Danish poker pro Morten Mortensen made a late charge Saturday to snag the chip lead after Day 1A of the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship.
Mortensen eliminated an opponent on the final hand of the night and bagged 276,000 when play at the Rio Convention Center was completed.
England’s Sam Grafton had the lead for most of the afternoon and evening and is in second place with 231,600. Griffin Abel of Pittsburgh is third (226,000).
Day 1A was the largest first-day field for the Main Event since 2013 with 795 entrants, and more than 200 players already busted out during the first of three starting flights.
The Main Event continues at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Rio with Day 1B.
“I was fortunate enough to be dealt a lot of playable hands and I was able to win most of them,” Mortensen told WSOP.com. “Other than the last hand of the night, most of the pots I played weren’t very big.”
Grafton, a professional poker player with just shy of $5 million in online earnings, won a massive pot early and amassed nearly four times his 50,000-chip starting stack by the 6 p.m. dinner break.
“I’ve actually had a decent stack in this tournament before,” Grafton said. “There’s a long way to go. Obviously it’s like a marathon. But it’s going to be a really nice (two) days for me now by the pool knowing that this stack’s in the bag.”
Also in the top five after the first day is professional poker player and author Jonathan Little, who finished with 210,300 chips.
Defending champion Qui Nguyen of Las Vegas spent much of his day at one of the feature tables and bagged 96,700 chips.
Martin Jacobson, the 2014 Main Event winner, was down to a little more than 2,000 chips at one point before he doubled up during the final level of play with quad nines. Jacobson finished with 36,800 chips.
Jerry Yang wasn’t as fortunate, as the 2007 champion was eliminated Saturday evening.
Man of “steal”
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Jonathan Dwek.
Dwek, a business consultant from Toronto, played the opening day of the Main Event while wearing a Superman costume complete with bulging muscles.
“I just thought it would be fun to dress up,” Dwek said.
The Main Event has been Dwek’s Kryptonite, as he has never made the money in eight previous tries. But Dwek chipped up at the end of the night and was just outside of the top 100 when play concluded with 104,600 chips.
“So far, so good,” said Clark Kent, err Dwek.
Samuel Yun had the dubious distinction of being the first player eliminated from the Main Event.
Yun’s lost to the flopped 10-high straight of Austrian David Vedral and didn’t even make it to the first break.
Vedral used the early win as a springboard and finished with 155,000 chips, good for 29th place overall.
DAY 1A CHIP COUNTS
1, Morten Mortensen (Copenhagen) 276,000
2, Sam Grafton (Leamington Spa, England) 231,600
3, Griffin Abel (Pittsburgh) 226,000
4, Jonathan Little (Las Vegas) 211,300
5, David Eldridge (Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania) 207,000
6, Nachman Berlin (Brooklyn, New York) 205,000
7, Frank Crivello (San Diego) 192,000
8, Michael Kim Falcon Ravn (Denmark) 188,800
9, Rahul Byrraju (India) 186,100
10, Ronnie Brown (Las Vegas) 181,100