When we planned our daily dispatches articles, we assumed we’d be filling it with stories off the felt, fun side titbits from living and breathing the…

When we planned our daily dispatches articles, we assumed we’d be filling it with stories off the felt, fun side titbits from living and breathing the Atlantis Resort for a two-week stint. In reality, 48 hours in and there has been little time, little space to think, breath or write on anything but poker.

Monday was non-stop for players, the crew and the media. It was a day all about the turnout, the busts, the prize pool and the payouts. It was a day of Excel number crunching and chart making and PR reading and atmosphere feeling. We typed and tweeted and photoed and even instagrammed one time.

So below you’ll find the fruits of our 24 hours. Enjoy it while we’re grinding it out and I’m sure by the end of the week we’ll be reporting on burgers eaten, cocktails paid for and pools swum in.

Numbers Up

Monday was all about the numbers. As you might have read from our coverage yesterday, the final turnout when registration closed was 1039 players. While it just fell short of being able to call itself “the biggest prize pool outside the WSOP” it is still well beyond all reasonable expectations and sets a new bar for a high roller tournament.

Of course, when you are adding $9 million into the prize pool, you’re going to want to create something special for your money. But even if you deduct all 320 Platinum Pass entries from the numbers, you’re still left with a record-breaking $25,000 buy-in tournament and PokerStars’ largest ever live event.


The other big surprise from Monday was just how many people hit the rail over the course of Day 2. We heard chatter than there was an expectation that around 50% to 65% of people would survive the first day; instead, some 75% took a stack through to the second day. Would five days be enough to whittle things down to a winner?

Such fears were quickly put aside on Monday, which proved to be a comparative massacre. From the 750 or so who took their seats that day, just 215 survived to move onto Day 3. That means 71% of all Day 1 survivors busted out.

Among those who busted were a litany of pros and personalities, from fan faves like Kevmath and Joey Ingram to big name live circuit pros like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu, to hundreds more from platinum pass winners, poker site ambassadors and online pros.

So just 215 survived and now it’s more of a question of will enough of these players last the remaining three days so we have a good final table come Friday? It will be interesting to see how PokerStars schedules the remaining days to keep the action going.

Of those 215, 54 are Platinum Passes winners, around 25%. Given that initially they represented just under a third of the field, this is a pretty impressive performance by the collective group, which will be made up of a mix of skill and talent.

While no platinum pass holder is a favorite to win—the top ten chip leaders are all direct buy-ins or satellite winners are a few in contention, with six having 500,000 chip stacks. Action starts at level 17 on Tuesday with blinds of 4000/8000, so there are a few there with 60BB chip stacks looking for a deep run.


We’re going to have the money bubble today, and probably quite soon. 181 places pay out so we only need 33 busts (15% of the field) before it’s bubble time.

Around a dozen players are under 10 big blinds; some 30% of the field have 20 big blinds or less. This could all happen very fast.

Curiously, the min-cash in the tournament is barely more than a buy-in, paying out just $25,450. The explanation given is that the operator has decided to take the money they normally would charge as an admin fee in such a tournament (a not-to-be-sniffed-at $750,000), and rather than increase existing payouts, they have decided to extend the number of prizes, paying out an extra 30 spots by effectively returning the buy-in. The “regular” payout starts at spot 151, where the cash is $35,000.

Even so, we can expect the bubble to be an extremely tense affair—indeed, the action from the get-go on Tuesday is likely to be very tight. There’s going to be a lot of Platinum Pass winners where a $25,450 prize is some life-changing money and they’re not going to do anything if it jeopardizes them cashing.

Meanwhile, it is going to be a feeding frenzy for the big stacks who are going to do well picking up a lot of uncontested blinds and antes.

Shining Moments

While the focus is on all these numbers, obviously there’s a lot of behind the scenes stories being told, and the guys at Pocket Fives and PokerNews (not to mention all the PokerStars staff and crew) are putting in some immense hours to put it all together and bring it to the community.

This is certainly one of the craziest moments so far:

A preflop raise and a call. The KsQd9s flop goes check check. The Qd turn goes check bet call. The river As makes a “straighty-flushy-paired board.” Check-bet-all in shove…. and fold. The folder shows AQ for the second best full house. The player who flatted pre, checked the flop, check-called the turn, and check-raised the river shows pocket aces for the rivered nut full house. :headexplode:

We can also highly recommend The Fives podcast, who are doing an excellent daily podcast. EP2 has just been uploaded.