WSOP 2017: First in flight, Boatman boasts big stack early

The Main Event naturally gets top billing on the World Series of Poker marquee today. Even so, with the first of three Day 1 flights featuring a typically smaller turnout relative to what we'll see the next two days, and with other preliminary events still playing out all around the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, it's as though the Main Event machine is still taxiing down the runway, yet to take off in earnest.

Players are divided between the dark Brasilia and bright Amazon, the former necessarily lighted more cinematically for the televised coverage.

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An opening scene in the Brasilia

Meanwhile the contrasting settings have been paralleled by the hot starts of some and swift falls of others.

By the end of the first two-hour level there appeared to be more than 700 players registered (a best guess-timate). At least one -- Samuel Yun -- was already on the rail after losing his stack with two pair versus David Vedral's straight.

By contrast Barny Boatman was the fastest out of the gate, tripling the 50,000-chip starting stack within the first two hours.

A big hand for the original Hendon Mobster came in day's first level. As he explained to us, he'd tangled a few times with Iraj Parvizi who'd played numerous hands against him already. Then Boatman decided to "mix things up," as he said, and three-bet from the blinds with seven-five in a multi-way pot Parvizi had opened.

Everyone checked the 6-4-2 flop, then an eight on the turn encouraged Boatman to bet his straight. Parvizi raised big, forcing out a third player, Boatman called, then Boatman checked following a queen on the river.

Parvizi bet, Boatman check-raised all in, and Parvizi called with his entire stack. "Snapped it," said Boatman with a twinkle in his eye, adding how Parvizi had pocket eights to bust early with a set.

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Barny storming

How has Boatman's summer gone so far? He pointed at his big stack.

"Been building big stacks in every event," he said, then explained how such early chip accumulation hasn't been translating into deep finishes. "Eight cashes, but all small, and three bubbles," he shrugged before agreeing how the Main Event would be a perfect place to counter that trend.

Boatman did manage a 12th-place showing in the $1,500 PLO Hi-Lo event -- the deepest in 2017 for the two-time bracelet winner.

Other big stacks before dinner include Oleksii Khoroshenin, Sam Grafton, and Sam Chartier. Mark Radoja, Pratyush Buddiga, and Bryan Piccioli all added considerably to their chips in the early going as well.

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Khoroshenin collecting

Elsewhere, the lone red spade sporter in action today, Jennifer Shahade, had good start, too, highlighted by a hand in which she made quads, though she'd slipped below the starting stack as the day crossed its midpoint.

In other Day 1A news, early in the afternoon 2013 Main Event Ryan Riess champion was walking through the halls of the Rio, and he encountered another member of poker's most exclusive club.

"Gonna try to repeat?" Riess grinned while extending a hand to last year's winner, Qui Nguyen. The pair laughed and embraced, and a little later in the day Nguyen made his way into the Amazon, stopping to chat with Joe Stapleton as well on his way to taking a seat.

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A Nguyen-ing grin from the returning champ

Late registration for Day 1A remains open until the end of the dinner break. We'll keep an eye on what the current field size for today turns out to be, comparing it as we do to the Day 1A fields from past Main Events:

YearDay 1A EntrantsTotal Entrants

We'll watch as well to see whether Boatman, Khoroshenin, and the other big stacks continue ascending during their Day 1 flights.

WSOP photos by