2011 PCA main event: De Korver tops field in a day for the record books
At the far end of the 2011 main event's giant ballroom hangs a two-story high red PokerStars spade. In its center is a giant white star that if cut out could be sewn into a muumuu for a very large man. The banner serves a dual purpose: it hides the unwashed PokerStars Blog team from the masses, and it serves as a humungous reminder of why hundreds of people board a flight to Nassau every year. This is PokerStars' signature event, a live poker festival second in the world to only the World Series of Poker. It is a poker players' reunion that draws the world's best and most hopeful toward the scent of life-changing money.
It's here we found ourselves for the start of this 8th annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Day 1A drew 647 people for the $10,000 buy-in main event. It was a field awash with the biggest names in the game: Team PokerStars Pros, the cream of the online crop, and hundreds of PokerStars qualifiers. There was no table without one or two recognizable faces (including the golf world's Sergio Garcia, who will probably be sticking to links to make his money this year...he didn't make the Day 1A cut).
When the night was done, approximately 280 players remained. Finding the chip leader was a challenge. The final half an hour saw Pieter de Korver, Owen Crowe, and a host of others flirt with the 200,000 mark. While we're not going to bet the house on it, our best count has Team PokerStars Pro Pieter de Korver atop the chip counts with a cool 245,300. For reference, he started the day with 30,000.
While De Korver may be at the top, there were several impressive performances to note. Getting a lot of attention for their chip stacks (and rakish good looks) tonight are the likes of Ryan Olisar, Guillaume Gignac, and Owen Crowe who all spent the day on warm little heaters.
Here are some notable stacks heading into Day 2:
Ryan Olisar 227,700
Guillaume Gignac 219,600
Owen Crowe 213,000
Chad Eveslaje 203,500
Justin Scott 203,300
Bernard Lee 163,200
Joe Cada 105,200
Victor Ramdin 81,900
Dario Minieri 79,000
Phil Ivey 75,600
Marcin Horecki 73,500
Jose Barbero 61,300
Reuben Visser 48,000
Christian de Leon 19,900
There were some, too, however who failed to end the day with a smile. Chad Brown, Arnaud Mattern, Angel Guillen, Matthias de Meulder, Vanessa Selbst, Noah Boeken, and Dennis Phillips all made early exits.
Amid it all were a couple of the bigger poker stories to emerge in a while. As you have likely heard by now, Viktor Blom finally stood up and confirmed once and for all that he is, as suspected, Isildur1. His coming-out party took the form of a giant media crush and a $50/$100 heads-up match in which he took more than $20,000 off Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. We recently had a chance to chat with Blom. You'll find that story here: Finding Isildur1: Viktor Blom cops to his secret identity.
As that story happened in the middle of the room, one of the most expensive tournaments in history reached its climax. The $100,000 Super High Roller event finished with Eugene Katchalov and Daniel Negreanu battling it out for the title. While Negreanu ended up with a runner-up finish, he did manage to rise above Phil Ivey for the most career tournament earnings. Katchalov, for his part, won $1.5 million. Sgt. Major Stephen Bartley has that story here: Eugene Katchalov defeats Daniel Negreanu in Super Higher Roller finale
With those stories now a matter for history, we can turn our full attention to the main event. There is little question that Day 1B will dwarf the 647 players who played today. The only question is how much bigger it will be.
While we wait for that, the Day 1A players get a day off to play in the sun, ride a dolphin, or just reminisce about the day that was.
What? You missed it all? What have you been doing with your day? Fortunately, we have you covered. Go back and relive the moments as they happened by clicking any of the links below.
Or, check out this video wrap-up of the day.
We have a selected list of players' stacks available now, but check back later on our 2011 PCA main event chip count page for overnight counts on the entire Day 1A field. While you're waiting, go over to PokerStars.tv for a bunch of moving pictures from the day. Once you're done with that, test your foreign language skills and see if you can decipher the works of our Brazilian, Dutch, German, and Italian blogging brethren. That should keep you busy until we get back here tomorrow at noontime for the start of Day 1B.
Until then, we'll be hiding in our hotel rooms and doing our best to be responsible adults. For real this time.
Photography © Joe Giron/Joe Giron Photography