The Main Event of the inaugural PokerStars Festival New Jersey kicked off today and drew 81 players. After 10 one-hour levels, just 25 players survived and reserved a seat for Day 2. Bagging up the Day 1a chip lead was Ruben Costa with 222,500, followed by John Gulino with 196,700 and Ryan Hohner with 158,300.
Team PokerStars was well represented today with eight players, and those surviving the Day 1a flight were Victor Ramdin and Barry Greenstein with 69,200 and 34,200, respectively. The day was not as kind to a few others, though.
Jason Mercier grinded a short stack for much of the day, but busted with about 30 minutes left in the final level. His looked primed for a double against the of Bovic Gabriel when Mercier paired his king on the flop, but Gabriel found Broadway on the river to send Mercier to the rail. Felipe Ramos was down to a few big blinds early in the day and managed to double up three times, but also fell when his flush draw failed to hit against an opponent's overpair. Vanessa Selbst committed her chips after the turn with a check-shove on a board that read , but was insta-called by Gulino, who held for a set. Selbst just mucked her hand and Gulino rode that pot to bagging the second biggest stack of the day.
Andre Akkai, Chris Moneymaker, and Fatima Moreira de Melo were the other Team PokerStars Pros that failed to advance. Others who busted today include Natasha Barbour, Jonathan Little, Aaron Mermelstein, Je Wook Oh, Bruce Yamron, Albert Daher and Norman Michalek.
Play resumes Wednesday at 11 a.m. with Day 1b, and we'll be here to provide live updates on all of the action.
After folding plenty while nursing a short stack over the past few hours, PokerStars Team Pro Jason Mercier finally shoved all in for 9,600 in the small blind after Bovic Gabriel opened cutoff for 3,000. Gabriel called.
The flop came , giving Mercier the edge but he still had cards to fade. The turn wasn't one of them but Gabriel hit a straight on the river.
"Do I have to get up now?" Mercier asked with a smile.
Vanessa Selbst put in 1,500 from under the gun against four opponents on a flop. John Gulino called in middle position, and a player in the small blind came along as well. The turn was a , and action checked to Gulino. He bet 3,200. The small blind mucked fairly quickly, but Selbst took more time. After capping her cards and thinking a minute or two, she announced all in and received a snap-call.
Gulino turned over for a set, and Selbst just mucked. Her stack looked to be about 16,000, and Gulino could easily cover it.
Ryan Hohner got his remaining 13,225 all in from the cutoff on a board of against big blind Felipe Ramos, who had a little more. Hohner held aces and was fading just the remaining two jacks in the deck after Ramos tabled his fishhooks. The river was a , safe for Hohner. Ramos sent all but his last 675 across the table, so it will take a mighty comeback effort for him to get back in the game.
His fellow Brazilian Team PokerStars Pro had exited moments earlier, sending his stack to David Vamplew in a hand we didn't see.
After a few days of preliminary play, it's time for the Main Event of PokerStars Festival New Jersey to get underway.
The Main Event of PokerStars' long-awaited return to the live poker scene on U.S. soil is an $1,100 entry freezeout with one-hour levels and a 25,000 starting stack. Blinds begin at 50/100 and progress from there, with 10 levels of play planned on today's Day 1a schedule, ending at blinds of 600/1,200/200. Twenty-minute breaks will be given every two levels.
Some of the players already seen in the venue the first few days whom we expect to see in the tournament include PokerStars Team Pros Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker, and Victor Ramdin, as well as Jonathan Little, David Vamplew, and preliminary event winners Je Wook Oh and Michael Gagliano.
Cards are scheduled to fly at 11 a.m. local time here at Resorts Casino Hotel on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Stay tuned here on PokerNews for all of the live updates.