GDAM Day 1: Duhamel and Haxton - the cream that rise to the top

Let's not pretend we don't know: if you're a poker player, there's a pretty good reason to be in Las Vegas at the moment. But if you went to Nevada today and wanted to find find the reigning WSOP champion, or the 2010 champion, or the guy that goes by the name "ElkY", for example, you would be wide of the mark by about 7,300 miles.

That's because for those guys, and another 69 of of the world's best poker players, Las Vegas was manifestly not the best place to be this week. Those guys are in Macau, at PokerStars Live at the City of Dreams to be precise, for one of the biggest and best poker tournaments in the world, Vegas be hanged.

Today was day one of the GuangDong Ltd Asia Millions presented by PokerStars, a tournament costing one million Hong Kong dollars ($130,000 approx) to enter and generating a prize pool of approximately $15.4m. That is the second largest prize pool ever created for a tournament outside of the United States and offers close to $4.5m to its winner.

You can keep your fields of thousands and thousands. You only need to beat 70 other players to win it here.

The player in the box seat after seven one-hour levels of play today is someone very accustomed to doing his counting in millions. Jonathan Duhamel is the aforementioned 2010 WSOP champion, but today has amassed 6,080,000 chips, a six-fold return on his one million starting stack.

Duhamel, of Team PokerStars Pro, enjoyed the table draw of his dreams today when he lined up on one of the only tables not packed with superstars. He bought in three times -- using both of his optional rebuys despite not actually busting the tournament -- and it's a decision that seems to have been a wise one.

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Jonathan Duhamel: In it three times, leading

Isaac Haxton is not far behind, another of the players here wearing the PokerStars Red Spade on his sleeve. Haxton bagged up 5,649,000 chips tonight and after winning more than a million euros in that enormous cash game in Monaco, plus a second place last night in the warm up to this event, Haxton is clearly a player in fine form.

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Isaac Haxton: Extending a superb run

Those two enjoyed the kind of day that plenty of the big sharks in the game dreamed of when they signed up for this one. With the promise of a lot of wealthy local businessmen involved, the field included the likes of Tobias Reinkemeier, Sorel Mizzi, Eric Seidel, Max Altergott, Igor Kurganov, Dan Smith, Philipp Gruissem, Fabian Quoss, John Juanda, Shaun Deeb and JC Alvarado. That's not even including the aforementioned ElkY and reigning world champion, Greg Merson.

But Seidel busted and Deeb busted. And a load more will bust tomorrow, when we try to slim the field from the 51 remaining to the final eight who will be paid.

Here are the top ten stacks over night:

Jonathan Duhamel Canada 6,080,000
Isaac Haxton Malta 5,658,000
Sorel Mizzi Canada 5,649,000
Fenglei Qjan China 5,075,000
Di Dang USA 4,104,000
Joseph Cheong USA 4,052,000
Anson Tsang China 3,892,000
JC Alvarado Mexico 3,787,000
Dan Smith Canada 3,618,000
Tom McDonald UK 3,576,000

It really only matters at the moment to focus on the numbers, and you can check over to the Day 2 seat draw page to see their stacks and how they will line up tomorrow, and check below to see what they're playing for.

GDAM Main Event
Players:
71 Rebuys: 54
Prize pool: $119,375,000 (HKD)

1 - $34,600,000 HKD ($4,464,516 USD)
2 - $24,500,000 ($3,161,290)
3 - $16,100,000 ($2,077,419)
4 - $12,525,000 ($1,616,129)
5 - $10,200,000 ($1,316,129)
6 - $8,300,000 ($1,070,968)
7 - $7,150,000 ($922,581)
8 - $6,000,000 ($774,194)

Join us again tomorrow and PokerStars Live as we play to a final table.

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Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau