The 2017 World Series of Poker opened its doors 40 days and 72 tournaments ago and Saturday marked Day 1A of the $10,000 World Championship Main Event. The most prestigious tournament in poker broadcast live for the first time in the 47-year history of the event from Day 1 on PokerGO and ESPN. The first of three starting flights fielded 795 entrants and after five, two-hour levels 576 players remain. Sam Grafton looked to be chip leader with 240,000 but Morten Mortensen cracked pocket kings on the last hand of the night to lead with 276,000.

“I really enjoyed it – I’ve never played Day 1A before,” Grafton said. “It was very tranquil in the Brasilia Room today. I woke up feeling good and wasn’t going to even play today – I went to dinner last night and my friend told me it was good day to play. I had a couple glasses of red wine, I woke up at 11 and registered 40 minutes in.”

“It’s been a dream day – everything I’ve tried has gone well,” Grafton added. “When I’ve been bluffing with some outs, I made them on the river. I’m really happy with the stack I’ve got.”

“There were a couple of big hands I had today. These are little spots where you deviate from the GTO approach when you know someone’s got a big hand you can really go to town on value,” said Grafton. “Maybe at the beginning of summer, when I’m in an online mode, I don’t make that play. But I’ve played a lot of live poker this summer and feel like I’ve improved somewhat.”

Grafton closed with saying that, “this is a marathon, but I’m going to enjoy a few days by the pool knowing this stack is in the bag.”

Jonathan Little finished the day over the 200,000-mark. “I had my fair share of starting hands but I actually chipped up slowly,” Little said. “No one applied much pressure and I’m happy with my day. I’m taking tomorrow to play the Charity Series of Poker and then a day to recover for Tuesday’s Day 2.”

Jonathan Little followed his own Day 1A advice and finished in the top ten spots. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)
From the start of the day the field was spread across the Amazon and Brasilia Rooms – including the three feature tables in Brasilia for the PokerGO stream.

Three former Main Event champs took to the felt Friday with defending champ Qui Nguyen, Martin Jacobson and Jerry Yang. Nguyen and Jacobson survived the day while Yang hit the rail around the dinner break.

Defending Main Event champ Qui Nguyen played and survived Day 1A. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)

Phil Laak, Billy Baxter, Mike Matusow, Josh Arieh and Richard Seymour are just a few of the notable advancing players with above average counts. Doug Polk, Pratyush Buddiga, Brock Parker and James Akenhead return with short stacks.

The Day 1A field is the largest since 2013 when 943 players registered for the flight. In 2014 Day 1A drew 771 entrants, 2015 had 741 runners and 2016 ticked back up to 764 entrants.

Matt Savage had success in Vegas with the TDA but busted on Day 1A of the Main Event. (Photo: PokerPhotoArchive.com)
World Poker Tour executive tour director Matt Savage played and busted Saturday, along with, Sorel Mizzi, Anthony Spinella, Dan Shak and Leon Tsoukernik.

Day 1B gets cards in the air Sunday at 11 am and they’ll play the same five, two-hour level schedule with a 90-minute dinner break. The broadcast begins on ESPN2 at 11 am PT – 3 pm PT and then PokerGO picks the broadcast from 3 pm – 6:15 pm.

Full chip counts and seating assignments will be available on WSOP.com in the morning.