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10:58 AM: Glantz ‘Clubhouse Leader’ From First Flight, Complete Day 1A Updates
Level 19 – Blinds (2,000/4,000/500)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395
Players Remaining: 57
Chip Average: 138,000

After 18 levels of play last night, just 57 of the total 395 Day 1A entrants were able to find the bag and advance from the first of two $1,000,000 GTD Poker Night in America Main Event starting flights. Those 57 players will enjoy a day off as they’ve already punched their tickets for Sunday’s Day 2 restart.

Matt Glantz will be the player to catch when Day 1B kicks off at 12 PM, as the Pennsylvanian bagged 440,000 to lead the opening flight into Day 2. Glantz was the only player to break the 400,000 chip mark but Dan DiZenzo is right on his tail, with just shy of 395,000. Chris Lyons and Everett Register were right near the quarter-million chip mark, with Esther Taylor-Brady rounding out the top-five with 226,000.

Those players will all return Sunday in great positions to not only make the money but also make a deep PNIA Main Event run but they’re going to have to contend with a very experienced field, with a complete list of the advancing Day 1A players provided below:

2 DIZENZO DAN SUSSEX, NJ 394,500 63 3
3 LYONS CHRIS HOUSTON, TX 250,500 90 4
7 HALE BRANT COLE, OK 215,000 83 4
10 BUI TIEP GARLAND, TX 191,500 90 9
11 JAFARI SAYED SPRING, TX 184,000 81 7
12 V TOMMY TX 178,000 91 1
13 HELDER JASON   177,500 81 1
14 CUSTER JUSTIN DALLAS, TX 177,000 72 2
15 MAHLER JOHN DALLAS, TX 177,000 91 6
18 HUANG YUNG HOUSTON, TX 170,000 99 4
19 DONNELLY BILL OKC, OK 170,000 64 8
21 GARDUNO ADRIAN AUSTIN, TX 162,000 100 2
23 MERKOW GREGG PLANO, TX 157,000 64 3
25 HARRISON JASON IRVING, TX 150,000 100 3
26 MILLER BOBBY DENTON, TX 146,500 63 1
27 BOND MATT DALLAS, TX 144,500 82 7
30 GEORGE GIL DESOTO, TX 138,000 83 3
31 TRUONG THAO SACHSE, TX 129,500 91 4
32 NODINE NOAH OKC, OK 123,000 63 8
34 MORRIS ARTHUR DALLAS, TX 120,000 82 8
35 WILSON JIM BROKENAR, OK 104,000 72 1
38 BRALEY DEREK DALLAS, TX 87,500 81 2
39 WATSON ANDREW TULSA, OK 80,000 92 4
40 CARAM ABRAHAM   78,000 72 4
41 KELLY MATT FORT W, TX 77,500 63 7
42 VU DUKE HOUSTON, TX 77,500 90 1
43 MULLENS SHANE PLANO, TX 76,000 83 9
46 THURMAN DONALD PLANO, TX 65,000 100 6
47 WOOD VAL DURANT, OK 64,500 64 4
51 KING CORLEY JR FORNEY, TX 51,000 99 6
56 MILLER JACK SAN AN, TX 32,500 91 9
57 PURMA ART IRVING, TX 11,000 92 7

A complete rundown of all the Day 1A action can be found below and a new updates page will be created prior to the start of Saturday’s Day 1B session. – Will OC

2:45 AM: End of Flight 1A, Matt Glantz Leads with Handful Over 200,000
Level 18 – Blinds (1,500/3,000/500)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

To say it was an eventful last level of the night would be an understatement.  Perhaps it was that players knew they had a second chance to run up a stack in tomorrow’s Flight B that led to the multiple all ins chiming from all of the final seven tables.  In the midst of all the craziness, the floor announced that the remaining players would play three final hands.  In those three hands we saw Matt Bond “cold four-bet rip” all in from the small blind holding pocket queens and getting called very light by Adrian Garduno holding 9♣7.  Bond flopped a set of queens and was awarded a full double to end the night with 144,500 in chips.  Conversely to Bond, Anthony Spinella was eliminated from play in the final three hands of the night after shoving all in with a straight, but running into the nut straight held by his opponent.  Brandon Cantu was up and down, literally, having doubled through an opponent, and then doubling that same opponent up the very next hand in two out of the final three hands.  Despite his end of day roller coaster ride, Cantu ended the night with 164,000.


Only 57 players remain from this first flight, and Matt Glantz (pictured) came out on the top of the Day 1A leader board bagging a whopping 440,000 in chips. Glantz was the only player to bag over 400,000 granting him the status of clubhouse leader heading into Sunday’s Day 2 restart, as well as the number to beat tomorrow in Day 1B.

The second largest stack belongs to Dan Dizenzo (394,500), the only player to bag over 300,000. 

A total of nine players bagged over the 200,000 chip mark, and our third through fifth place finishers fell into this category.  They were Chris Lyons (250,000), Everett Register (247,500), and Esther Taylor-Brady (226,500) respectively.

A few additional notables to bag in this flight included: Tommy V (178,000), Alex Greenblatt (141,500), Andy Spears (141,500), Arthur Morris (120,000), and Michael Sanders (88,000).

The second and final flight of this Poker Night in America $1,675 Main Event will kick off at noon CST (Saturday April 23rd).  We anticipate tomorrow’s field to be even larger than today’s, and the PNIA blog will be here to bring you all of the action as it unfolds starting at noon.  

A complete list of advancing Day 1A players from today’s session will be posted tomorrow morning prior to the start of Flight 1B.

– Molly Mossey

2:00 AM: Bag and Tag
Level 18 – Blinds (1,500/3,000/500)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

Bag and tag has just completed for the night.  A full recap along with major chip stacks will be posted shortly.

1:30 AM: Adrian Garduno Tops Leader Board
Level 18 – Blinds (1,500/3,000/500)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395


Just a few minutes ago, Adrian Garduno (pictured, left) was found putting his opponent John Lee (pictured, right) to the test.  Garduno check raised all in on a board reading 9♣4♠3, and while Lee had Garduno covered, if he made the call and lost the hand, Lee would be left extremely short stacked heading into this final level of the night.  After a few minutes of talking aloud about how it just “didn’t make sense,” Lee reluctantly released his hand.  Winning that pot put Garduno near the 200,000 chip mark.

Just a few minutes later, we found that Garduno’s chip stack continued to grow.  He is now sitting with just shy of 250,000 in chips, and is seemingly the second largest chip stack remaining.

The largest stack at the moment belongs to Jason Helder.  The notable WPT, EPT and WSOP player is looking to add a Poker Night in America cash to his resume here in Choctaw.  And if things continue as they are, Helder is on track to do just that with less than 30 minutes remaining before bag and tag in this first of two starting flights.

– Molly Mossey

1:20 AM: Final Break of the Night, Coloring Up
Level 17 – Blinds (1,200/2,400/400)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

Players have just begun their final 15 minute break of the night.  At this time the tournament staff will be racing off the 100 chips. Play will resume with 1,500/3,000 blinds and a 500 ante.  There are currently 72 of the original 395 runners remaining.

Players will play one final level after the break, and then will begin bag and tag.  Those not fortunate enough to make it through to Day 2 in this first flight will have another chance tomorrow beginning at noon CST in Flight B.  Final flights tend to be the biggest so it will likely not take long to meet/exceed the $1,000,000 guarantee offered in this tournament as we have already met over $600,000 of it on the first day alone.  

The PNIA blog will be here through the final level of the night, and will present a list of the remaining bigger stacks towards the end of the night.  A complete list of players making it through Day 1A will be posted tomorrow morning.  – Molly Mossey

12:35 AM: Smaller Stacks Fighting as We Near End of Day
Level 16 – Blinds (1,000/2,000/300)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

Half way through the third to last level of the night the discrepancies between the big and small stacks of the remaining 86 players are really starting to manifest.  Many of the smaller stacks are starting to get picked off by the 150,000+ stacks remaining in the field.  Maxx Coleman was unfortunately the latest short stack casualty of Day 1A.

Coleman got it all in holding A9♣ against an opponent’s 66♣ .  The board ran out KK♠10♠82, sending Coleman to the rail with the option to rebuy in tomorrow’s second and final flight.  Craig Varnell was another player recently eliminated.  Earlier in the day, Varnell was sitting on the largest stack in the room.  After running his pocket tens into Brant Hale’s pocket kings Varnell was never able to recover, and is now one of the players forced to try again tomorrow if he wants a chance at making Day 2.

Other players still under the 100,000 mark fighting to increase their stacks moving toward the end of Day 1A include:

Michael Sanders – 62,000
Greg Himmelbrand – 35,000
Andy Philachack – 85,000
Anthony Spinella – 85,000

The field is just a few minutes from the second to last level of the night and the PNIA blog will keep a close eye on the field until the bags are distributed in 40 minutes.  

