It is the end of the third of four days ones here at the World Series of Poker and this tournament is almost beginning to take shape. There's still a long way to go, but patterns are emerging and, typically, Team PokerStars Pro are looming large.
Chief among the giants today is the most famous players in the history of the game. On the fifth anniversary of his magical win Chris Moneymaker finished his day one with around about 50,000 in chips, which is a great place to be coming back to day two.
Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker
Darren Keyes, from Toronto, in particular, can keep his eye on the big spin up as he finished the day with close to 50,000 and is sitting comfortably among the 1,000-odd players that remain from the 1,928 who started today.
After a brutal opening couple of days for Team PokerStars Pro, during which many of the game's top names were sent spiralling out of the tournament, today was relatively prosperous. Seven Team PokerStars Pros, including Moneymaker, started their bracelet hunts today, and although we lost young guns Gavin Griffin and Steve Paul-Ambrose early on, with Andre Akkari perishing in the final level, the likes of Isabelle Mercier, Bill Chen, Joe Hachem and ElkY survived. The latter played with Akkari for most of the day, affording a neat photo-opportunity.
ElkY with Andre Akkari in the foreground
The surviving Teamsters will join John Duthie, Barry Greenstein, Vanessa Rousso, Noah Boeken and Vicky Coren on day two.
It was another good day for the Team in other ways too, most notably in the acquisition of Alexandre Gomes to the line-up. Gomes became the first Brazilian ever to win a World Series bracelet when he took down the $2,000 no limit event last week, and now joins countryman Akkari on the Team.
PokerStars sponsored players also made hay in the Amazon Room today. Kara Scott, who is sponsored here in return for her fine work as the anchor of the EPT television coverage, showed that she has plenty of strings to her bow, poker very much among them.
Scott catapulted to near the chip lead early in the day, before consolidating her stack of close to 60,000 through the final levels, before another huge leap right at the death with aces that got her close to 100,000.
We also met a number of those PokerStars players who have a tendency to go very deep here. One of those is named Andrew Tisler and he has the best prospects of them all. Tisler sat behind dark aviator sunglasses, shades that matched his grim poker face and made him difficult to approach. It was only after he cracked a smile that we realized his tough-guy persona is saved for when he’s in a hand.
Turns out, Tisler gives away more money than he takes on any given day. The Chicago-area loan officer saves cards for his free time. “I play recreationally online,” Tisler said. Then, with several towering stacks of big-denomination chips in front of him, he took his big blind and prepared to play out the final hands of the night. The official counts aren’t in yet, but 170,000 or so chips make him look good for the chip lead leaving the day.
Fellow PokerStars player Vincent Caesar, meanwhile, spent the whole of his first day in major tournament poker seated across the television table from Mike Matusow.
Caesar has never played a tournament of this size before but is hoping for a big score to pay for his wedding in September. He not only lived to tell the tale from his day under lights with the Mouth, but he'll be back to fight another day as well.
The field is still stocked with other PokerStars players who will surely come to prominence in the coming week. Here is the place to follow their progress.
Last year, one of their number was Hevad "RaiNKhan" Khan, who went all the way to the final table and a huge payday. This year, Hevad is back as a fully-fledged member of Team PokerStars Pro, and he has been hanging out with the video blog team in the run up to the main event, giving an insight into the preparations of a champion. The first part is now available below, with two further parts to follow.