Time is growing short if you are planning to go to the 2021 World Series of Poker Championship Event, at least as a player. The third of six Day Ones is in the books, drawing in a smaller crowd than on Friday but still bringing a respectable field. How respectable? The chip leader from Day 1C took command of the overall lead in the Championship Event and other top names found their way through the day to bag a respectable number of chips for Day 2 action.

600 Players Come for Action on Saturday

The field was a bit smaller on Saturday than the previous Friday action, but it was still a strong showing. 600 players were added to the rolls of those who have taken part in the 2021 WSOP Championship Event, making the overall numbers 1968 players who have so far ponied up $10K for the right to play. With three more Day Ones still left on the schedule, a simple doubling of the numbers would indicate that there will be a field of 3936 players for 2021. The final numbers will be much larger, however, as traditionally poker tournaments with multiple Day Ones will see larger turnout on the next to last and final Day One of action.

One player who had an above average day on the felt in the Rio was Josh Arieh. The third-place finisher in the 2004 WSOP Championship Event (behind runner up David Williams and eventual champion Greg Raymer), Arieh has been making the most of his comeback in 2021. Not only has he won two bracelets during the run of this year’s WSOP and is making a strong push for the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year award (more on this momentarily), Arieh was able to work his way through the minefield that is Day One in any tournament.

One particular hand catapulted him forward late in the evening, but it did not come without some drama. After a short stack shoved in front of him, Arieh looked to raise to isolate, but could only call the all-in in front of him. Arieh did so and the big blind also came for a look at the J-10-J flop. After the big blind moved all in, Arieh sheepishly made the call and said, It’s really shocking what I have.”

It certainly was. Arieh turned up pocket Jacks for the flopped four of a kind, but the drama was not over yet. The big blind showed an A♠ K♠ which, along with J♠ 10♠ on the flop, gave him a one-outer at the royal flush, while the original all in picked up his belongings as he was drawing dead. The turn and river had the promise of drama, but they failed to deliver in coming with running eights that kept Arieh in the lead and pushed him to 176,000 in chips; he would end the day’s action with a solid 151,400 in chips for Day 2 action.

Another clash late in the evening would set up the day’s chip leader. Aleksandr Shevlyakov and Susan Choi knocked heads on a J-10-7 flop, which would see Choi eventually get her chips to the center. “You have a set?” Choi asked as she plopped her pocket Kings on the felt. Shevlyakov had better than that, showing a 9-8 for the flopped straight that stood through the running sixes that came on the turn and river. The hand shot Shevlyakov into the chip lead with 400,000, of which he would hold 392,600 of by the end of action for the Day 1C and overall lead in the tournament.

1. Aleksandr Shevlyakov, 392,600
2. Dylan Nguyen, 252,400
3. Suk-Kyu Koh, 237,900
4. Matt Glantz, 236,000
5. Veselin Dimitrov, 235,000
6. Itay Bin Mergy, 233,100
7. Travis Preng, 232,800
8. Daniel Barry, 230,600
9. Andrew Gilmore, 224,600
10. Howard Arotsky, 215,600

Shevlyakov will assume the lead of the 2021 WSOP Championship Event, taking the seat away from Day 1A chip leader Mustapha Kanit:

1. Aleksandr Shevlyakov, 392,600
2. Mustapha Kanit, 363,500 (A)
3. Rittie Chuaprasert, 345,700( A)
4. David Fong, 298,500 (A)
5. Steve Foutty, 287,000 (B)
6. Matthew Traylor, 279,500 (B)
7. Maxime Canevet, 277,500 (B)
8. Fabian Quoss, 273,800 (A)
9. Dylan Nguyen, 252,400
10. Billy Baxter, 248,600 (A)

Day 1D will hit the tables this afternoon in the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino’s Amazon Room at 11AM (Pacific). PokerGO will once again carry the streaming action, but no live television or cable outlet will offer any coverage of the proceedings.

Jake Schwartz, Josh Arieh Take Top Slots in POY

The race for the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year has certainly taken some twists, much to Phil Hellmuth’s dismay. Jake Schwartz has used 14 cashes in the 2021 WSOP – without a bracelet win (he has five final table finishes) – to amass enough points to hold down the top slot on the rankings. Arieh, with his double bracelet year in the books, has only six cashes but enough points in the POY computations to be hot on the heels of Schwartz, who has already been eliminated from the 2021 WSOP Championship Event.

Here are the Top Five who are vying for the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year award:

1. Jake Schwartz, 2711.43 points
2. Josh Arieh, 2696.81
3. Ryan Leng, 2684.04
4. Kevin Gerhart, 2643.28
5. Anthony Zinno, 2627.88

Currently Hellmuth is ranked in the sixth slot of the POY race with his 2598.59 points.

The 2021 WSOP POY is not completed with the end of the WSOP in mid-November. The 2021 World Series of Poker Europe bracelet events will also be counted towards the POY, but it is unlikely that the tournaments during that schedule will offer enough opportunities for players who will only be taking part there to get past any of the Vegas players. As of yet, it is not known how many of the Top Ten in the current POY rankings will journey to Rozvadov, Czech Republic, for the festivities at the King’s Casino.

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