2017 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Day Two: 22 Players Remain with Canadian Ronald Laplante Leading



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Day Two of the World Poker Tour’s stop at the 2017 Fallsview Poker Classic is in the books. After popping the money bubble early in the day, the tournament was only able to work down to the final 22 players that will be headed by local player Ronald Laplante and facing a hectic Day Three for this afternoon.

148 hopefuls came back with the dreams of WPT glory in their minds and poker pro Ben Wilinofsky at the head of the field with his 275,900 in chips. As typical after surviving the Day One minefield, those that were on the short stacks tried to “double up or go home” and some were successful in that effort. Connor Drinan, not exactly hurting on a 100K-plus stack, doubled through Henry Tran after Drinan’s 5-4 found a miracle on an 8-4-4 flop against Tran’s A-3. The same couldn’t be said for Andre Defelice, who went against Thomas Lefort with both holding Big Slick; after four diamonds came on the board, Lefort’s K would play and send Defelice out the door.

One thing that hadn’t been concluded from Day One is what the players were knocking each other around for. The record 489 entry field had generated a $2,229,954 prize pool (Canadian, or $1,701,287 roughly U. S.), of which the top 63 players would earn a piece along with a new Hendon Mob flag. The eyes of all were at the top, though, where a nice payday of $449,484 ($335,436) awaits the eventual champion of the tournament.

Wilinofsky’s stay atop the standings wouldn’t last long into Day Two. Mark Toulouse would first leap over the Canadian pro, taking a chunk of chips off Darren Elias to crack the 300K mark. Then Andrew Chen would get into the game in what is a candidate for “hand of the year” even though we’re only a couple of months into 2017.

A four-way pot saw a once in a lifetime situation when Chen, holding pocket Queens, got his chips in against Frank Stepuchin, Ali Braaz and Omid Shahbazian, with Chen covering them all. The problem was (and information was spotty with the players’ recollections as to who held what) Chen was beating only one of those players pre-flop, who was holding J 10, while the others held pocket Kings and pocket Aces. On the flop, the two remaining Queens stunningly rolled onto the felt to give Chen quads and the lead. A blank turn sealed the deal, with Chen knocking out Stepuchin, Braaz and Shahbazian and shooting to 475K in the turn of a friendly card (or cards, in this case).

Chen would enjoy the lead for most of the afternoon as the money bubble came closer. When Rafik Yeghnazari saw his pocket Aces stand over two players – knocking out one in the process – the final 63 players were assured of their minimum payday of $8,176. That knockout also started the parade towards the cash cage as the players started dropping left and right.

Defending champion David Ormsby, Curt Kohlberg and the start of day chip leader Wilinofsky all saw their tournament stays ended before the dinner break. After that respite, only 47 players were left, but there was still a great deal of work left to do. With Championship Day on Friday, the remaining players had to get as close as possible to the WPT final table of six as possible, otherwise there would be a lengthy day on Friday for those remaining

They didn’t lack for effort. Blake Bohn, Aaron Massey, Chris Bell and Lefort would depart after the dinner break as the final three tables came into view. As the last level of the night played out, only five players – Shayne Matyjas, Nick Alafogiannis, Jason James, Peter Chien and Drinan finishing in 27th through 23rd places, respectively – would be eliminated as the jostling atop the leaderboard continued. Chen would be responsible for one of those knockouts (Alafogiannis), but he was unable to stop the onrushing train that was Laplante, who was almost knocked off the top of the mountain by David Eldridge’s elimination of Drinan to end the night.

1. Ron Laplante, 1.724 million
2. David Eldridge, 1.7 million
3. Buck Ramsay, 1.548 million
4. Novica Miskovic, 1.18 million
5. Kristen Bicknell, 1.018 million
6. David Ho, 982,000
7. Mark Zajdner, 803,000
8. Chrishan Sivasundaram, 733,000
9. Andrew Chen, 649,000
10. Darren Elias, 617,000

Elias is the only remaining member of the WPT Champions’ Club remaining in the tournament, but Bicknell bears watching also. The two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner is looking for the second leg of poker’s Triple Crown and it is easily conceivable to see her taking this title. Along with Laplante, also look out for Chen if he can get over his late-night slump from Thursday.

Action will resume at Fallsview Casino on the banks of Niagara Falls (the Canadian bank) this afternoon, with the champion crowned this evening. There will be no stream for this event and it will not be taped for broadcast on the Season XV schedule of the WPT (unfortunately like Ema Zajmovic’s historical victory at the WPT Montreal earlier this month). There will be a champion, however, who will be more than happy to take a few hundred thousand dollars’ home with them for the victory!

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