WSOP Main Event: Day 1A Offers Just a Taste of Chaos to Come

The opening day of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event was a busy one – but don’t fool yourself, it was simply the calm before the storm as the record for largest Main Event field size seems certain to fall.

Lance Bradley
Jul 4, 2023
2006 WSOP Main Event champion Jamie Gold was on hand on Monday to kick off the 2023 WSOP Main Event as WSOP executives look to break the record for largest field ever. (Drew Amato photo)

Each year the opening minutes of the first starting flight of the World Series of Poker Main Event is greeted with pomp, circumstance, and a level of excitement akin to Christmas morning and at the same time it also represents the calmest, least chaotic, and smallest day of the series.

Monday at the 2023 WSOP was no different as 2006 WSOP Main Event champion Jamie Gold kicked things off with the traditional Shuffle Up and Deal. Gold has been featured heavily in the marketing leading up to this year’s Main Event as the poster boy – and champion – of the largest Main Event field ever. In 2006, Gold outlasted 8,772 other entries and WSOP officials have made it clear that their mission for this year is to finally eclipse that record.

Tournament officials did not release the final number of entrants for Day 1A, but whispers indicate that they’ve eclipsed the 896 players who entered Day 1A last summer. If the pattern from last year holds, Day 1A represents approximately 10% of the total field. When Day 1B kicks off on Tuesday, the total entrants should be quite similar to Day 1A – the only caveat being that many players may elect to not enter as it conflicts with the July 4th holiday. Things will get really chaotic on Day 1C and then Day 1D as the majority of the field is likely to play those two starting days.

What We Saw on Day 1A

One of the consistent complaints about the 2023 WSOP has been something completely out of the hands of WSOP officials; traffic due to construction on the Las Vegas Strip. Doug Polk would have welcomed the opportunity to simply have been stuck in traffic before his Day 1 started. Instead, the three-time WSOP bracelet winner and content king was in a car accident on his way to the Horseshoe. Polk was unhurt in the accident and his day only got better from there as he ended up bagging one of the bigger stacks.

The WSOP Main Event draws players from all walks of life, from all corners of the world. Day 1A was absolutely no different and professor Elaine Luo was a shining example of that. The 30-year-old, who calls Charlotte, NC home, won her way into the WSOP Main Event through a home game league she’s in with 51 other players. The league started in the early days of the COVID lockdown and has sent a player to the WSOP Main Event the last two years.

Who Are the Day 1A Chip Leaders?

  1. Yehuda Dayan – 389,900 – Bagging the Day 1A chip lead in the WSOP Main Event is an impressive task, making it even more impressive is Yehuda Dayan’s apparent lack of live poker experience. According to his Hendon Mob profile, Dayan has only two live cashes, both on the Israeli Poker. In 2021, he finished 42nd in a $400 buy-in IPT event and walked away with $972. He bested that in 2023 by finishing 8th in another $400 buy-in IPT event for $9,532 putting his total lifetime earnings at $10,504.
  2. Shota Nakanishi (Japan) – 360,100 – While Dayan has very little live experience, Japan’s Shoto Nakanishi has a WSOP bracelet on his resume. Nakanishi won the $10,000 Short Deck event in 2022 for $277,212 and nearly $350,000 in lifetime earnings. 
  3. Hai-Chi Ho (China) – 297,400 – Sitting in third place after Day 1A is China’s Hai-Chi Ho and that’s literally all the internet has to offer on this player. Both and The Hendon Mob have no previous results listed for him.
  4. Doug Polk (USA) – 281,900 – Nearly the exact opposite of Hai-Chi Ho, Doug Polk is arguably one of the most famous poker players on the planet. Polk has three WSOP bracelets to his credit and just a smidge north of $10 million in career earnings. He does have one WSOP Main Event cash to his credit. He finish 592nd in 2011 for $21,295. 
  5. Neville Endo Costa (Brazil) – 275,000- Brazilian Neville Endo Costa has 19 World Series of Poker cashes to his credit and 18 of them came online via GGPoker events since 2020. His lone live WSOP cash if from 2014 when he finished 47th in the $1,500 Monster Stack for $26,534. Like many of his fellow Brazilians however, Costa has found success in the live arena inside the borders of his homeland. He has 19 cashes in various Brazilian events to help boost his total lifetime earnings to a little more than $900,000.

Who’s Moving On, Who Isn’t

There were a number of well known players who managed to find a bag at the end of the night. Bin Weng, who last month won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, turned his 60,000 starting stack into 200,000. Other players who survived and will return on Friday for Day 2ABC include Faraz Jaka (213,100),  John Hennigan (171,000), the aforementioned Jamie Gold (163,500) and fellow former WSOP Main Event champions Martin Jacobson (154,600), and Joe Cada (115,100), WPT ambassador Brad Owen (113,600) WPT commentator Tony Dunst (105,700), and WSOP Player of the Year contender Shaun Deeb (97,300). 

On the flipside of those big stacks however were the players who didn’t survive the day. That group included Landon Tice, Ryan Leng, Joseph Cheong, Taylor von Kriegenbergh, Billy Baxter, Jerry Wong, Jonathan Jaffe, Lynne Ji, and former WPT Player of the Year Jake Ferro.