Texas's Bryan Campanello rides day-long heater to healthy Day 1A lead

3 July 2019 (Las Vegas) – Action began on Wednesday in Event #73 of the 2019 World Series of Poker, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT - World Championship. Hundreds of players were on hand for the noon kickoff, and by the end of the day's action, 1,336 players entered this first of three starting flights.

Five 120-minute levels of play trimmed the Day 1A field from its 1,336 total entries down to 960 survivors, with Southlake Texas's Bryan Campanello topping the day's players with 417,500 in chips.

“It was one of those days where every mistake I made still worked out,” said Campanello about his great opening day. “In this one hand, I turned a gutshot into a bluff on the flop and turn, and he had a worse gutshot and a flush draw. The river bricked and we checked it down, and I won a big pot with eight-high.

“Even when I made a mistake and wasn't happy with my play, I managed to win a hand. I had one big setback – and big compared to, I mean I bagged obscene – like not a big setback. I lost with kings to aces for like 100 big blinds apiece. It was in a spot where I'm like, 'I've won every big hand today! And maybe they're like really mad at me and he doesn't have aces.' But it's the WSOP main, so he still had aces.”

After having “brushed it off,” Campanello resumed enjoying the heater. “I had a couple of hands where I could have, like, only known my exact cards and their exact cards, and been like, 'Look, dude, we can end this hand now. Just give me your money, this is how it's going to end up, you got unlucky. I'm sorry. I win your money.'

“It would come like queen-seven-six, with a flush draw, and I would have [a set] of sixes, and he would have king-queen. The turn would be a queen and I'd put him in and he'd be like, 'I call!' They never pulled up, and I would be like, 'Very nice! Thank you!' I enjoyed that. If it's going to happen in a tournament, it might as well be one with nine million up top.”

Campanello's trip here is his only major poker event of the summer. A prior bracelet winner with over $580,000 in lifetime WSOP earnings, Campanello is more focused these days on obtaining his commercial pilot's license. He's been in pilot school for the past eight months and hopes to become a charter pilot not too far down the road, even if for this day he flew higher than anyone else at the Rio.

Campanello's big day marked the end of Day 1A proceedings at the Rio, but the day had a beginning as well. Following WSOP tradition, each new year's Main Event begins with the ceremonial “Shuffle up and Deal!” announced by the prior year's winner. 2018 Main Event champ John Cynn was on hand to perform the duties, getting things underway to a round of applause as action began.

Though Day 1A will be the smallest of this year's three starting days, it still found many dozens of poker notables scattered throughout the field. Hall of Famers such as Billy Baxter and Erik Seidel were on hand, as were plenty of top pros, including as just a sample, Frank Kassela, Elio Fox, Jeff Lisandro, Andy Black, Donnacha O'Dea, Brian Hastings, former Main Event champs Chris Moneymaker and Qui Nguyen, Justin Bonomo, David Pham, Allen Cunningham, Chris Moorman, Igor Kurganov, Liv Boeree, David Williams, Brandon Shack-Harris and Stephen Chidwick, who ended up seated next to each other at one of the televised feature tables, Brett Richey, David Bach, Fabrice Soulier, Damian Salas, Martin Kabrhel, Ben Yu, and Alex Foxen.

Williams, most famed in poker for finishing second in the 2004 Main Event to Greg Raymer, busted early on after flopping a straight and getting his chips all in against an opponent who flopped top set, then turned a full house.

Other interesting poker tales and personalities were scattered throughout the tables. Among those playing on Day 1A was Poker Hall of Famer Billy Baxter, who's participated at the WSOP virtually since its inception in the 1970s. Baxter, a seven-time bracelet winner, is most known as one the game's all-time stud specialists and admitted he didn't even play much no-limit hold'em until 1994. Since the WSOP moved to the Rio in 2004, Baxter has been a regular in the Main Event. “The year Stuey [Ungar] won it, I think I came in 22nd.” That was third and final Main Event win for Ungar, with whom Baxter shared a close connection.” Baxter cashed twice in Main Events in the 2000s as well, and though he struggled a bit early, he gained ground late and made it safely into Day 2 with a 131,500 stack.

Another prominent pro present was one of poker's best all-around players, Matt Glantz, who chipped up steadily throughout the day. He was also enjoying the relaxed opening-day atmosphere, well aware that the days ahead grow in intensity. Glantz recapped his Day 1, saying, “I bought in in the middle of the second level, after the dinner break. I'm at a very friendly table, really nice guys, and I'm just having a good time.” When he was in a hand he was all business, but he admitted to relaxing at other times, occasionally checking the scene at neighboring tables. Glantz bagged 120,800 to comfortably move on to Saturday's Day 2A/B.

Also present on Day 1A was Kelly Minkin, the last woman standing in the Main Event in both 2015 and 2018. Minkin's Day 1 plan as she described it, was to take it “one hand at a time, play solid, and not get too out of line.” She still remained active enough to ride a bit of a first-day rollercoaster, getting close to 200,000 early in the evening before settling back to 137,100 by night's end. As for making another deep run, Minkin believes it's going to happen. “Absolutely. I feel like I'm going to go deep again. I feel good and my energy is high.” Minkin also reported feeling very comfortable at her Day 1A table, helping her make progress over her first ten hours in the Main Event.

Meanwhile, quite a few prominent players saw their 2019 Main Event dreams come to an end early this year as well. Besides Williams, also among those busting on Day 1A were Boeree, Shane Warne, Kassela, Daniel Alaei, Moorman, Daniel Idema, Brian Altman, Kevin Boudreau, Lexy Gavin, Bryan Piccioli,

Campanello's big 417,000 chip stack is followed atop the Day 1A counts by Timothy Su (297,300), Quentin Roussey (266,400), Takehiro Kato (259,200), and Harry Demetriou (252,000).

Other notables moving on to Day 2A/B with a stack of at least 150,000 include Jesper Hougaard (190,000), Daniel Strelitz (185,300), Qui Nguyen (180,500), Jeff Lisandro (180,100), Anton Morgenstern (174,400), Faraz Jaka (174,100), Alex Foxen (173,200), Perry Friedman (165,300), Martin Kabrhel (164,500), and Jack Sinclair (153,800).

Wednesday's survivors will enjoy a two-day break before returning for Day 2A/B at 11am on Saturday, when today's survivors will be pooled with those from tomorrow's Day 1B flight.

Top Ten 1A Chip Counts:

1st: Brian Campanello – 417,500
2nd: Timothy Su – 297,300
3rd: Quentin Roussey – 266,400
4th: Takehiro Kato – 259,200
5th: Charidimos Demetriou – 252,000
6th: Craig Chait – 249,600
7th: Stephen Graner – 247,100
8th: Mark Zullo – 245,600
9th: David Lolis – 245,100
10th: Thomas Roupe – 238,800

Complete chip counts for Day 1A survivors
Live updates from Day 1A action