Today's WSOP National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof attracted 126 entrants, with a few more late comers expected to appear before Thursday's re-start. Actual prize pool information will be posted as soon as we have a closing number, expected to occur sometime after noon on Thursday.
At present, 62 players survived Day One. This means slightly more than half the field has been eliminated. The National Championship hopefuls will return on Thursday for Day Two action. Cards go in the air at noon.
As expected, the leader board is a "Who's Who" from both the WSOP gold bracelet events and WSOP Circuit stops throughout North America. The top players from both routes into the 2013 National Championship are the featured attraction and there's not a soft spot in the entire field when it comes to recent poker accomplishments.
Nonetheless, the name at the top of the leader board might be a surprise to some, but not to those familiar with the young player with the cool-sounding name. Valentin Vornicu, from San Diego will enter Day Two as chip leader. In fact, he enjoys a sizable advantage at the moment. The winner of the Casino Champion title at Harrah's Rincon (held in December 2012) holds a massive chip advantage. His closest threat is some 70,000 chips behind. But, as everyone knows, there's still a lot of poker still to be played.
Vornicu is of Romanian origin – the same nation that produced some very other talented poker prodigies, including Daniel Negreanu and Alexandru Masek. He's a serious part-time poker player, but his first love is math. In fact, Vornicu is a math tutor and enthusiast who has a highly-regarded math website. He appears to possess some uncanny math skills mixed with selective aggression that kept most of his opponents on their heels for much of Day One.
Here's a glance at the top ten rankings:
1 Valentin Vornicu SAN DIEGO, CA 203,000
2 Brock Parker SILVER SPRING, MD 133,900
3 Chris Parsons MENTOR, OH 133,000
4 Jarod Ludemann WELLS, MN 128,100
5 Andrew Robinson OLATHE, KS 117,900
6 Jeffrey Gross ANN ARBOR, MI 117,000
7 Ari Engel LAS VEGAS, NV 113,800
8 Blake Barousse LAFAYETTE, LA 111,000
9 Jeremy Ausmus LAS VEGAS, NV 109,200
10 Joe Tehan LAS VEGAS, NV 107,600
Two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Brock Parker sits comfortably in second place. He posted seven cashes at last year's WSOP and qualified to a seat via the top-100 in points from the Las Vegas series.
Chris Parsons, who won a gold ring a few months ago and made three final tables at The Lodge Circuit stop in Colorado, where he took Casino Champion honors, rests in third place at the moment.
It's particularly notable that six of the top ten ranked players at the moment are WSOP Circuit qualifiers rather than WSOP-route buy-ins. Keep in mind there are two groups of entrants here. Players from the Circuit won automatic entries into this championship, while the WSOP gold bracelet qualifiers had to post a $10,000 entry fee. Hence, the Circuit grinders are more than holding their own against their invaders, who mostly earned their stripes in Las Vegas.
Other notables who made the cut after Day One included – Ari Engel, Rex Clinkscales, Max Steinberg, Roland Israelashvilii, Jesse Silva, Nancy Birnbaum, Travell Thomas, David Baker, and Doug “Rico” Carli. However, we should correctly note that all of these final 62 are “notable” players of significant accomplishment.
Others were not so fortunate. Opening day casualties included two-time gold bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst, two-time gold bracelet winner Eric Froehlich, seven-time gold ring winner (ranking first all-time) Chris Reslock, six-time gold ring winner Alexandru Masek, and five-time gold ring winner Kyle Cartwright,
A season that began nearly ten months ago has come down to one last tournament over the next two days. The 2012-2013 WSOP Circuit will continue with Day Two on Thurday and Day Three, including the finale, on Friday. The final table will be filmed for broadcast on ESPN.