The first of four opening-day flights in the 2023 WSOP Main Event concluded late Monday night with plenty of big names on hand and still in the running, while Israel’s Yehuda Dayan led 721 Day 1A surviviors into Friday’s Day 2ABC. Dayan bagged 389,900 in chips, six and a half times his 60,000 starting stack, after five two-hour levels of play.
Dayan narrowly edged Japan’s Shota Nakanishi for the Day 1A chipleader honor. Nakashini, who won a bracelet in a short-deck event last year, finished with 360,100 in chips and was the only other Day 1A entrant to top the 300,000-chip plateau.
Well-known poker figures enjoyed big Day 1A results as well. Prominent podcaster and three-time bracelet winner Doug Polk ended the day in fourth with 281,900. Faraz Jaka ended Day 1A 16th in the flight with 213,100, Sweden’s Erik Friberg was next with 212,800, and Bin Weng reported an even 200,000, good for 26th spot.
Others who bagged at least three times their opening stack included perennial “Grinch” hat wearer and Circuit regular David Moses (182,300), Poker Hall of Famer John Hennigan (171,000), 2006 Main Event winner Jamie Gold (163,500), who gave the honorary “Shuffle up and deal!” command, and 2014 Main Event winner Martin Jacobson (154,600).
Gold and Jacobson joined Joe Cada and Damian Salas as former Main Event winners who opted for the Day 1A flight, and all four survived into Day 2. Other notables who also bagged and tagged at least 100,000 on the day included Dominik Nitsche, Kyna England, Harrison Gimbel, John-Robert Bellande, Kevin Gerhart, Juha Helppi, Brian Hastings, Alex Livingston, Tony Dunst, Brad Ruben, Sean Winter, Aaron Massey, Clayton Maguire, Jeff “Boski” Sluzinski, and Barny Boatman.
Gold spent much of the afternoon at a feature table set up for PokerGO’s live-streaming coverage. That table was swapped out for a “Table of Fame” after the dinner break that randomly included Dunst, German bracelet winner Martin Finger, PHOF member Dewey Tomko (who spoke at the Doyle Brunson “Celebration of Life” ceremony on Sunday), actress/poker player Farah Galfond, streamed cash-game regular Alex Keating, and others.
Among those whose 2023 WSOP Main Event experience was much briefer than hoped for included Jon Pardy, Landon Tice, Clayton Fletcher, Joseph Cheong, Ryan Leng, Mikki Maze, Billy Baxter, and Kelly Minkin.
The WSOP did not release an official player count for Day 1A participants, but the tally was known to be at least 1,044 late in the day’s final level, suggesting a turnout of around 1,050 players. The 721 who survived the ten hours of play compares closely to last year’s Main Event, when 631 of 900 Day 1A players moved on to Day 2. The attendance bump also suggests that the 2023 Main Event will surpass its particpation record of 8,773, set back in 2006 when Gold won the event.