It may be a new year and a new World Series of Poker Main Event, but the opening day of action in the biggest poker tournament of the year had many thinking about some of the great moments from 2012. The opening ceremonies for the $10,000 buy-in Main Event set a nostalgic tone as reigning World Champion Greg Merson unveiled his winner’s banner and told the crowd to “Shuffle Up and Deal!” That was just the beginning of a busy day for Merson too. He steadily chipped up over the course of Day 1A and bagged up 81,650 chips from the starting stack of 30,000.Merson wasn’t the only familiar face from last year in the field either. Fellow Octo-niners Jake Balsiger and Russell Thomas were in action, as was last year’s 11th place finisher Elisabeth Hille. While he didn’t make a run to Day 7 last year, comedian Kevin Pollak was another player who made an impression in 2012, making it all the way to Day 5 before busting. The actor was back at it this year and managed to survive the day with 16,725. The same can’t be said for funnyman Jason Alexander, who was one of the Day 1A casualties.Some of the other players who will have to wait until 2014 to live out their Main Event dreams are Soi Nguyen, Abe Mosseri, TJ Cloutier, Chino Rheem, Sopranos actor Robert Iler, Sam Barnhart, and 2011 Main Event Champ Pius Heinz.The first of three starting flights drew 943 players and got this year’s Main Event off to a promising start. Of those, 584 survived the day and will be back in action for Day 2A on Tuesday. Leading the pack is Evan Panesis, who rallied up the counts late in the day to end as Day 1A chip leaders. Other big stacks that will be back in action on Day 2A are bracelet winner Larry Wright (112,900), past November Niner Steven Begleiter (110,725), and Liya Gerasimova (102,950).
The chips were flying over the course of Day 1A and Panesis wasn't the only player to benefit from it. Two hands got a lot of attention from the poker community today. The first brought on the first bustout of the day midway through Level 1 and saw one player check-raise all three streets holding an overpair of queens to the board only to get it all-in against his opponent's pocket aces on the river.
The second was a hand that doesn't happen much in the Main Event, or any poker tournament for that matter: a five-way all in. After a series of aggressive preflop action, five players got it all-in preflop holding A-10, A-K, pocket jacks, pocket queens and, yes, 3-4 suited. There was no miracle flop for the suited connectors though. In fact, the queens held to eliminate three of the five players and give Mac Sohrabi a massive pot.Day 1B of the action gets underway at 12pm on Tuesday. We will once again have live updates of all the action on WSOP.com. Here is a look at the official top ten chip counts from the end of Day 1A:1. Evan Panesis - 190,9752. Nicholas Crisp - 184,0753. Abdulaziz Almashal - 180,5754. Sergio Castelluccio - 175,8255. Michael Wehner - 170,3256. Jason Manger - 158,1507. Yucel Eminoglu - 147,4258. Gal Erlichman - 146,8759. Jonathan Lane - 137,07510. Scott Weslet - 137,075Full chip counts are available on WSOP.com.