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We have been waiting for this day for over a year and now it’s finally here! The PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) has arrived and has done so in style by setting a new record for a $25K event with a massive 1,014 entries on Day 1! With late registrations open till Day 2, this grand rake free event that is being hosted at the exotic Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas, is sure to set a tall record that will be hard to beat.
With the prize pool already nudging past the $25 Million mark, it is safe to say that not only has the PSPC blown past all expectations but is without a doubt the biggest $25,000 poker tournament in history!
Out of the 1,014 players that entered the fray on Day 1, only 745 runners made it past the opening day. Heading the survivors was British pro Talal Shakerchi with a stack of 425,300, with Dan O’Brien (301,200) and Alexis Gavin (267,000) rounding off the top three stacks.
While the field has already overshot the 1000-mark, the $25,000 buy-in event will certainly see more players entering the field and Day 2 promises to be another high-octane show. All the players making it to the final table will bank at least $1 Million, while the winner stands to walk away with at least $5 Million, the largest prize money to be given away in a PokerStars event.
Team India had a strong showing at this marquee event with a battalion of 10 Indian challengers making their way to the Bahamas starting with the PSPC Platinum Pass winners Sumit Sapra, Nikhil Segel, Kavin Shah, Raman Gujral, Sharad Rao, Vivek Singh, Saurabh Sindhwani and Aneesh Nair, along with Team PokerStars pro Aditya Agarwal and World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Nipun Java. Young Gun Rao topped the Indian contingent and progressed to Day 2 with a stack of 125,600. He was joined by Segel (90,200), Agarwal (80,600), Gujral (69,600) and Sindhwani (65,500).
However, it didn’t go so well for Nipun Java, Sumit Sapra, Kavin Shah, Vivek Singh and Aneesh Nair. Java who has recently been conferred the 2018 Global Poker Index (GPI) Player of the Year India title with his 24 cashes through the year keeping him at the top spot, was eliminated towards the latter part of the play on Day 1.
Before we head over to recapping Day 1 of the PSPC, let’s take a look back at where it all started. In December 2017, The Stars Group that operates the world’s largest online poker site PokerStars, announced a brand new exclusive live poker tournament. Touted to be the richest and the biggest tournament in the history of poker – the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is a rake-free $25,000 buy-in event with a staggering $9,000,000 contributed to the prize pool (through 320 Platinum Passes), including $1,000,000 added to first place by PokerStars. The event is being played out a week before the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in Bahamas.
While the decision to conduct a $25,000 buy-in rake free event was a grand idea in itself, PokerStars was successfully able to integrate people from all walks of life into this event via the prestigious PSPC Platinum Passes. Over the course of 2018, PokerStars gave away 320 Platinum Passes each worth roughly $30,000. Each pass includes the PSPC buy-in ($25,000) along with six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resort Nassau in The Bahamas & $2,000 for travel expenses and room folio.
PokerStars has gone all out to promote this event, and along these lines they have made sure that the millions of aspiring players all across the globe, who were unable to win a Platinum Pass, could keep a tab on the action. The PSPC is being live streamed by PokerStars on all popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
The PSPC is being live-streamed on Twitch TV and looking at the 19.3 Million views that the live-stream registered on the opening day, it is clear that the event is attracting a lot of traction.
PSPC seems to be keeping the railbirds on their edges over the past day. Live-streaming on YouTube hit over 89,000 views. For catching the event action on YouTube, poker fans can watch it here.
PokerStars is also constantly sharing thrilling details of the PSPC on their Facebook page i.e. PokerStars LIVE.
Representing India’s rising poker talent was Young Gun Sharad Rao who made his way to this one-of-a-kind event by winning the coveted Platinum Pass through the PokerStars Diwali Rush freeroll. Rao was off to a rollicking start when he chipped up through Moldovan chemistry student and fellow Platinum Pass winner Dragos Trofimov during level 2. With the board open and a few thousand in the pot, Rao bet 2,600 from the small blind. Trofimov called and the completed the board. Rao bet 13,000 and Trofimov tanked for a while and then decided to call. Rao revealed for two pairs of kings and treys. Trofimov glanced at his cards and then mucked his hand, as Rao’s stack grew to 90,000.
In the very next level Rao found himself face to face with the Danish high stakes expert Gus Hansen. Hansen raised to 900 when action folded to his button and Rao called. Both players checked the flop and turn. Rao yet again bet for 3,000, forcing to Hansen to consider his next move. Hansen eventually decided to fold, and Rao remained unshakeable.
Rao ended the day on high note with 125,600 in the bag. He announced his stack on social media saying, “Finding a bag is always sweet, Sweeter it it’s the biggest event you’ve ever played”.
Nikhil Segel, another PSPC pass winner who won Team PokerStars pro Jamie Staples‘ #MyUltimateSweat challenge, has proved that all his hard work was worth it.
