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.