A busy day of action kicked off the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas as the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino welcomed players to the felt with 12 hours of action across three events.

Most eyes were on the $25,000-entry H.O.R.S.E. event, which was Event #2 on the schedule which features 88 events over the next eight weeks of action. The world’s biggest poker festival attracted some of the biggest names in the game on the first day, with Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow and Shaun Deeb all taking to the felt in pursuit of WSOP gold.

With 73 entries, Day 1 of the tournament concluded with just 47 players still in with a chance of victory although registration will remain open until the first card leaves the deck on Day 2 of this three-day event.

After 12 hours at the felt, it was Chad Eveslage who led the remaining players, with his stack of 860,000 chips ahead of his nearest challengers John Monette (589,500) and Jean Gaspard (569,000).

Players such as Ben Yu, Cary Katz, Felipe Ramos and Ari Engel all busted on Day 1 and they were joined on the rail by Josh Arieh, Mike Gorodinsky, Eli Elezra and David ‘’ODB’ Baker in the final levels. Others thrived, with Mike Matusow (421,500), Shaun Deeb (321,000), Daniel Negreanu (270,000) and David Benyamine (243,500) all ending the day above average. Record WSOP winner Phil Hellmuth (206,000), Dan Shak (202,000) and World Series TV commentator Norman Chad (150,500) all survived to Day 2 with healthy stacks.

Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. Top 10 Chip Counts
Position Player Country Chips
1st Chad Eveslage U.S.A. 860,000
2nd John Monnette U.S.A. 589,500
3rd Jean Gaspard U.S.A. 569,000
4th Jesse Klein U.S.A. 490,500
5th Mike Matusow U.S.A. 420,500
6th Adam Friedman U.S.A. 420,500
7th Chris Vitch U.S.A. 371,500
8th Shaun Deeb U.S.A. 321,000
9th Hal Rotholz U.S.A. 314,000
10th Randy Ohel U.S.A. 295,000
Amazon Room
Players filled the Amazon Room on Day 1 at the Rio in Las Vegas

The $1,000 COVID-19 Relief Charity Event #3 quickly attracted some great poker players in the world including some former World Champions. Overall, 266 players took part, with a prizepool of $205,400 being paid out to 39 players. After the opening day, just five players remain in the hunt, with Jesse Lonis leading them with a massive stack of over 2.2 million chips.

Lonis may be in the best position to claim the top prize of $54,844, but for a long time, some of poker’s most well-known names led the field, with Matt Stout chief amongst them. Stout would eventually bust in 16th place for $2,000, with other players making profit including Ryan Riess (18th for $2,000), Dylan Linde (20th for $1,817), Shannon Shorr (21st for $1,817), Pavel Plesuv (26th for $1,817), Ryan Laplante (31st for $1,590) and Ali Imsirovic (32nd for $1,590).

Others weren’t so fortunate to make the money, but PokerGO’s own Jeff Platt still had a blast in a fun event.

Former WSOP bracelet winner and Main Event final table player Jeremy Ausmus would appear to be Lonis’ biggest threat at the final table, although his stack of 1,345,000 is still dwarfed by Lonis’ stunning stack.

Event #3: $1,000 COVID-19 Relief Charity Event Final Table Chip Counts
Position Player Country Chips
1st Jesse Lonis U.S.A. 2,285,000
2nd Jeremy Ausmus U.S.A. 1,345,000
3rd Asher Conniff U.S.A. 755,000
4th Steve Gross U.S.A. 485,000
5th Mitchell Halverson U.S.A. 385,000

In the opening event of the series, the $500-entry Casino Employees Event, Leo Abbe led the field at the close of play as 419 entries were whittled down to just 50 survivors. With a massive prizepool meaning the top prize is worth $39,013, Abbe sits atop the leaderboard with 537,000 chips ahead of closest challengers Shaun Weintraub (474,000) and Roberto Reyna (461,000).

Plenty of big names from the world of poker media and casino staff took part in the tournament, including Garry Gates, who finished fourth in the WSOP Main Event back in 2019. He would not make the money, however, as he busted well before the money bubble burst with 63 players paid.

After Jason Smith’s elimination of Chris Moon left everyone still in seats in the money, there were a few more eliminations of players who cashed, with Gabriel Varela, Tyler Mitchell and Stephanie Behanic all making the money before players bagged and tagged. In an all-American top 10 list, Smith racked up 351,000 chips and will one to watch on the second day of the event.

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Event Top 10 Chip Counts
Position Player Country Chips
1st Leo Abbe U.S.A. 537,000
2nd Shawn Weintraub U.S.A. 474,000
3rd Roberto Reyna U.S.A. 461,000
4th Andrew Bart U.S.A. 422,000
5th Akash Desai U.S.A. 415,000
6th Jack Behrens U.S.A. 363,000
7th Marco Starnoni U.S.A. 363,000
8th Jason Smith U.S.A. 351,000
9th James Barnett U.S.A. 343,000
10th Daniel Kim U.S.A. 337,000

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WSOP, Phil Hellmuth, Jeremy Ausmus, Chad Eveslage, 2021 WSOP, WSOP 2021