PCA 2013: Gruissem leads record field in Super High Roller

For a tournament that costs $100,000 to play it might appear odd for there to be so much laughing. As play began there were giggles coming from everywhere - Scott Seiver, Jason Mercier, Dan Shak, Daniel Negreanu and Doc Sands. We may not hear their voices, but you can tell a man apart by the sound of his laugh.

What's so funny about a tournament that costs so much to play? While the likes of mere mortals will probably never know, the Super High Rollers are content to see the funny side of something most people would find hard to fathom.

The Royal Tower

The winner on Monday will have plenty of reasons to keep smiling. The field of 47 (several of whom re-entered) makes this the largest Super High Roller of its kind, although the exchange rate forbids talk of the richest. It'll mean a winner's check of some magnitude, and one which could easily become richer given that registration remains open until tomorrow.

It was a day of staggered arrivals. One player tempted by late registration was Phil Hellmuth who turned up after the dinner break to flirt with the cameras before making a decision to jump in. It was a short-lived excursion, the big man himself busting in less time that it takes to count out $100,000.

But the story at the close is not of those who nearly didn't play, but of the 47 that did, led at the close by Philipp Gruissem.

Chip leader: Philipp Gruissem

Gruissem turned a starting stack of 250,000 into a closing one of 771,500. The nature of the game is that we never understand entirely how a player's day progressed, but in Gruissem's case it may simply be that the plan he used to win two High Rollers in 2011, still works.

The day had started some ten hours earlier.

Phil Ivey arrived fashionably late, Jason Somerville too, both swapping the cost of three years at Harvard for a printed receipt with a seat number stamped on it.

Phil Ivey

Among the early risers Eugene Katchalov started well, as did Ashton Griffin and of course Vanessa Selbst. Mike McDonald took the last of Jason Koon's chips to start his campaign, Koon becoming the first player to depart. Bryn Kenney would be the second.

McDonald would suffer after the dinner break though, running pocket eights into Timothy Adams' ace, that was paired by the flop. Adams would deliver the coup de grace moments later.

Steve O'Dwyer can also claim to have had a good day at the office, the pivotal hand for the American being his near elimination of Philipp Gruissem with aces against the German's ace-king. This led to Gruissem's departure and subsequent re-entry, a decision that so far has proven prudent.

Steve O'Dwyer

Gruissem, will look favourably on the chip count page tonight, which details the stacks of all the remaining players.

Looking back at the day we set the scene for the Super High Roller and saw first-hand the laid-back approach of players with $100,000 to spend. We also saw photo evidence of said money and heard the debate rage on over issues of morality.

Drawing on years of experience we presented an alternative list of things to do on the island and considered how contrary to popular myth, size matters. Particularly when it could mean records are set.

You can also check back through all the action from today on the live coverage page.

With 37 players remaining, and talk of more players (and re-entries) tomorrow, it stands to reason that the second day of play could prove to be a long one. Regardless, it starts at 12 noon. See you then.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter