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2012 World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event -- Day 1A Recap

1,066 Players Turn Out, Defending Champ Heinz Survives

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Cary Katz ended day 1A fifth in chips with 154,850Day 1A of the 2012 World Series of Poker $10,000 main event is in the books. The Rio was abuzz with anticipation as 1,066 players took their seats for the first of three starting days in the biggest poker tournament of the year. This turnout was an increase of roughly 19% over the first starting day last year, which drew 897 entrants. At the end of play only 657 remained.

The organization of the early days of the main event has changed in 2012. In recent years, day 1A and day 1B survivors combined fields for day 2A, while day 1C and 1D combined to form day 2B. This year the fields in each of three starting days will remain separated for day 2.

As one would expect of the premiere event in poker, many of the games most accomplished players were in attendance. Some thrived, including Cary Katz (154,850), Chance Kornuth (141,775), Leo Wolpert (128,300), Jon Eaton (125,550), Eric Baldwin (123,150), Faraz Jaka (115,775), Ryan Welch (110,425), and former November Niner Filippo Candio (85,000).

Others did not fare so well. Notables who hit the rail on day 1A include all-time bracelet leader Phil Hellmuth, Card Player columnist Matt Glantz, Chris Klodnicki, Kathy Leibert, Allen Bari, Eric Froelich and 2005 WSOP main event champ Joe Hachem.

One main event winner who did survive the day is reigning champion Pius Heinz. Heinz captured more than $8.7 million for winning the 2011 WSOP main event, becoming the first German player ever to win the main event. Under the lights on the ESPN stage, he did not get off to fast start.

Pius Heinz on day 1A“My day 1 was extremely rocky, pretty rollercoaster-like,” said Heinz after play ended. “I didn’t win a pot for the first six hours pretty much and was down to 10k on the dinner break. I thought, ‘I am just going to bust on day 1, it’s going to suck.’”

The 23-year-old made a come back late in the evening, flopping flush over flush in one hand and then eliminating a short stack with pocket queens against ace-queen in another.

“I ended the day with 40,000 and I couldn’t be more happy about it, because I thought I was just going to bust right after dinner.”

Defending champions are often put under a lot of pressure the following year. Gone is their ability to fly under the radar, and often times they find themselves the center of attention, with the media and other players fixing their sites on the champ. As if the stress from outside isn’t bad enough, many main event winners are often anxious to prove that their previous win wasn’t a fluke by making another deep run. Heinz seemed to do his best to shrug off all of this extra burden.

“I know how much variance there is in winning any one tournament. I have won it before which is a huge accomplishment, basically what every poker player dreams about,” said Heinz. “Having won it before, I don’t know why I would stress myself any more. Everything that comes now is just cream on top, basically, so why would I worry about it? I am just trying to play well, have fun, and see how it goes.”

Here is a look at the top 20 chip counts at the end of day 1A:

Rank Player Chips
1 William John 266,700
2 Gerardo Lubas 165,800
3 Daniel Strelitz 164,125
4 Dane Lomas 157,600
5 Cary Katz 154,850
6 Benjamin Pollak 144,200
7 Chance Kornuth 141,775
8 Johnathan Cuevas 141,675
9 Jared Okun 141,350
10 Eric Kurtzman 136,900
11 David Randall 132,750
12 Mark Dietz 132,300
13 Vasile Buboi 132,075
14 Leo Wolpert 128,300
15 Mark Demirdjian 127,125
16 Marko Neumann 125,650
17 Jon Eaton 125,550
18 Barakeh Fadi 123,450
19 Eric Baldwin 123,150
20 Matthew Kirby 120,825