata Winter Poker Open.