Yesterday, I took a look at the past few years’ Main Events to try to figure out just how big a deal it is to get a big stack on the first day of the tournament. What I found is that the players who had stacks of over 150,000 chips (5 times the starting stack) had finished in the top 27 about three times more often than you would have expected just based on their chip stacks.
Since both Day 2 flights of the current Main Event are now in the books, I decided to take a look at this year’s Day 1 chip leaders and see how they’re doing.
There were only 12 such players this year – William Kakon from Flight A; Hamid Feiz, Adil Khan and Srikanth Koneru from Flight B; and John Gorsuch, Zarik Megerdichian, David Peyser, James Juvancic, Michael Shanahan, Salvatore Dicarlo, Phong Than Nguyen and Timo Pfutzenreuter from Flight C.
There are no big names in that group, with Kakon the only bracelet winner: he took down Event #11 – $1500 Limit Hold’em this year, and also final tabled Event #19 – $3000 Limit Hold’em. The other eleven players have four WSOP final tables between them, and several of the players don’t have any tracked tournament results at all.
So, how did they fare on Day 2?
Well, there’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that eleven of our twelve made it through, with Nguyen being the sole bust-out. Furthermore, seven of those eleven managed to increase their stacks further.
They were up on average, too, having managed a modest increase in their collective chip total from 1,837,000 after Day 1 to 1,921,600 at the end of Day 2.
The bad news is that none of them is in the overall top 10 anymore. Only Salvatore Dicarlo managed to double up and bag over 300,000. That was good enough to put him in 8th for the Day 2C flight, but the combined Day 2AB flight produced more big stacks, so he is only 23rd in the overall chip counts.
Thus, the Day 1 leaders had overall a fairly decent but unspectacular Day 2, and you couldn’t say any of them is a favorite to go deep at this point; still, with 11 of the 12 still in the running and the bubble likely to burst today, we can expect most of them to make the money and we’ll see where they go from there.
If they’re not on top, who is?
There are now seven players with stacks above 400,000 chips: Amar Anand, Calvin Lee, Luther Tran, Charles Chattha and Alan Mastic from Day 2AB; and David Jackson and Zach Jiganti from Day 2C.
They’re perhaps an even more random group than the Day 1 leaders, with David Jackson having the sole WSOP final table appearance among them, although Chattha has had a consistent cashing record in smaller European events, with over $1 million in prizes to his name.
Interestingly, none of these players had a particularly good first day. In fact, none of them even cracked 100,000 chips, nor made the top 100 in their flight. The best of the lot was Charles Chattha, who bagged an even 80,000 after Day 1B, but overall their average stack going into the second day was only about 52,000, not even double the starting stack. I guess there’s a reason Day 2 is often referred to as “Moving Day.”
Day 3 predictions
Tournament poker being what it is, you never know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Kakon, Gorsuch, Dicarlo, Jackson and Chattha are all likely to have a good Day 3. They’ve all got reasonably good track records, so they’ve got the experience necessary to make use of their stacks to chip up while most of the field is struggling to make the money.
Whatever happens, I’ll keep an eye on all 19 players mentioned in this article; even just going by their collective chip total, it’s better than even money that one of them will make the final 27. It’ll be fun to see if that comes to pass and, if so, who it is.
Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.