A total of 1,289 players came together on Day 1a of Event #6: The GIANT, though only 80 of them were left in action by the close of play. This is the first of five Day 1s of the GIANT, spread across five consecutive Fridays. At the end of the first one it is Justin Sternberg who leads the field, and appears to be the only player next to Danny Nguyen with over one million, although several players pushed him close.
Nguyen won a big pot towards the end of the night against former chip leader Martin Zamani. After Zamani opened, Nguyen defended his big blind. The pair checked a flop of ten-four-deuce and Nguyen check-called a bet of 30,000 on the turn, which was another ten. The river was a three. Nguyen checked again and Zamani bet 120,000. Nguyen moved all in for 430,000 and Zamani called. Nguyen showed ace-five for a wheel, and his opponent mucked.
Other big stacks include Elvis Toomas (995,000), Josh Reichard (935,000), Adam Richardson (895,000) and Vincent Lee (810,000). Both Andrew Kelsall (290,000) and Matt Affleck (210,000) also bagged stacks ahead of Day 2.
Several well-known players were in action early, including a whole host of bracelet winners. David "ODB" Baker, Konstantin Puchkov, Phil Laak and Allyn Shulman all know what it takes to win a WSOP gold bracelet, with Scott Davies winning his in the 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event.
There was a good start of proceedings for Laak, Andrew Kelsall and Matt Affleck who soon shot up to double starting stack after some early skirmishes at their respective tables.
Several players took advantage of the unlimited re-entry policy, including Jamie Kerstetter, Adam Owen and Shulman, and with the 20-minute levels it was imperative to get things going as soon as possible once you entered.
The likes of Dzmitry Urbanovich, Tom Hall, Fernando Brito, Calvin Anderson, Ryan Laplante, Craig Varnell and Kathy Liebert all featured on Day 1a, but bust short of the money.
A total of 194 players were guaranteed a min-cash worth $557. Adam Owen was eliminated just short of the money, after running ace-queen into ace-king, but it was Maxime Heroux who bubbled Day 1a of the GIANT after his kings were cracked by the ace-six of Eric Bunch.
The final few levels were a hectic mix of clashes leading to various changes in the chip lead. However, by the end of the night it was Sternberg who emerged as the overall chip leader for Day 1a, leading the final 80 players.
This year's event features five weekly Friday Day 1s, with the next taking place on 8th June before the Day 1 flights are combined on Saturday 30th June, and play down to a winner on Sunday 1st July. Stay tuned to PokerNews for all the live updates from the rest of the GIANT and the whole of the 2018 World Series of Poker.