The long-awaited 2023 PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship in The Bahamas kicked off in specular fashion today and attracted 1,005 runners, 678 of whom found bags after eight one-hour levels of play. Leading the way are Britain’s Chris Moorman and America’s Tony Tran who tied for the chip lead with 356,000, followed by fellow big stacks Josh Arieh (312,500), Bastian Hess (295,000) and Martin Zamani (287,000).
Moorman is known as one of the biggest online crushers of all time but has $6.5 million in Hendon Mob-reported earnings to prove he’s no stranger to success in the live realm. The Brit will look to add seven figures to his lifetime earnings if he can use his big stack to make a deep run in the PSPC.
There was no shortage of big names that made it to the end of Day 1, including European Poker Tour (EPT) champions like Roberto Romanello and Martin Jacobson, as well as Jacobson’s fellow World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event champs Chris Moneymaker, Ryan Riess, Espen Jorstad, Greg Raymer and Scott Blumstein and PokerStars Pros Sam Grafton, Andre Akkari, Arlie Shaban, Benjamin Spragg, Lali Tournier and Alejandro Lococo, who won a big pot in one of the final hands of the night to bag a stack of 204,000.
Defending champion Ramon Colillas, who took down the 2019 PSPC for $5.1 million after spinning up a Platinum Pass freeroll, is still alive after a day battling at a table that included chess pro Alexandra Botez. The popular streamer, who has played poker on Hustler Casino Live and other streams, held her own among the poker pros on the feature table and ended the night with 39,000.
Plenty of Platinum Pass winners are looking to follow in Colillas’ footsteps by taking down the Players Championship. Among the Platinum Pass winners who bagged are Chad McVean, Alexander Herrmann, Dinesh Alt, Xavier Robert Ros and Antonio Ramon Munoz.
2023 PSPC Day 1 Top 10 Chip Counts
|RANK||PLAYER||COUNTRY||CHIP COUNTS||BIG BLINDS|
|1||Chris Moorman||United Kingdom||356,000||237|
|3||Josh Arieh||United States||312,500||208|
|6||Fernando Pons Garcia||Spain||282,500||188|
Read about some early highlights in Day 1 of the PSPC
Day 1 Action
The energy inside the Baha Mar Resort convention center was palpable as Bruce Buffer kicked things off with his unmistakable “Shuffle up and deal!” announcement.
It didn’t take long for chips to exchange hands and seats to open up as plenty of notable hands made up the first few hours of play.
Alexandru Papazian was one of the first players out after the Romanian grinder suffered a massive cooler in the first few minutes of play. Papazian held pocket jacks and wound up with jacks full on the river, only to find himself against the kings full of Platinum Pass winner Hugo Rodilla, who held pocket kings to deliver a sneaky and sickening beat to Papazian. PokerNews wrote about that hand and others, which you can read about here.
Moneymaker delivered a comparably brutal beat to Sergio Coutinho when the 2003 Main Event champ held the nut flush against Coutinho’s second nut flush.
Other players who made early exits include PokerStars Ambassador Fintan Hand, Robbi Jade Lew, Kevin Rabichow, Nick Petrangelo and 2019 PCA champ Chino Rheem.
The always-mouthy Shaun Deeb was eliminated shortly before dinner break just a few hands after telling those at the table that they play “so bad” as Platinum Pass winner Lucas Pignay rivered a gutshot straight to have the last laugh.
PokerStars’ Lex Veldhuis made it to the final level of the day before he three-bet jammed with ace-jack only for Lauro Artmann to wake up behind him with Big Slick. Veldhuis was left with crumbs and lost it on the next hand when fellow PokerStars team member Shaban scored a double knockout with pocket queens against the jacks of Ante Jukic and king-ten of Veldhuis.
Day 2 will kick off at noon local time with Level 9, blinds of 1,000/1,500/1,500. There’s still time to buy into the event with a 60,000-chip starting stack as late registration will remain open until the start of Level 11.
Stay tuned as the PokerNews live reporting team is on-site here in Nassau and ready to bring all the updates ahead of the next Players Champion being crowned.