– Molly Mossey

11:14 PM: Helder Headlines Big Stacks
Level 14 – Blinds (800/1,600/200)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395


With this Day 1A flight approaching the century mark in terms of remaining players, the leaderboard is starting to take shape. As it stands, there is one player, the previously mentioned Brant Hale, who is over the 200,000 chip mark but Jason Helder, pictured above, looks like he’s right below that threshold heading towards the end of Level 14.

The Pennsylvania native’s best career score came in Oklahoma but at Winstar, as Helder won The River Poker Series Main Event for $1,000,000 in 2014. Helder has a handful of other deep final table runs from the WPT, EPT and WSOP but he’ll be looking to add a Poker Night in America cash to his lengthy tournament resume this weekend.

So far, so good in that quest, as Helder is working a top-five stack, with the rest of the big stacks in the room listed below:

Brant Hale – 245,000
John Lee – 190,000
Jason Helder – 185,000
John Mahler – 175,000
Robert Dreyfuss – 160,000

– Will OC

10:53 PM: From Cash To Tournament
Level 14 – Blinds (800/1,600/200)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

Throughout this weekend, the Poker Night in America high stakes cash games are going to be headlining the action until the PNIA Main Event gets down to it’s final table, which will be live streamed on Monday. Two more days of cash game filming is still to be had but two players that headlined today’s action have opted to late register for the $1,000,000 GTD PNIA Main Event after some grueling sessions.


Those players have each seen a decent uptick in their stack since they got in the action right before the end of Level 12. Brandon Cantu, pictured above, has already nearly tripled his starting stack, as he’s working just shy of 60,000. The two-time WSOP bracelet winner was one of the biggest winner’s during today’s cash game action and he’s now enjoying a decent “free roll” in this Main Event starting flight.

Jim Carroll hasn’t gotten off to that good of a start but the TV personality was easily the most entertaining player during today’s cash game sessions. He played nearly every hand, most of them with his patented “capped blind strategy” and although he was the game’s biggest loser, booking a $7,000 loss, he’s hoping to shake that off and make another deep Choctaw run.


Carroll final tabled the WSOP Circuit Main Event earlier this year in January, where he finished 7th for a nearly $63,000 score. That event boasted $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool and the Texan will now try to regain that early 2016 form to record another final table finish in a massive Choctaw Main Event. – Will OC

10:34 PM: Hale’s Kings Hold To Move Up Leaderboard
Level 13 – Blinds (600/1,200/200)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395


In one of the final hands of Level 13, Brant Hale, pictured, shot himself up the leaderboard thanks to a sizable double through Craig Varnell. The hand was picked up with Hale opening to 2,700 from middle position and after John Lee called in the cutoff, Varnell put in a three-bet from the button.

Varnell pumped it to 10,700 and after some thought, and a few counts of his stack, Hale announced himself “all-in”. Lee quickly got out of the way and Varnell asked for a count. The dealer confirmed Hale’s estimate, as the stack weighed in at 78,700. Varnell, who had just over 150,000 behind, eventually called only to see that he was drawing to just two immediate outs.

Hale held KK♠ to Varnell’s 1010 and the pocket kings held through the 64♠2♣47♠ run out and when the dust settled, Varnell and Hale were more or less swapping spots on the Day 1A leaderboard. Hale stacked up just shy of 175,000 when their table broke a few minutes later and Varnell, who made a deep run in the WSOP Circuit Main Event earlier this year at Choctaw, is playing close to 70,000.

Hale, who is a native of Oklahoma, knows a thing or two about deep runs as well, with some of his best scores coming from the WSOP. A majority of his large career cashes and deep runs have come in Pot Limit Omaha events but his most recent final table run at Choctaw came in the CardPlayer Poker Tour Main Event in April of 2014. A year later, Hale is hoping to regain that form in the PNIA Main Event and it looks like he has, as he’s near the top of the leaderboard heading into Level 14. – Will OC

10:12 PM: ‘The Doctor’ Is In, Looking To Go Back To Back
Level 13 – Blinds (600/1,200/200)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395


Across the rafters of the Grand Theater are banners commemorating Main Event victories from a wide variety of series stops that have graced Choctaw Casino over the last few years. From CardPlayer Poker Tour winners, to WPT Champions, seemingly every series has made an appearance in Oklahoma and Poker Night in America is now making their’s in this $1,000,000 GTD Main Event.