— Nikhil Segel (@NikhilSegel) January 6, 2019
Though he did fold in a three-way hand against Arlie Shaban and Jose Ferreira during level 4, he eventually fought back and bagged a stack of 90,200 for Day 2.
— Nikhil Segel (@NikhilSegel) January 7, 2019
India’s first PokerStars Team Ambassador Aditya Agarwal was also seen in the running. One of the most celebrated poker players in the country, Agarwal kept the rail back home informed of his progress on Twitter.
— Aditya Agarwal (@AdiAgarwal_int) January 6, 2019
— Aditya Agarwal (@AdiAgarwal_int) January 6, 2019
— Aditya Agarwal (@AdiAgarwal_int) January 6, 2019
— Aditya Agarwal (@AdiAgarwal_int) January 7, 2019
Agarwal ended the day with a count of 80,600 and looks poised for a deep run.
Veteran pro and cash game expert Raman Gujral qualified for the PSPC by topping the inaugural season of the Global Poker League (GPL) India, along with five other players. Even though Gujral lost some chips to Pablo Brito, he played well to build up a stack of 95,000 by level 7. When Brito from under-the-gun with 1,600, Gujral called from the cutoff and Gjergj Sinishtaj called from the big blind. All three players checked the flop and the fell on the turn. Gujral bet 2,400, Sinishtaj folded and Brito called. The on the river rounded off the board. Gujral fired again for 4,000 and Brito called after tanking for a while. Gujral tabled and Brito filpped over , winning the pot with a pair of queens.
Gujral survived Day 1 and advanced to Day 2 with 69,600 in the bag.
The last of the PSPC Pass winners to make the cut for Day 2 was yet another GLP India qualifier Saurabh Sindhwani.
He shared his arrival at the series on Twitter.
— Saurabh Sindhwani (@oneandonlySS) January 5, 2019
Sindhwani wrapped up his day at the felts with a workable stack of 65,500.
Sumit Sapra who punched his ticket to the PSPC after winning a Flipout tournament at the 2018 APPT Korea had a roller coaster ride on Day 1A. On Level 3, Sapra was very close to being eliminated when he clashed with Shyam Srinivasan and found his top pair struggling to hold up against Srinivasan’s open-ender. In the hand, the duo got 3,200 in each pre-flop, after Sapra opened from the early position and big blind Srinivasan 3-bet, prompting Sapra to make the call that saw them through the flop. At this point, Sapra had less than 13,000 left while Srinivasan had more than 100,000. Sapra moved a total of 12,800 in and Srinivasan called. Sapra’s were leading Srinivasan’s but it was still too close for comfort, since a nine or a four on the board could send him packing. However, it was the that appeared on the turn followed by the on the river, and Sapra secured a double up to take his stack to 31,000. However, nearly an hour later, as the play hit the midpoint, Sapra hit the rail.
By the time Level 6 closed out, two other Indian challengers Vivek Singh and Aneesh Nair had also hit the rail. Both the warriors were part of the winning team of the first-ever GPL India season and bagged a free Platinum Pass to the event.
Accomplished cash game specialist Kavin Shah who had led the GPL India team Mumbai Jetsetters to victory was also seen gunning through the event. However, like Singh and Nair, Shah too failed to find a bag for Day 2.
WSOP bracelet winner and India’s top ranked player Nipun Java kept up his sails high well till most part of the play. However, Java couldn’t survive past Level 7 and bowed out of the event.
Among the top stacks heading to Day 2 is Talal Shakerchi (425,300), who is leading the way. Following Shakerchi are Dan O’Brien (301,200) and Alexis Gavin (267,000). Indian-origin Shyam Srinivasan (254,000) and Dylan Wilkerson (244,300) are also sitting pretty with healthy stacks.
We will also be seeing Team PokerStars pro Celina Lin (116,900), Patrik Antonius (113,300), Chris Moneymaker (94,200), Michael Soyza (86,900), Lex Veldhius (80,300), Justin Bonomo (78,200), Phil Hellmuth (29,300) and Fintan Hand (28,500) returning on Day 2.
Among the notables we saw hitting the rail were Maria Konnikova, Twitch streamer Arlie Shaban, poker playing philanthropist Damon Ferrante, Ronald Mici, Platinum Pass winner Jeremy Hilsercop, blogger Matt Kiefer, and Joshua McLaggen.
1. Talal Shakerchi – 425,300
2. Dan O’Brien – 301,200
3. Alexis Gavin – 267,000
4. Andrei Kurov – 260,400
5. Shyam Srinivasan – 254,000
6. Salvatore Donato – 252,700
7. Dylan Wilkerson – 244,300
8. Jonathan Dokler – 240,100
9. Pavel Veksler – 230,300
10. Andrew Pantling – 230,000
Content & Images courtesy: PokerStars, PokerNews
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