The epic first day of action is in the books, and over a thousand players have been reduced to just over 600 hopefuls. Yes, Day 1 of the phenomenal $25,000-entry PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) is in the books and after the day completed, British poker star Chris Moorman was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Chinese player Tony Tran.

Epic Start Sees Buffer Kick Off “Carnage”

The start of any poker tournament with a $25,000 buy-in is exciting, but the prizepool already being at over $24 million meant that by the time cards went into the air, the atmosphere in the Baha Mar Resort was, as many observed first-hand, ‘crazy’. Legendary announcer Bruce Buffer made sure that the spirit of Nevada was in Nassau as he welcomed players and roared out the traditional “Shuffle Up and Deal!” hype.

Once the poker got underway, many big names actually busted. These included but weren’t limited to Spanish high roller Juan Pardo, Sergio Coutinho, poker trainer Kevin Rabichow, legendary tournament crusher Chino Rheem, WSOP bracelet winner Stephen Song, and Romanian professional Alexandre Papazian.

Papazian was one of the first players to hit the rail, his jacks full on the river not good enough against the kings full turned over by PSPC ticket winner Hugo Rodilla. He was among many PSPC ‘Platinum Pass’ winners who survived the day such as Chad McVean, Dinesh Alt and Antonio Ramon Munoz.

Moorman and Tran Lead the Way

There is only one Day 1 in the structure of this infamous event, which is a contributory factor as to why 678 players survived from 1,005 entries, with the average stack at around 90,000 chips – good for 75  big blinds. That was some way short of the overnight joint chips leaders, as Chris Moorman and Tony Tran both racked up 356,000 chips to end the day ahead of everyone else who made Day 2. Moorman, the world’s most successful online tournament poker player in history, with over $16.5 million in online winnings supplemented by over $6.5m at the live felt, heralded his overnight success on Twitter.

Behind Moorman and Tran sits a four-time WSOP bracelet winner who will fear no-one in his pursuit of glory – Josh Arieh. The popular professional ended the night on 312,500, plenty over 200 big blinds and a stack that will strike fear into those who know his remarkable ability to make deep runs in MTT events such as this. Arieh will push for the win at all costs and must be one of the favorites to do so even at this early stage.

Behind the trio at the top, plenty of other luminaries of the poker scene lie in wait ominously. Bastian Hess (295,000) and Martin Zamani (287,000) close out the top five, while Fernando Pons Garcia (282,500) and Arlie Shaban (259,000) are not far behind, with Team Online Pro Shaban sure to be thrilling his many fans with his sprint to the top ten after the opening day’s play.

Aaron Olechnowicz (258,000), former WPT Main Event winner Eric Afriat (250,500) and German player Oskar Prehm (242,000) were all in the top 10 when play concluded on Day 1, with Prehm’s161 big blinds indicative of the strength everyone inside the top 10 chipcounts hold over their Day 2 opponents from the off.

Other Big Names Book Day 2 Seats

A lot of poker’s biggest names remain in contention as Day 2 looms, with registration still open. Online phenom Landon Tice spent much of his day taking part in some of the excellent coverage premiered by Poker Org on their debut at the PSPC, but he still found time to ‘grab a bag’ after ‘scamming’ his opponents.

Not so down with the language of the youth but nevertheless a perennial favorite is Chris Moneymaker, whose rise to fame in the aftermath of his epic 2003 Main Event win continues to resonate even today. The Americas Cardroom pro initially reported an extremely rollercoaster kind of day at the felt, telling his Twitter followers that at the “End of level 1 go from 60k start to 28k. End of level 2 back to 90k. Don’t like the elevator this early. Gonna step off.” However, by the close of play, Moneymaker – real name Chris Bryan Smith – was happy enough.

Another ‘dinosaur’ player to some young fans who need to do their poker homework might be Greg Raymer. OK, that’s a segue, but it’s worth it, because ‘Fossilman’ proved he doesn’t need digging up after starring at the felt courtesy of winning his PSPC Platinum Pass in the CardPlayer Lifestyle Mixed Games Festival $200 H.O.R.S.E. event some years ago. Raymer initially took a knock to his stack, but more than recovered to end the day healthier than most.

Here’s how that top 10 leaderboard looks ahead of what is sure to be a thrilling Day 2 in The Bahamas.

2023 PokerStars Players Championship Day 1 Top 10 Chipcounts:

Position Player Country Chips Big Blinds
=1st Chris Moorman United Kingdom 356,000 237
=1st Tony Tran China 356,000 237
3rd Josh Arieh U.S.A. 312,500 208
4th Bastian Hess Germany 295,000 197
5th Martin Zamani U.S.A. 287,000 191
6th Fernando Pons Garcia Spain 282,500 188
7th Arlie Shaban Canada 259,000 173
8th Aaron Olechnowicz Mexico 258,000 172
9th Eric Afriat Canada 250,500 167
10th Oskar Prehm Germany 242,000 161


Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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