The most recent Main Event winner banner is dedicated to Dr. Andy Philachack, who won this year’s WSOP Circuit Main Event in January. Philachack outlasted an over 1,500 player field to collect a nearly $395,000 score for his WSOPC victory and he’s now trying to become the first player since Abraham Araya to go back-to-back in Choctaw Main Events.

Philachack, who hails from Texas, will likely have to go through another sizable field, as there are just under 400 players registered for this opening Day 1A flight, with another estimated 600 or so expected tomorrow. – Will OC

9:55 PM: Back From Break, First Flight Frozen At 395
Level 13 – Blinds (600/1,200/200)
Total Day 1A Entrants: 395

This Day 1A flight has just returned from their most recent break and as they enter Level 13, this field has been frozen at 395 players. Of those nearly 400 players, it looks like close to 150 are still alive heading into the home stretch of this opening starting flight and we’re now left with six more levels before the bags come out.

Play will conclude tonight at the end of Level 18 or when 43 players remain, whichever comes first. Based on the pace of play, we imagine we won’t be getting down to our final five tables tonight, so we should see an over 43 player group advance from this Day 1A session.

Regardless of how many players make it through the next few hours, close to $600,000 of this event’s $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool has already been accounted for and we imagine that seven-figure number will be crushed relatively early in tomorrow’s Day 1B flight. – Will OC

9:30 PM: Phil Hellmuth’s Fatherly Advice Leads to Son’s Elimination
Level 12 – Blinds (500/1,000/100)

As reported earlier in the day, Phillip Hellmuth III, the son of Poker Great Phil Hellmuth won his entry into the $1,675 Poker Night in America Main Event through a super satellite yesterday.  On elder Phil’s break from the high stakes PNIA game earlier today, he checked in on his son in the Main Event.

Fast forward a few hours and the cash game has just wrapped up for the night.  Hellmuth once again sought out his son among the remaining tournament players, finding him at a table across the room with Matt Glantz and Lauren Bunch. 

Hellmuth Sr. walked up behind his son and said, “No matter what, do not ever fold jacks or tens to Matt Glantz pre-flop.”  The dealer then began to deal the next hand.

Hellmuth Jr. raised it up in middle position, and Matt Glantz bet enough to put Hellmuth all in.  After a moment’s pause, Hellmuth called and tabled pocket tens.  Glantz turned over pocket queens.

Unfortunately for Hellmuth, Jr. the board ran out safe for Glantz.  Hellmuth Jr. gathered his belongings and walked away from the table with his father walking right beside him. – Molly Mossey

9:00 PM: Matt Glantz Stealing From “The Old Guys”
Level 12 – Blinds (500/1,000/100)


Rush Street Gaming’s Matt Glantz is making quite a climb in this first flight of the $1,675 Poker Night in America Main Event at Choctaw casino.  He is currently sitting with 120,000 and according to a few players at the table, Glantz has been continually “gifted” chips ever since he sat down.

“Seriously, he has just been gifted chips all night long, especially by the “old guys,” Lauren Bunch says. “Glantz shoves all in, and anyone over the age of fifty just snap calls with like jack high. ‘Oh, you’re all in, oh….ok…I call with jack high’.  It’s beginning to look like a conspiracy,”  Bunch says with a smile on her face.

Greg Himelbrand was just moved to the direct left of Glantz and as he takes his seat Himmelbrand says, “It’s not just the old guys that give [Glantz] their chips.  It’s old, young, female, male…” he trails off.  

Glantz simply smiles while the table continues to joke about his positive fortune thus far in Day 1A.

Glantz managed to amass four PNIA cashes totaling $19,265 in March of this year alone.  He took 11th in the Main Event at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN on March 3rd, then went on to take 14th in the Main Event at Maryland Live on March 10th.  A week later he took 2nd in the $340 Pittsburgh Open/PNIA event, and six days after that took 11th in the $280 Poker Night Classic Event #1 in Philadelphia.  Glantz is obviously hoping to keep the streak alive, and is searching for a deep run in this $1,000,000 guaranteed Main Event at Choctaw. – Molly Mossey

8:15 PM: Esther Taylor-Brady Eliminated
Level 11 – Blinds (400/800/100)


One of the most highly regarded women in poker, Esther Taylor-Brady came to Durant, OK in search of her first Poker Night in America cash, but has recently been eliminated in a blind versus blind scenario.

