2023 WSOP Day 1: Big Guns Turn Out in Force for the $25K High Roller; Razaei Leads

Daniel Rezaei

The wait is finally over; the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is underway at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas! It feels like it has been forever since the PokerNews Live Reporting team was last on the ground, bringing you all of the action from the WSOP, but here we are again, ready for another summer of incredible poker action.

Day 1 of the 2023 WSOP saw two events shuffle up and deal: the $500 Casino Employees event and the eagerly anticipated $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed. The $500 Casino Employees saw its 1,015-strong field whittled to a more manageable 89 over the course of 17 levels, while the $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed ended with only 65 of the 187 entrants in contention for a WSOP bracelet.

Daniel Rezaei Gets Off to a Flying Start in the $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed

Event #2: $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed is a new addition to the WSOP schedule, with last year's equivalent played as an 8-handed tournament. Day 1 saw 187 entrants, including re-entries, enter the fray, although that number is set to increase because late registration remains open until the start of Day 2 on May 31.

As you would expect from such a prestigious tournament, dozens of elite-level players bought into the first big buy-in event of the summer. When the curtain came down on Day 1 proceedings, and the dust had settled, only 65 players had chips requiring bagging and tagging. Nobody crammed more betting tokens into the overnight bag than Austria's Daniel Rezaei.

End of Day 1 Top 10 Chip Counts

PlacePlayerCountryChipsBig Blinds
1Daniel RezaeiAustria1,368,000137
2Justin LibertoUnited States1,147,000115
3Brek SchuttenUnited States1,050,000105
4Sean WinterUnited States1,047,000105
5Brock WilsonUnited States1,009,000101
6Keith LehrUnited States997,000100
7Bin WengUnited States975,00098
8Christopher BrewerUnited States899,00090
9Bill KleinUnited States888,00089
10Samuel LaskowitzUnited States790,00079

Rezaei finished Day 1 in the envious position of chip leader, having turned his 150,000 starting stack into a colossal pile worth 1,368,000, or 137 big blinds on Day 2 if you prefer. The Austrian built a substantial stack early into Day 1 and was propelled to the chip counts' summit when he eliminated Shannon Shorr during the seventh level of the evening. Razaei turned a flush, which crushed Shorr's middle pair. Shorr re-entered and finished with 304,000.

Four other players return to their seats armed with seven-figure stacks. Justin Liberto (1,147,000), Brek Schutten (1,050,000), Sean Winter (1,047,000), and Brock Wilson (1,009,000) is that big stacked quartet.

Keith Lehr (997,000), Bin Weng (975,000), Christopher Brewer (899,000), Bill Klein (888,000), and Samuel Laskowitz (790,000) round out the current top ten.

Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Sean Winter
Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Sean Winter

Further down the chip counts, but still in with a shot of glory is a whole host of stellar names. Adrian Mateos (775,000) is lurking just outside the top ten, while Daniel Negreanu (610,000), on his second $25,000 bullet, is in the top 20.

Also still in the mix are such luminaries as reigning WSOP Main Event champion Espen Jorstad (563,000), Kristen Foxen (411,000), Isaac Haxton (355,000), the legendary Phil Hellmuth (340,000), Brian Rast (230,000), and Justin Bonomo (228,000). Shaun Deeb (75,000) sits down on Day 2 with the shortest stack.

Play resumes at noon local time on May 31, and PokerNews will be on hand to bring you all of the action as it happens.

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PokerNews' Jesse Fullen Second in Chips Going Into Day 2

Jesse Fullen
Jesse Fullen

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Day 1 is done and dusted. Some 1,015 players bought in, up from 832 last year, but only 89 will return for Day 2 on May 31. PokerNews' very own Jesse Fullen finds himself second in chips and with a realistic chance of having to work the rest of the series with a gold WSOP adorning his wrist.

You may recall that PokerNews' Chad Holloway triumphed in this very event in 2013. Holloway is still in the mix in the 2023 edition, although his 211,000 stack places him 59th at the restart.

Chad Holloway
Chad Holloway

On the other hand, Fullen scooped a massive pot during the final level of the night, one that catapulted him toward the top of the chip counts. Fullen flopped a full house, eights full of threes, and eliminated Terra Dorvall, who held a pair of tens on the hole. The turn and river did not help Dorvell, and Fullen flew up the leaderboard.

Only Benson Tam (889,000) has more chips than Fullen right now.

At least both Fullen and Holloway faired better than PokerNews' Senior Content Manager, Yori Epskamp. Epskamp three-bet all-in with ace-king over an opening raise from David Eaton, made with the dominated ace-seven of diamonds. Eaton called and flopped a flush draw, which came in on the turn, leaving Epskamp drawing dead. Epskamp collected $876 for his efforts.

End of Day 1 Top 10 Chip Counts

PlacePlayerCountryChipsBig Blinds
1Benson TamUnited States889,00089
2Jesse FullenUnited States861,00086
3Lisa EcksteinUnited States775,00078
4Zaen QatanUnited States773,00077
5James UrbanicUnited States618,00062
6John VournasUnited States613,00061
7Burcu DagliUnited States583,00058
8Joshua HoneggerUnited States529,00053
9Joshua BrodskyUnited States527,00053
10Sandra FaabengUnited States499,00050

Others that bagged and tagged sizeable stacks include Lisa Eckstein (775,000), Zaen Qatan (773,000), and James Urbanic (618,000).

Reigning champion Katie Kopp went deep in the event but ultimately fell short of the money places, as did 2021 champion James Barnett.

Play resumes at 10:00 a.m. and continues until only one player has all the chips in play. That player will become a WSOP champion and receive $75,535 in addition to the all-important WSOP bracelet.

What Events Are Running on Day 2 of the 2023 WSOP?

May 31 is Day 2 of the 2023, and it is packed with action. Event #1: $500 Casino Employees and Event #2: $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed play out their respective Day 2s, while Event #3: $1,000 Mystery Millions, Event #4: Tournament of Champions, and Event #5: $1,500 Dealer's Choice 6-Handed all kick off at the Horseshoe Paris Las Vegas.

  • The 2023 World Series of Poker got off to an explosive start on May 30.

  • Check out what went down on Day 1 of the 2023 World Series of Poker.

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