We don't know what to say. This hardly ever happens to us. We don't know how to react when it happens this fast. It usually lasts a lot longer. We promise.
Somehow we managed to dispatch 52 players in less than seven hours of playing time. Using the word "somehow" there may be a bit disingenuous, because we know exactly "how." His name is Dominik Nitsche and he crushed more dreams today than American Idol and Britain's Got Talent combined.
We could tell you all about the 18-year-old high school student from Germany, how he called a player's all-in with 2♥5♥ because he could "read his soul," or we could just tell you about the only hand that really matters from the day.
Table consolidation played with the fates and put the two chip leaders right next to each other at the outer table. Dominik Nitsche and Mark Ioli had already shown they were gamblers, but we had no idea how much they'd try to prove it.
With the blinds at 4,000-8,000/500, Nitsche came in for a standard raise from the button. Ioli almost immediately announced raise from the small blind and nearly tripled Nitsche's bet. With barely a second of hesitation, Nitsche announced all-in. Ioli didn't even ask how much it was. He only asked, "You're all-in?" When confirmed half a second later, Ioli declared, "I call!"
He jumped from his seat and slammed K♣ Q♠ down on the table like it was pocket aces. Keep in mind, these two guys were the chip leaders. Nitsche had pushed for 352,000. He casually turned over K♥ T♥.
"Whooooo!" Ioli shouted. He jumped toward the ceiling, shoved his fist in the air and proclaimed, "I knew it!"
"Good call," someone said. Who said it, we don't know. We were busy snorting a whole bottle of smelling salts. And it was certainly--by definition!--a good call, but no one could help but be startled by the strength (or lack thereof) of the two hands tangling in an all-in pre-flop battle.
Despite the fact Ioli was well ahead, there was still the matter of the board running out.
The flop: A♥ 6♥ J♣.
"Oh, God," someone said.
Two hearts and a gutshot draw for the young German. How could it happen? How could any fate be so cruel? Friedrich Nietzsche might have said, "God is dead," but Dominik Nitsche had some higher power on his side, we're sure of that.
Ioli was suddenly drawing dead. He looked like someone had just burned down his house. And threw toilet paper in his trees. And shaved his dog. And painted it pink.
The final pot totaled more than 720,000 and slid over to Nitsche.
Ioli, for his part, was left with less than 200,000 and busted shortly thereafter.
By the time Nitsche's day was over, he was over the 800,000 mark, nearly twice what second place local boy, Segio Farias, had in his stack. Nitsche now holds 28% of the chips in play.
We can't dedicate this entire day-end wrap to Nitsche, however, because Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez has defied all the odds and proven he is probably immortal. We're not sure what Friedrich Nietzsche would say about Fernandez, but we're starting to think pretty highly of the guy.
Within the first few minutes of Day 1, Fernandez had been bad beat for 90% of his stack. Tonight, the newest member of Team PokerStars Pro has made the final table. How's he do it? Quietly. There were no huge swings, no ostentatious screaming, no pleading, "one time." He just did it. Like a pro.
Seven other folks from around the world will be joining those two men tomorrow for the final table. Here's how they stack up.
Dominik Nitsche -- Germany -- PokerStars qualifier --817,000
Sergio Farias -- Argentina -- 474,000
Jorge Landazuri -- Mexico --PokerStars qualifier -- 428,000
Jason Skeans -- United States --PokerStars qualifier -- 338,000
Leo Fernandez -- Argentina -- Team PokerStars Pro -- 329,000
Jose Ignacio Barbero -- Argentina -- PokerStars player -- 181,000
Rodolfo Awad -- Chile -- PokerStars qualifier -- 170.000
Derek Lerner -- Canada -- PokerStars qualifier -- 151.000
Alfons Fenjin -- Netherlands -- PokerStars qualifier -- 65,000
Final table play begins at 2pm local time (ET + 1 hour) on Sunday. Join us here for live coverage from the first flop to the last river.