Esther was short to start the hand, and after the small blind checked the 9♠84♣ flop, she shoved her remaining 5,000 in chips into the middle.  The small blind thought for nearly a minute, and then hesitantly called the all in.

Esther showed J♣10♣, for a straight draw, but her opponent was in the lead with a pair of eights holding A♣8♣.

Esther called Matt Glantz over from the neighboring table saying, “Glantz, check it out.” 

Glantz quickly rushed over to watch the K♠ hit the turn and the 4♠ river.  “How do you miss there,” Glantz asked. 

“I know, I know, I’ll see you in about an hour,” she said in return.

Esther still has the option to rebuy tonight and/or tomorrow if she chooses, as the rebuy period is open until the start of level 13. – Molly Mossey

7:30 PM: Back From Dinner, Eight Levels Remain
Level 10 – Blinds (300/600/100)

Day 1A is now back from dinner break, and 215 players remain. With registration open until the start of level 13, there is a chance we will break 400 players in this first of two starting flights.  There is already over $500,000 in the prizepool at the moment, which makes the likelihood of reaching the $1,000,000 guarantee all but certain.

Stay tuned to the PNIA blog for more updates as they unfold throughout the evening. 

As a reminder, there is also a Poker Night in America high stakes cash game being streamed live at www.pokernight.com/livestream/twitch. – Molly Mossey

6:30 PM: John Lee Leads Notables, Players Now on Dinner Break
Level 9 – Blinds (250/500/75)


While there is still plenty of poker left to be played, John Lee (pictured) appears to be the chip leader among the top notables in this first of two starting flights heading into the 60 minute dinner break.  The recent WSOP Circuit ring winner is positioning himself to make yet another deep run here in the $1,675 Poker Night in America Main Event.  Lee is sitting with around 145,000 in chips, and will look to continue growing his stack when play resumes.

Players will return to 300/600 blinds, and a 100 ante which means that anyone buying in after the dinner break will still have upwards of 33 big blinds to work with.

A few additional chip counts from around the room include:

Matt Glantz – 85,000
Michael Sanders – 65,000
Anthony Spinella – 60,000
Lauren Bunch – 50,000
Arthur Miller – 45,000
Craig Varnell – 45,000
Ray Henson – 40,000
Phillip Hellmuth Jr – 23,600
Greg HImmelbrand – 20,000

– Molly Mossey

5:15 PM: Phil Hellmuth Offers Fatherly Advice on Break From High Stakes Cash Game
Level 8 – Blinds (200/400/50)


It isn’t uncommon for parents to refer to their children as “munchkins,” “little ones,” and sometimes even lightheartedly as “little brats”.  In the case of Phil ‘The Poker Brat’ Hellmuth, and his budding poker player son Phillip Hellmuth III, we were granted a rare opportunity to witness free poker advice being offered up to his potential “Junior Poker Brat.” 

Yesterday evening Phil Hellmuth tweeted that he was sweating his son Phillip deep in a super satellite for this Poker Night in America $1,675 Main Event at Choctaw. 

This afternoon Hellmuth took his seat in the Poker Night in America high stakes cash game being filmed for live television production with the likes of Cate Hall, Dennis Phillips, Todd Brunson, Jim Carroll, BJ Imejjane, and Brandon Cantu.  When the cash game players went on break, Hellmuth sent a text in attempt to locate his son among the huge field of players in the large tournament area.  After locating him, Hellmuth went over to his son to “talk shop.”

“I took a few bad beats, but I am doing ok,” Hellmuth said to his son.  After Phillip folded his hand, the two then began quietly discussing Phillip’s chip stack, tablemates, and presumably his play thus far in the tournament.

The cash game players were called back to the stage to resume play, and with a light pat on the back, Hellmuth said goodbye to his son.  Phillip along with the other remaining tournament Main Event players are in the midst of level 8 playing 200/400 blinds with a 50 ante.  260 of the 352 entrants remain, with more sure to be added before the end of registration (beginning of level 13). – Molly Mossey

4:30 PM: Ray Henson Keeping it Lighthearted


Ray Henson has over $2,000,000 in live earnings, and is also a player that is no stranger to the Poker Night in America scene.  In late January of this year, Henson added his first ever PNIA cash to his resume after taking 19th in the PNIA Main Event at Thunder Valley.  Henson is looking to improve upon that cash here at Choctaw in our $1,000,000 guarantee prize pool.

