WSOP: Poker Players Championship tests skills over five days

In the eyes of most poker fans, and even many players who confine their game to No-Limit Hold’em, the World Series of Poker Main Event is undoubtedly the most prestigious tournament of them all.

But ask the game’s greats, the veteran pros who excel across all of poker’s many disciplines, and you might just hear differently.

On Sunday, with the start of Event #62: $50,000 Poker Players Championship (Six-Handed), the truest test of poker’s top talent began in earnest.

And befitting a tournament of such stature, the Poker Players Championship spans the spectrum of poker skill. Over the course of five grueling days on the felt, the best players on the planet are put through the paces in an elite eight-game mix – one consisting of Limit Hold’em, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo Eight or Better, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Eight or Better, Razz, and Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw.

Per the live updates provided by PokerNews, yesterday’s Sportsbook day attracted 93 entrants – each of whom began with extremely deep 250,000-chip stacks at their disposal. Six levels lasting 100 minutes apiece were played, leaving just six players on the outside looking in: Daniel Cates, David Benyamine, Dan Shak, Iraj Parvizi, Jared Bleznick, and Ben Sulsky.

In Cates’ case, it was the event’s “wild card” that did him in, as he found Ad-Kd in a hand of No-Limit Hold’em and sent more than 200 big blinds into the middle with a five-bet jam. Mark Gregorich had the goods with Ac-As. The flop did drop in a diamond flush draw, coming Jd-8d-6c, but Cates bricked out on both the turn and river to become the day’s first casualty.

On the other side of the coin, the Day 1 leaderboard was topped by Matthew Ashton at 705,500, followed by Aaron Katz (682,700), four-time bracelet Sportsbook Robert Mizrachi (485,500), Harry Madoff (478,600), and Gregorich (465,200).

The surviving field of 87 is also stacked with superstars up and down the line, each hoping to outlast all others to claim the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy – named for the legendary pro who won the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event in 2006, before passing away unexpectedly one year later.

Among the big names still in contention are five-time bracelet Sportsbook Daniel Alaei (446,100), 10-time bracelet Sportsbook Johnny Chan (408,500), six-time bracelet Sportsbook Daniel Negreanu (360,100), defending champion Brian Rast (335,300), and 14-time bracelet Sportsbook Phil Hellmuth (307,300).

Day 2 of the Poker Players Championship resumes at 2 p.m. Las Vegas local time.

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