Day 1a of Mid-States Poker Tour Majestic Star attracted 122 entrants, and after 14 levels of play only 25 remained. The race for the chip lead was heated between two Illinois natives — Joel Casper, who bagged 263,000, and Bob Chow, who bagged a bit less with 228,500.
According to Casper, he made a huge call with ace high on the river during one of the final hands of the night to vault past Chow on the leader board. Both players have more than $600,000 in live tournament cashes, and each is hoping to repeat a past success at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana, a venue where they have both claimed a victory worth more than $100,000.
Other notables among the 25 to bag at end of the night were World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner Bryan Schultz (160,000), Mike Mustafa (158,000), Brian Zimcosky (156,500), Mike Deis (105,000), Brandon Meyers (70,000), and WSOP bracelet winner and PokerNews Senior Editor Chad Holloway (61,500).
Of course, not everyone was so lucky. Among those to hit the rail were Nicholas Aranda, Zal Irani, Paul Bianchi, Mike Holm, Bryan Moon, Larry Ormson, Brett Kuznia, David Gutfreund, Joe Hebda, and Leon Morford, who finished second at this event in March.
Irani met his end in the middle of the day at the hands of Holloway. In a multi-way pot, Holloway checked from the small blind with a board reading . Two other players checked to Irani, who bet 6,000 from late position. Another player folded, and then Holloway check-raised all in for roughly 20,000. Action folded to Irani and he wasted little time in calling off his remaining 8,000.
Holloway had the best of it with a turned straight, but he needed to dodge the board pairing. A harmless fell on the river, and he collected his opponent's stack.
“Winning the pot against Zal was nice, but a short time later I was gifted even more chips,” Holloway explained. “I raised with the and received a couple callers. Another player then three-bet, a bunch of us called, and I flopped the stone-cold nuts after it came down . Action checked to the three-bettor, and he just shoved for 15,000 or so. I moved in as well, and after the others folded my opponent turned over . I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’m glad he did it as that hand gave me a bunch of chips.”
Another player who did well on Day 1a was Deis, who spent the majority of the day at the top of the chip counts, though a late setback cost him a huge chunk of his stack. If Deis can book a cash, he looks likely to catch Kou Vang, who did not make a Day 1a appearance, at the top of the MSPT Player of the Year leaderboard.
Day 1b will begin on Saturday at 4 p.m. local time, and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to bring you all the action in our Live Reporting section.