A month after cashing in his first PNIA event, Henson went on to win the WPT L.A. Poker Classic $1,100 No Limit Hold’Em Turbo event, scoring $22,640.  Not 30 days later Henson narrowly missed another huge first place score when he took 4th in the WSOPc $1,675 Main Event at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, taking home another $76,830. 

Seemingly always found with a smile on his face, Henson is keeping to the norm in entertaining his table here at Choctaw.  We found Henson chatting with his neighboring players, and jokingly needling a player at his table for “leveling himself” after it took a few seconds for the player to realize he had just won the hand he was involved in.  Even with the light teasing, the table seems to be in bright spirits, with Henson leading the conversation.

At the present moment 255 of the original 330 runners remain in this first of two starting flights.  Those players will soon start level 7, and play 150/300 blinds with a 25 ante.  Anyone wishing to enter or re-enter has until the start of level 13 to do so, and at this pace, it looks likely that we will hit over 400 players in this first of two starting flights, leaving us well on track to crush the $1,000,000 guarantee. – Molly Mossey

3:30 PM: Michael Sander With Home Field Advantage


While Michael Sanders is not currently sitting at the top of the leaderboard just yet, he is well on his way with over double the starting stack, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see him dart to the top by the end of the day.  With just over $1,000,000 in live earnings, Sander’s two biggest scores occurred right here at Chocataw.  In January of 2012 Sanders took down the $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Choctaw Poker Classic for $103,652.  In April of 2012, he took 3rd in the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event, granting him an additional $123,430.

Sanders’ most recent first place win came less than four months ago when he took down the WSOP $250 Pot Limit Omaha 8 Event in Tunica.  Just two days later he went on to final table the $580 No Limit Hold’em Ring Event as well.  Two months later Sanders made two deep runs in the WSOP Circuit at Bally’s Las Vegas.  He took 11th in the $580 NLH ring event, and was eliminated just shy of the unofficial final table in 13th place in the $1,675 Main Event, adding another $20,960 to his winnings.

With this Poker Night in America Main Event, Sanders is hoping to add a third six figure score, and his first PNIA cash to his already impressive poker resume. – Molly Mossey

3:00 PM: Lauren Bunch Takes Her Seat After Long Night of Cash


The first break of the day is almost over, and well known cash player and Oklahoma resident Lauren Bunch is ready to take her seat.  We caught up with Bunch over the break, and she told us that her and her husband Eric found themselves involved in a juicy PLO cash game until 8:30 this morning.  Bunch recently ran into a bit of bad luck at the World Series of Poker Main Event in Council Bluffs, IA, after getting her aces cracked by eventual winner Maurice Hawkin’s pocket jacks, she is hoping to run much better here in her home state, and cash in her first ever Poker Night in America Main Event.   

“I usually don’t like to late register, but after playing PLO until 8:30 this morning, it was a necessity,” Bunch said.  When asked if her husband late registered along with her, she responded, “No, he’s still asleep. He played even later than I did”.  From what we’ve heard, the cash games are in fact juicy here at Choctaw casino.  In addition to all of the cash games running, PNIA is also streaming their feature live cash table at www.pokernight.com/livestream/twitch

Luckily for Eric he has until the start of level 13 to register, and if he decides to snooze through this first flight, he will have another chance tomorrow in the second and final flight starting at noon. – Molly Mossey

2:15 PM: John Lee Taking Early Lead in Flight 1A After Scoring Knockout


Since January of this year, John Lee has been crushing the East Coast poker scene, cashing in seven events from January-April.  Those seven cashes account for $129,000 of his total $499,764 in live earnings, and granted him his very first World Series of Poker Gold Circuit Ring in the $365 NLH Monster Stack event.

After watching Lee play for even a few minutes, it’s easy to see how and why his cashes are climbing.  We found Lee under the gun and in the tank facing an all in bet from an opponent in the hijack.  The board read 9♠ 5 2 5 A♠, and Lee would need to call just over 19,000.  “Wow,” Lee said, as he stared his opponent down, “Quads?”  After another minute of intense staring,  Lee threw in a 5,000 chip and announced a call.  His opponent quickly turned over QQ♠ for two pair, but Lee had flopping a flush draw and rivered a pair of aces holding A4 to take down the pot, and send his opponent to the rail. 

