The opening day of the 2022 World Series of Poker saw players battle it out for bragging rights at opposite ends of the buy-in scale as the $500-entry Casino Employees event and the $100,000 High Roller Bounty events both completed the opening days in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Justin Young Leads High Rollers After Busy Day 1

After the opening day of the $100,000-entry High Roller Bounty event, Event #2 of 102 bracelet events on the schedule this year – 88 live event, 13 online events and the Tournament of Champions – Justin Young leads the way. Young, who starred in the recent PGT Heads-Up Championship too, got off to the best start of the first open event of the series as 43 total entries on the day were whittled down to just 15 survivors.

The biggest event of the day was the High Roller Bounty event and from the off, plenty of action took place between some of the biggest players in poker. Three players who have come under the spotlight more than most in recent months – Ali Imsirovic, Bryn Kenney and Jake Schindler – all took part in the event, with only Imsirovic surviving the day. Another early elimination in terms of the opening day was that of Shaun Deeb, who fell to the PGT Heads-Up Championship winner Chino Rheem.

Deeb was all-in pre-flop with ace-nine and ahead of Rheem’s king-queen but when Rheem declared “I feel like gambling”, Deeb’s fate seemed sealed. So it proved on a king-high board that missed Deeb completely, as he slid out of the event. Others to fall early included British player Sam Grafton, four-time WPT winner Darren Elias and bracelet winners Scott Ball, Brian Rast and Mikita Badziakouski.

Ivey and Negreanu Both Survive

While some players struggled, others thrived in the red-hot atmosphere of a new event on the schedule. Holding a super high roller buy-in event on the opening day looks like a terrific idea by the organizers of the World Series of Poker, who have managed something few other years have done – getting Phil Ivey to the felt on Day 1. Just the sight of Ivey at the felt got poker fans excited.

Ivey was one of several stars of the game in their element amid the white hot action, and the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner piled up almost 2 million chips, good for a seventh-place finish by the close of play. That’s the middle of a 15-man pack heading to Day 2 as Justin Young bagged the lead with 3,565,000. Young’s day was punctuated by big pot wins that saw him leap up the leaderboard with giant strides, a set of kings against Alex Foxen’s set of jacks just one example of a monster hand that went Young’s way.

Following in Young’s wake is David Peters, with the three-time WSOP bracelet winner putting pressure on the leader Young – who has never won WSOP gold – with just over 3 million chips. Others to claim a top five stack were 2021 WSOP Main Event champion Koray Aldemir (2,930,000), the aforementioned Imsirovic (2,545,000) and popular high roller regular Bill Klein (2,240,000).

Others who made the top ten apart from Ivey included the former Main Event runner-up Dario Sammartino (2,180,000), who went for just $16 in the $25k Fantasy Draft which thrilled fans and players alike when it took place on Monday night. He was joined in the top ten by players such as Erik Seidel (1,645,000), Cary Katz (1,570,000), and recent WPT champion Chance Kornuth (1,335,000).

Daniel Negreanu finished the day just outside the top 10 on 1,235,000 chips and will be a big threat on Day 2 as he bids to win his first WSOP bracelet since 2013 at the 53rd annual WSOP this year.

WSOP 2022 Event #2 $100,000 High Roller Bounty Top 10 Chipcounts:
Place Player Country Chips
1st Justin Young U.S.A. 3,565,000
2nd David Peters U.S.A. 3,085,000
3rd Koray Aldemir Germany 2,930,000
4th Ali Imsirovic Bosnia/U.S.A. 2,545,000
5th Bill Klein U.S.A. 2,240,000
6th Dario Sammartino Italy 2,180,000
7th Phil Ivey U.S.A. 1,975,000
8th Erik Seidel U.S.A. 1,645,000
9th Cary Katz U.S.A. 1,570,000
10th Chance Kornuth U.S.A. 1,335,000

Hallaert Features in Remaining Field in Casino Employees Event

Just 82 players survived a tumultuous day at the felt in the opening event of the 2022 World Series of Poker, with defending champion Jimmy Barnett and Kenny Hallaert two to go through to the next day’s play in style in the Paris Ballroom in Las Vegas.

With a total field of 832 players, the $500 freezeout is the traditional curtain-raiser for the World Series of Poker, as players who have worked or do work in the casino industry get their chance to join legends of the game in poker history by playing for a WSOP bracelet.

This year, following Vanderpump’s opening ‘Shuffle up and deal’, the field got off to a fast start and players were all-in in short order as the fast structure and friendly atmosphere led to plenty of fun. The money bubble was approaching when Yori Epskamp busted with ace-king to Joe Fouad’s pocket eights and other named players such as David Tuchman, Vanderpump herself and former event winner Chad Holloway all busted outside the money spots.

Making the money and surviving to the end of play, there were big performances from players such as Shaun Colquhoun (885,000) and Arturo Jimenez (848,000), both of whom were duking it out for the chip lead during the late levels into the night.

At the close of play, Kenny Hallaert had 695,000 chips and will be one of the favorites to take the title (and his first WSOP bracelet) when play resumes on Day 2. Despite winning over $2.8m in WSOP events, Hallaert has never claimed gold at the World Series and will possibly never have a better Day 2 opportunity of doing so.

WSOP 2022 Event #1 $500 Casino Employees Top 10 Chipcounts:
Place Player Country Chips
1st Shaun Colquhoun U.S.A. 885,000
2nd Arturo Jimenez U.S.A. 848,000
3rd Kenny Hallaert Belgium 695,000
4th Kelli Phillips U.S.A. 613,000
5th Kirby Brewer U.S.A. 588,000
6th Michael Murray U.S.A. 533,000
7th Minxyun Kim U.S.A. 485,000
8th Vik Vijay U.S.A. 470,000
9th John Liu U.S.A. 427,000
10th James Sutherland U.S.A. 400,000

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2022 WSOP, Bryn Kenney, Phil Ivey, WSOP, WSOP 2022, Daniel Negreanu, Shaun Deeb, Jake Schindler, Ali Imsirovic, Kenny Hallaert, Lisa Vanderpump