When play resumed at noon yesterday, there were 4,196 players still with the potential of becoming the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion.

That's the precise number of players who survived the first three opening sessions – classified as Days 1A, 1B, and 1C.

Current end of day chip counts range from a high of 246,900 (Mark Kroon, from Madison, WI) to a low of 1,750 (Lear McCoy, from Peebles, OH).  Obviously, one prefers to have more chips – lots more.  The big question is – how much does ranking order at the conclusion of Day One really matter in where players finish?

The answer depends on what you choose to look at.

Last year's champion, Greg Merson, had about an average-sized stack at the conclusion of his first day.  He ended Day 1B with 43,000 in chips (starting stacks were 30,000).  The pattern was similar for all of those nine players who eventually made it to the final table.  Hence, being among the chip leaders didn't really seem to matter much -- at least last year.

Let's go back a few more years and look at the record.  In the modern era, defined as the ten years when Main Event field sizes have been considerably larger than the previous decades, the eventual WSOP champions and their chip positions at the conclusion of Day One were as follows:

2003 – Chris Moneymaker, 60,475 in chips (ranked 11th)
2004 – Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 74,400 in chips (ranked 7th)
2005 – Joe Hachem, 67,350 in chips (not in top 25)
2006 – Jamie Gold, 100,125 in chips (ranked 23rd)
2007 – Jerry Yang, 99,700 in chips (not in top 25)
2008 – Peter Eastgate, 62,325 in chips (not in top 25)
2009 – Joe Cada, 187,225 in chips (ranked 1st)
2010 – Jonathan Duhamel, 53,200 in chips (not in top 25)
2011 -- Pius Heinz, 81,900 in chips (not in top 25)
2012 – Greg Merson, 43,000 in chips (not in top 25)

So, only four of the eventual winners ranked on the Top-25 leaderboard at the end of the first days.  In all these years, only one player actually held the Day One chip lead and then went on to win the event -- Joe Cada back in 2009.

Moreover, if history serves as any indication, the early leader has only about a 50 percent chance of cashing in this tournament.  Since results were tracked, only about half of the early leaders made it into the money (2003 to present).  Here's a look at the last five years of Day One chip leaders (with the leader from each starting day highlighted):

2012
1A : William John -- Did Not Cash
1B:  John Hoang -- Did Not Cash
1C:  Jason Laso -- Did Not Cash

2011
1A: Fred Berger - Cashed in 80th place
1B: Ben Lamb - Final tabled, finishing in 3rd place
1C: Kevin Song - Did Not Cash
1D: Maynard Little - Cashed in 504th place

2010
1A: Corwin Cole – Did Not Cash
1B: James Danielson – Did Not Cash
1C: Mathieu Sauriol – Cashed in 532nd place
1D: Steve Bilirakis – Cashed in 257th place

2009
1A: Redmond Lee - Did Not Cash
1B: Brandon Demes - Did Not Cash
1C: Joe Cada - Won the Event
1D: Troy Weber - Did Not Cash

2008
1A: Mark Garner - Did Not Cash
1B: Ben Sarnoff - Did Not Cash
1C: Henning Granstad - Cashed in 553rd Place
1D: Steve Austin - Cashed in 552nd Place
 
At the moment, the November Nine seems to be a very long way off.  Few players who remain alive in the Main Event have time to dream about the road to poker's magical kingdom, that four months of fame and fortune which leads up to the biggest game of the year.  For now at least, most players are determined to play their best poker and attempt to survive these early stages of what is to become a marathon contest of physical and mental endurance as well as a test of poker skill.
 
That said, every meaningful journey begins with an initial first step.  As the Day One have ended and Day Twos begin, thousands of poker players from all over the world can rightfully claim with great pride that they took a huge leap forward in pursuit of poker's ultimate prize -- a WSOP gold bracelet and immortality as the 2013 World Champion.