Lee is now sitting with nearly 80,000 in chips just before the start of first break.  Players will now head out on a short break, and return to play level 4, with 75/150 blinds. – Molly Mossey

1:20 PM: Repeat Battle Between First and Second?


As noted previously, professional poker player Hunter Cichy is here in Durant, OK searching for his breakout score in the Poker Night in America scene.  Cichy’s biggest score at last year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas occurred when he took second in the inaugural $1,000 WSOP.com online ring event, taking home $116,066.  Anthony ‘CaseDismissed’ Spinella went on to win that same event, granting him $197,743 for his victory, along with the coveted gold bracelet.  These two players battled it out in an epic heads up battle, and if history repeats itself, they will have the chance for a repeat show down here in Oklahoma.  Spinella is seated just a few tables over from Cichy, and is also looking to breakthrough the cash barrier of PNIA.

Spinella has just under $1,200,000 in earnings, and while he has yet to cash in any PNIA events, he is no stranger to Choctaw. Shortly after taking down his WSOP bracelet last summer, Spinella went on to cash in the World Poker Tour $3,700 Main Event here in Durant.  It remains to be seen if Spinella’s experience in Oklahoma will serve him better, or if Cichy’s drive to take first will overtake his lack of “experience” in this state. – Molly Mossey

12:30 PM: Hunter Cichy Seeking PNIA Breakout Score


Hunter Cichy is certainly not a new face in the poker world.  This Minnesota native jumpstarted his poker resume by taking down a $500 Midwest Poker Classic event in Columbus, Minnesota in 2013.  Since then, he has become a very recognizable face in the poker industry, amassing over $673,000 in winnings.  Cichy now resides in Florida, and has become a staple in the Florida poker scene. 

In addition to taking second place in the World Series of Poker Inaugural Online Bracelet event last Summer,  Cichy has traveled both nationally and Internationally, amassing scores all along the way.  In November of 2015, he took first in the $1,750 No Limit Hold’em Event in Santo Domingo, adding an impressive $123,000 to his winnings.  Since returning from that tournament abroad, he has accomplished deep runs/cashes in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Hollywood, Florida.

Cichy is actively searching for a deep run to break through the barrier of the PNIA scene, and also looking to acquire his first cash here in the great state of Oklahoma.

Players are now in the midst of level 2, with over 227 runners hoping to make Day 2, and ultimately the Final Table of the cardinal PNIA event here at Chocataw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. – Molly Mossey

12:00 PM: Cards in the air

Players are now taking their seats, and Level 1 of the $1,650 Poker Night in America Main Event has just kicked off.

Players will start today with 20,000 in chips, and will play 17 40 minute levels before bag and tag.

Anyone wishing to enter to re-enter has until the end of Level 12 to do so. – Molly Mossey

11:30 AM: Half hour until launch

We’re still a half hour away from the start of the $1,000,000 GTD Poker Night in America Choctaw Main Event so the quietness in the Grand Theater is slightly expected. That’s going to be the location for both the PNIA Main Event and the entire weekend of cash game filming and while the room is far from capacity, we should be there shortly.

Over 1,000 players are expected to take their seats for this $1,000,000 guaranteed Main Event over the next two days and their journey to Monday’s live streaming final table will begin at 12 PM. That’s when the first Day 1A flight kicks off and players will start this $1,620 buy-in Main Event with 20,000 tournament chips.

This event’s structure will see 40 minute levels played throughout, with late registration and unlimited re-entry available through Level 12. That’s around 9:30 PM and this starting flight should last until around 12:30 AM, with play concluding after Level 17.

We’ll be bringing you updates from this opening $1,000,000 GTD Main Event starting flight throughout the next few hours, with coverage starting once cards get in the air. – Will OC

11 AM: Poker Night in America Main Event just an hour away

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After back to back weekends at more or less home away from home locations for the PNIA crew, we’re making our first ever trip to the South this weekend. Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma is the the final pre-summer stop for PNIA and we’re ending the spring season with some higher stakes, as this PNIA Choctaw Main Event will boast a $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.

That Main Event will boast two starting flights, the first of which is set to begin today at 12 PM. While the $1,000,000 GTD Main Event plays down to it’s final table of five, six sessions of Poker Night in America ‘The Cash Game’ will run with some big name lineups and likely even bigger action.

That action can be found on the PNIA Twitch channel but the PNIA website is going to be home to all your Main Event action and coverage. Will OC and Molly Mossey will be providing updates throughout the weekend, with their first coming once cards get in the air. – Will OC

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