The big show at the Rio every summer may be the $10,000 Main Event, but if you ask the biggest pros in the game what tournament they look forward to with an anticipation usually reserved for kids on Christmas morning, they will tell you it is the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
The tournament, which features an eight-game rotation for the third year, has only been around since 2006, but it took no time at all for the event to become one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. The Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and, of course, the gold bracelet, are seriously coveted by the best in the game.
So far this year, there are 108 contenders in this tournament, but that number will inevitably grow a little larger before registration closes Monday afternoon at the end of the sixth level of play. The event may not reach the 128 player-field the tournament drew last year, but it is nonetheless a solid turnout with nary a soft spot to be found and Hall of Famers like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Sexton, and Barry Greenstein peppered throughout the field alongside past winners of this event like reigning champ Brian Rast, Michael Mizrachi, Freddy Deeb, and David Bach.
The event got underway Sunday afternoon for five 100-minute levels of action. Despite nearly seven hours of poker play, the field lost just a single player, David Singer, who busted at the hands of Bruno Fitoussi during a Pot-Limit Omaha hand where Singer got it all-in on the turn holding top set of aces to Fitoussi's nut straight.
No one else joined Singer on the rail Sunday night, but with five more levels set to get underway at 2pm on Monday, the number of also-rans in the event will grow. Having chips now is no guarantee you will have a seat at the final table either. This five day event is a grind and, with so much poker to play and such a tough field, there is no such thing as a sure thing.
Matt Glantz ended the day at the top of the counts with 310,700, roughly twice as much as the 150,000-chip starting stack. Glantz is no stranger to success in this event either, having final tabled this tournament in 2008 and 2011. Whether or not Glantz can keep building that big stack remains to be seen. Be sure to follow the up to the minute action in this event, which gets going at 2pm PT Monday afternoon.
Here are the top ten chip counts after one day of action in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship:
1. Matt Glantz - 310,700
2. Ali Eslami - 286,900
3. Keith Gipson - 281,500
4. Lyle Berman - 280,300
5. Andy Bloch - 265,600
6. Alexander Kravchenko - 260,700
7. David ODB Baker - 257,500
8. Jeff Lisandro - 254,600
9. Jon Spinks - 254,000
10. Joe Cassidy - 252,400
Photo by Neil Stoddart for PokerNews/WSOP