There are few opportunities for Vancouver, B.C.’s poker players to play in a premier poker tournament in their hometown. So when the $1,650 PlayNow Poker Championship Main Event kicked off on Friday with Day 1a, all 100 seats were sold out and Saturday’s 100 Day 1b seats are also all filled.
It's the sixth and final event of the 11-day series that has kept the poker room at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver busy over the past week.
Play began at 11 a.m. and continued through 12 45-minute levels until just 36 players remained at about 9:30 p.m. Leading the way is a pack of three guys with mountains of chips. Kayvan Payman (356,600), Woody Nielsen (290,500), and Mal Hagan (166,700) are a local group of friends that have been playing and travelling together for years. Between them, they account for 27 percent of the chips in play, while Payman personally holds 11.8 percent!
Hagan emerged as the chip leader early in the day when he came out on top of a three-way all-in pot that saw him knock out two opponents at once. Then Payman swept past him in the chip counts in the mid afternoon, and Nielsen crept past him a few times to hold the top spot before Payman made a final surge to fix himself firmly up top.
Payman has had some success on PokerStars’ European Poker Tour (EPT) circuit over the year. His first major score was coming fifth in the EPT London Main Event in 2010 for £190,000. Later that year, he final-tabled a hold’em side event at EPT Prague and won a pot-limit Omaha event. Two years later he won a pot-limit Omaha-8 event at the same stop in Prague.
He also plays on PokerStars under the name ‘bindernutnut’ and he made the final table of this year’s World Championship of Online Poker Main Event, earning $100,000 when he was eliminated in ninth place.
2015 PNPC $1,650 Main Event Day 1a Top 10 Counts
Other players to survive the day include Mike Graf (115,200) who is looking for his fourth final table in a row in this series, and the very accomplished Shawn Buchanan (52,000).
Those who began the day with a starting stack but didn’t bag chips include PlayNow Poker Champion from the recent series in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kevin Lee, World Series of Poker bracelet winners Matt Jarvis and Ashkan Razavi, and local heavyweights Todd Fletcher, Jonas Mackoff, Jason Mann, and Alex Bylicki, among many other talented players.
The 36 who bagged chips will return for Sunday’s Day 2 to play down to a winner. Meanwhile, another sold-out field of 100 players will play Day 1b on Saturday to qualify the other half of Day 2’s field.
PokerNews Canada will be on the tournament floor posting live updates throughout the day. Follow along on our live reporting page for the biggest hands, tallest stacks, notable players, and photos of the action.