As if being at the Atlantis Resort Casino on Paradise Island in the Bahamas wasn’t enough for the denizens of poker, Friday and Saturday saw the start of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. After two days of competition (and, for the first time ever, one reentry allowed per player), 842 entries have been received for the first major poker tournament of the year.

Day 1A – Fewer Entries, But Overall Chip Leader Emerges

As typical for multi-day poker tournaments, Day 1A was the smaller of the two starting flights, but it would also provide the overall chip leader for the tournament. It was much bigger than the 178 players who stepped up in 2018, leaving the players in the tournament excited about the potential overall field for the tournament. The players also showed they weren’t afraid to get the chips to the center of the table, perhaps because of the potential for reentry.

One big hand involved Joey Weissman and Max Silver, who clashed right before the end of the night. Holding pocket Queens, Weissman was able to get his chips to the center pre-flop and Silver, with A-K, went to the races. Once the board ran out ten-high, Silver was sent to the rail as Weissman scooped up the 270K chip pot to surge to the top of the leaderboard.

Weissman would have had the Day 1A lead save for Russia’s Alexander Kharkov. Battling against Justin Bonomo, Kharkov called a three-bet from Bonomo to see an 8♠ 7 2♠ flop. Kharkov check-called a 5K bet from Bonomo and, on a 10♠ turn, Kharkov checked again. After Bonomo fired another bullet, Kharkov came alive with a check raise to 40K in chips. This didn’t faze Bonomo, however, who dropped his remaining chips in the center and Kharkov immediately called.

Bonomo’s pocket Aces (with the spade) were nice, but Kharkov’s K♠ Q♠ had turned the flush to take over the lead in the hand. Left looking for another spade to give him the nut flush and beat Kharkov, Bonomo instead saw an innocent 6 hit the river, ending his run in the Bahamas (for that moment) and rocketing Kharkov to the Day 1A (and, as it would turn out, the overall) lead over the 135 remaining players.

1. Alexander Kharkov, 350,000
2. Joey Weissman, 267,000
3. Joao Simao, 251,200
4. Brian Altman, 236,100
5. Markus Kuhnen, 196,000

Day 1B – Bigger Field but More Conservative Play

The second starting day of the 2019 PCA Main Event would see more entries show up but, because it was the last chance, the play was a bit more conservative. 486 entries flooded the Atlantis tournament floor to bring the total entry numbers to 842, vastly outpacing the 582 that came in for the tournament in 2018. With the $10,000 buy in, the prize pool will be the largest at the PCA Main Event since 2014.

There were a couple of players who emerged with nice days. David ‘Chino’ Rheem climbed to the top of the leaderboard throughout Saturday’s action, but he would fall back late in the day to “only” claim a Top Five slot for Day 1B. 2018 Women’s Player of the Year Kristen Bicknell, who has quietly had an outstanding PCA trip with an 11th place finish in the PokerStars Players’ Championship, also battled through the day before closing the day with more than double her starting stack at 67,500 in chips.

Defending champion Maria Lampropulos was able to make it through the Saturday carnage also with 59,600 in chips. But it was Rainer Kempe who reigned supreme through the day, ending up with 214,000 in chips to take the Day 1B chip lead honors:

1. Rainer Kempe, 214,200
2. Niall Farrell, 202,000
3. Charles Furey, 200,900
4. David ‘Chino’ Rheem, 197,900
5. Matthew Moss, 180,700

And Here’s Your (Unofficial) Leaderboard!

After the smoke cleared, here’s how the highly unofficial leaderboard stacks up:

1. Alexander Kharkov, 350,000
2. Joey Weissman, 267,000
3. Joao Simao, 251,200
4. Brian Altman, 236,100
5. Rainer Kempe, 214,200
6. Niall Farrell, 202,000
7. Charles Furey, 200,900
8. David ‘Chino’ Rheem, 197,900
9. Markus Kuhnen, 196,000
10. Pavel Plesuv, 191,200

Those players who won’t be a part of the PCA Main Event anymore include such names as Dario Sammartino, Sergio Aido, Aymon Hata, Brian Rast, Chris Moorman, Shawn Buchanan, Martin Jacobson, Maria Konnikova and Cliff Josephy. These players and many others will have to partake of some of the other side events at the PCA or, lacking that, the beautiful beaches of the Bahamas or the water park on the Atlantis grounds.

The PCA Main Event continues on through Sunday with 330 runners still in the mix for the title. As technically late registration/reentry is still open until the start of action on Day 2, the official field numbers aren’t set. Once those 330 players find out what they’re playing for, the intensity will ramp up in the Bahamas.

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