2008 Day 1A in the books

by Howard Swains and Brad Willis

You don't win a poker tournament on the first day. But you can definitely lose one. And for about 320 of the 556 players who started the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure today, their dream of rolling in a bundle of banknotes on a paradise beach is already over. The starting stack of 20,000, costing $8,000 real money, soon disappeared.

The cash games are already remarkably lively here in the Bahamas -- especially the one featuring Dario Minieri, the Team PokerStars Pro member, who made his way out of the tournament sometime this afternoon. His teammates Luca Pagano, Tuan Lam and Katja Thater also perished. Flopped sets, turned straights and pocket kings, not good enough, respectively.

Still, while (to repeat) you can't win a poker tournament on the first day, it's definitely possible to go to sleep feeling pretty good about your nine hours' work. Sleeping most soundly tonight is Ryan Collett, a PokerStars qualifier from the United States, who finished the day at the summit, with 176,450. Collett just graduated with a Masters degree in electrical engineering.

"Right now, I'm playing full time," he said.

As the day ended, Collett stuffed his chips into the chip bag and entertained a few questions from the media. As he did so, something in the physics of a chip-lead caused no small number of his chips to explode out of the bag and onto the floor. While some people speculated he had enough to lose a couple, Collett was not at all relaxed. On his hands and knees, he made sure he had every chip. When he was certain, he sealed his bag and prepared to walk away. As his foot lifted off the carpet, one black chip appeared. Worth 100, it was the equivalent of one ante.

Collett looked up at the dealer and said, "I'm going to need a new bag."


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Just a few tables away sat Steve Paul-Ambrose. He won this event in 2006 and came tantalizingly close to making the final table last year. It's starting to look like Paul-Ambrose owns this tournament. Tonight, he sits in what appears to be second place with 170,925.

Humble, sometimes to a fault, he shrugged. "I got kings a lot." When pressed to stop being so humble, he allowed, "Basically, people never folded and I got a lot of good hands."

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To become the first double winner of the PCA, however, Paul-Ambrose will have to best six other of his team-mates, among all the others, with the new slimline Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier currently his closest rival. "Elky" has somewhere in the region of 123,000. Also in the mix are Andre Akkari, Humberto Brenes and Victor Ramdin. There's also some guy named Moneymaker floating around with close to 50,000.

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Other players with top chip stacks tonight include Eric Lynch, better known as "Rizen", with 141,000. Johan Bergquist, an EPT regular from Sweden, is also among the leaders with 120,000. The full, accurate run down of all players' stacks will be with us shortly.

It was a good day too for one of the well-known faces who made the trip to Nassau. David Wells -- yes, the pitcher -- rocketed to the 90,000 mark before some players had even taken their seats. He's stayed comfortably on that kind of level for the duration of the day. He'll come back to the mound on day two with 88,000.

Finding the way to day's end was not possible for everyone. You might recall, this time last year, a young Jim Morrison-esqe Brown student named Isaac Haxton was getting ready to start his blitzkrieg that landed him at the 2007 PCA final table. Today, Haxton couldn't get any traction. At the end of Level 6, Haxton went racing with pocket nines couldn't win the flip.

Tonight, as the chips fall in the bags, everyone realizes the futility of trying to pick a winner. There is still another full flight to play before we even start Day 2. Tournament organizers are expecting in excess of 600 players in Day 1B. Of course, the PokerStars Blog will be here with full coverage.

Be sure to check out the PCA chip counts and updated PCA information.

Here's a look at all the coverage from Day 1A of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

Rumble on the horizon
Cards in the air
From Brazil to baseball
Turning nothing into something
The Incredible Shrinking ElkY
Team PokerStars Pro minus one
Day 1A Rail Report
Dressed for Success
Off the mound with David Wells
Reason to celebrate
Making moves with Moneymaker

Tomorrow, we start all this again. Day 1B begins at noon ET. Join us then.