People may say they play poker for the money and the bracelet, but when you break down the day to day of a poker tournament, really only one thing matters: chips. So, each day of this year's Main Event, we’re going to take a look at what’s going on strictly by the counts to see what history has taught us, what the future may hold, and how this year's event stacks up. Here are some of the big takeaways from our three starting days:

The Remarkably Consistent Ryan Riess

Last year, our reigning Main Event champion ended Day 1 with 72,250 chips. This year, he managed to almost exactly match that mark, bagging 70,225. His Day 2 didn’t quite go the same this year though. In 2013, Riess ended with 167,000. This year, he finished Day 2 with roughly half that amount, 84,900.

It is Day 1, Not Day 6

Just because you finish as Day 1 chip leader does not mean you are guaranteed an easy cruise through to the November Nine. In fact, only once in the post-Moneymaker era has a Day 1 chip leader gone on to win the event, and that was in 2009, when Joe Cada finished Day 1C as chip leader, then went on to win the whole tournament. Ben Lamb also managed to turn his Day 1 big stack into a big third place payday, but as BLUFF Magazine notes, nearly half of the Day 1 big stacks end up going home empty-handed before the field even reaches the money.

Your Average Joes

Many players like to play on the final starting day because there are more chips in play to potentially pick up . This year, while Day 1C did have a slightly larger average stack than the other two days, the difference is pretty indiscriminant. If you played Day 1B, that was the day with the smallest average stack of 45,042, but Day 1A is only slight better off with an average stack of 45,802. It is true that 1C has the highest average, but given that it is 46,301, it isn’t exactly anything big to brag about. Last year, it was actually Day 1A who ended with the highest average stack. That group ended with an average of 48,441, which was roughly 3,300 more chips than the other two starting days.

Three-Figure Fun

Out of the 4,504 players who survived Day 1, the one who did so with the smallest stack appears to be Giuseppe Pantaleo, whose chip slip claims a grand total of 575 chips. That is enough for him to ante, post the big blind and have one 25 chip left for a rainy day.


Is the US Domination Slowing Down?

This summer, the United States have been absolutely crushing, winning 52 of the first 64 bracelet events. When it comes to Day 1 performance in the Main Event though, for once, they are underperforming. Players from the US comprise 74.4% of the Main Event field, but with 21 players in the top ten chip counts from the end of each of the three starting flight, they are actually slightly underrepresented.

The country that is outperforming is Russia. Russia only has 89 players in this year’s field, but managed to have three players end up in the trio of top ten chip counts. The United States and Russia are the only countries with multiple players near the top, while six other countries are represented in this chunk of 30 chip counts.

200K to Play

Each year, the end of Day 1 chip leaders are usually around the benchmark of 200,000 chips. Typically, only two or three players get into that territory across the starting days. This year, we have the lowest overall chip leader since we changed the starting chip stack to 30,000 chips in 2008. With 206,175 chips, Eric Tracy earns the honor of overall Day 1 chip leader this year, but also earns the distinction previously held by Fred Berger (2011) of being the smallest-stacked chip leader of the past seven years.


200 million to Win

For the first time since 2011, the total number of chips in play in the Main Event exceeds 200 million. The exact chip count? That would be 200,490,000, making an average stack for the November Nine around 22.3 million chips.


Keep Nguyen-ing

Wondering what the most successful surname in the Main Event might be? It isn’t Brunson or Smith or Jones. It is Nguyen, as in 1998 Main Event Champ Scotty Nguyen, who is one of 30 players with that last name to advance to Day 2, making it easily the most common last name on the chip counts list.