Las Vegas is considered the center of the poker universe, so it is no wonder this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit Main Event is drawing a diverse crowd of talented players and amateurs.

The Main Event fields at the Caesars Palace Poker Room in Vegas are always some of the most star-studded of the year, and, so far, this year certainly isn’t disappointing on that front.  The opening day of action in the $1,675 buy-in event drew an array of pros, including two WSOP Main Event Champions, Carlos Mortensen and Scotty Nguyen, 2011 WSOP National Champion Sam Barnhnart, November Niners Joseph Cheong and Jake Balsiger, bracelet winners Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren, Eric Baldwin, Brent Hanks, David Williams, and reigning Caesars Palace Las Vegas Circuit Main Event Champ Kevin Calenzo.

At the end of the day, it was a bracelet winner who rose to the top of the counts early and stayed there for virtually the duration of Day 1A play.  Ryan Welch, who won the $3,000 Triple Chance bracelet at the 2010 WSOP, launched himself to the top of the counts during the first two hours of play and ended the day in the exact same spot, running his 20,000-chip starting stack up to 424,400.  Over the course of the day, Welch busted a number of players, steadily building a mountain of chips in the process.

That number put Welch head and shoulders above his fellow competitors today.  No one else crossed the 400,000-chip mark and few of the 58 survivors from the starting field of 311 even managed to bag up over 200,000.  Other big stacks at the end of play included Andrew Watson (267,000), Ping Liu (240,000), and David Tuthill (274,100).

Other notables who will be joining Welch for Day 2 play on Sunday include Lindgren (68,600) and Bracelet winner Keven Stammen (125,600), four-time ring winner Ari Engel (156,000), Choctaw Main Event winner Jeff Fielder (147,000), David Sands (140,000), and Todd Terry (52,100).

While several big names made it through to Day 2, a lot of big names will be back in action on Saturday for their second shot in this event on Day 1B.  Notable Day 1A bustouts include Cheong, Balsiger, Mortensen, Baldwin, Hanks, Williams, Calenzo, Mohsin Charania, Erika Moutinho, Tristan Wade, Bryn Kenney, Kurt Jewell, Dwyte Pilgrim, and Will Failla.

Saturday, the action is underway once again at 12pm PT when the Day 1B field files in.  Last year Day 1A drew 308 players, so it still seems more than possible that this year will top last year’s crop of 662 entries.

Don't forget that the final table of this event will be streamed nearly live with hole cards on Monday on ESPN3.  Circuit Host Bernard Lee will be on hand to call all of the action on a thirty-minute delay.  The stream is scheduled to begin at 1pm PT on Monday, or whenever the nine-handed final table is set.

Here are the top ten chip counts from the end of Day 1A play:

1. Ryan Welch - 424,900
2. David Tuthill - 274,100
3. Andrew Watson - 267,000
4. Ping Liu - 241,100
5. Thomas Elligson - 239,000
6. Kyle Arora - 233,000
7. Blake Barousse - 215,700
8. Tom Dobrilovic - 194,500
9 Chad Matwiy - 163,200
10. Tim Hebert - 160,100