2011 PCA $25K High Roller: Fair start for Fair in eye-popping field

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgLet's just start by being brutally honest: nobody expected the $25,000 High Roller tournament at the PCA to be as big as it is. PokerStars, the PCA staff, the tournament directors, and we lowly writers all had the under on 100 players. The line shifted a lot in the last 24 hours, but most people in the know figured it would be tough to get close to the 84 players who sat down last year.

Why? Well, there were a number of reasons. Chief among them was that this year's high roller was not part of the televised PCA schedule. Adding to the reduced expectations was the $100,000 Super High Roller event, which is a bankroll buster for a lot of folks.

So, when 151 people signed up for today's $25,000 event, no one was ready for it. As tournament director Mike Ward briefed the dealers this morning, he believed there was no reason to play a long day today, because it would be easy to get down to a final table on Saturday. It's a rare occurrence, but this time Ward was incorrect.

The result was a tournament with a prize pool worth $3.7 million in which 16 players will get paid. When it's all said and done, the winner will pick up more than $1 million. All of it has, quite frankly, knocked the socks off everybody here.

At day's end, there were fewer than 100 players remaining. Atop the counts sits Ryan Fair who took eight hours to turn his 50,000 starting stack into 217,200.


While that stack is good enough to get his picture on the top of the PokerStars Blog for a few hours, Fair is going to have a tough fight ahead on Day 2 when faced with the stacks of some of the other top players. Here are a few of the people gunning for the top spot and a chance to play at the final table.

  • Tyler Reiman (205,400)
  • Kyle Julius (173,500)
  • Defending champion William Reynolds (170,800)
  • Jamie Armstrong (170,100)
  • There are more than a few Team PokerStars Pros left with a chance at at the million-dollar first prize. They include: Andre Akkari (63,300), Humberto Brenes (52,600), Joe Cada (22,300), Joe Hachem (55,500), Alex Gomes (84,600), Leo Fernandez (167,600), Alex Kravchenko (21,100), Johnny Lodden (34,300), Max Lykov (164,200), Juan Maceriras (137,700), Jason Mercier (75,600), Sandra Naujoks (17,900), and Vanessa Rousso (79,100).


    Leo Fernandez

    It's at this point that we normally offer a list of the top names who didn't make it though the day. In this field, that would be every elimination. Honestly, we just don't have the time to do that, as there is a man carving a turkey with our name on it at the PokerStars party. We should mention, in any case, that ElkY, Isildur1, Exclusive, RaSZi, and John "I don't have a fancy young gun nickname" Duthie all started today, but did not make it to the end. Jonathan Duhamel also busted at the end of the day. We'd weep, but of everyone in the field, we know we'll see all three of those men again sooner than we will our children and pets.

    Viktor "Isildur1" Blom

    Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis

    And that is the unexpected day that was Day 1 of the $25,000 High Roller. It was nothing if not a sock-knocking surprise.

    If you'd prefer a blow-by-blow of the day, we have that right here in easy-to-follow, time-stamped, level-by-level updates. Live it as we did by clicking any of the minty-fresh links below.

    Levels 1 & 2
    Levels 3 & 4
    Levels 5 & 6
    Levels 7 & 8

    But, hey, it's Friday night, right? If you're in the Bahamas, you should be at the PokerStars party. If you're not, you're probably enjoying an evening of revelry after a hard week's work. So, if you want the bare bones of it, you can check out the $25,000 High Roller chip counts where we've posted some selected counts from the end of play (and will update later on this evening with official chip stacks). If you'd like a taste of what they're playing for, we have that on the PokerStars.tv and the German, Italian, Brazilian and Dutch blogs.

    If you're still itching for poker coverage, our lot will be back tomorrow afternoon to pick up with main event final table coverage. Our team is also on the World Cup of Poker VII and $5,000 Bounty Shootout.

    Finally, for continued coverage of the High Roller event, check back here tomorrow at noontime when the remaining players come back to play (forever) down to a final table.

    That really has to do it for the night. The PokerStars party is only going to go on for another hour and our room portfolios require we seek out free food wherever we can find it. We'll be there as long as they are carving the turkey.


    Photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography