It may be one of the quietest “high roller” events in history, coming on the heels of the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe, but the 2019 Poker Masters has been in action for the past week. The ten-tournament series with buy ins over $10,000 has been quite popular with some of the “elite” players in the game, all vying for the Purple Jacket signifying the Poker Masters champion. Those that have won so far, however, are a little bit lesser known than the players that they are defeating.
Five Down, Four to Go
The 2019 Poker Masters kicked off on Tuesday with a $10,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, featuring a field that put up 97 entries, one of the largest Poker Masters fields in the history of the event. Isaac Baron would emerge from a final table that included Dan Shak, former World Champion Scott Blumstein, Sam Soverel and Chance Kornuth. Baron, riding the chip lead from the start of the final table, would pocket a $223,100 first place prize and the early lead in the race for the Purple Jacket.
Ryan Laplante would step up in the second event on the schedule, the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha battle, and capture the crown. The Day 1 action brought in 62 entries, but only the final nine players would take any money for their efforts. Defending Poker Masters champion Ali Imsirovic took his first steps in defending his title, but it was Laplante and Kornuth (again) battling it out by the end for the championship. After a tough fight, Laplante was able to defeat Kornuth and take the $186,000 prize while Kornuth took over the lead of the Poker Masters Player of the Series race.
“Short deck” Hold’em – where deuces through fives are removed from the deck – took center stage on Thursday. A talented final table was headlined by 2018 Poker Player of the Year Alex Foxen, Poker Hall of Famer Erik Seidel and defending High Roller of the Year Soverel, but it was the relatively unknown Jonathan Depa who would emerge as the champion. Depa, who is looking to become “more known” after winning this event and the €50,000 Short Deck title at the WSOP Europe, took home a payday of $133,200 from the 37-entry field.
Another player “broke his duck” in Event #4 of the Poker Masters, the highly difficult 8-Game Mixed Event. A 45-entry field would come to the fore, but it was former online wizard Jared ‘Harrington10’ Bleznick defeating Poker Central owner Cary Katz for the title. In winning over the Poker Central honcho, Bleznick took home a $153,000 payday for his efforts.
Last night, it was Julien Martini’s big moment in the spotlight. 52 entries were recorded for the $10,000 Big Bet Mixed tournament and, by the time the final table was determined, U. S. Poker Open champion Stephen Chidwick was atop the standings and Martini was just happy to be there after coming back from HALF A BIG BLIND. Martini’s fortunes would reverse as he drove to the title, defeating Kahle Burns to win the championship and the $166,400 windfall that it brought.
Kornuth Holds Monster Lead in Event #6, Player of the Series Fight Wide Open
Event #6 is the first $25,000 event on the schedule, a No Limit Hold’em tournament, and Kornuth is looking to make it his own personal playground. There were 51 entries recorded for the tournament and, after Day 1 action on Saturday, Kornuth would hold a massive lead over the rest of the table. The eventual champion will receive a $408,000 reward for their efforts and Kornuth is in the best position to capture that bounty:
1. Chance Kornuth, 3.425 million
2. Ralph Wong, 940,000
3. Ali Imsirovic, 920,000
4. Andras Nemeth, 500,000
5. Kristen Bicknell, 465,000
6. Ben Heath, 125,000
Kornuth will be adding to his leading point total in the 2019 Poker Masters Championship standings from his efforts in this tournament. Currently Kornuth is leading the five men who have won tournaments during the opening of the Poker Masters and, since none of them are at this final table, they’ll be facing a difficult battle in catching Kornuth for the overall title. Currently the race for the Purple Jacket looks like this:
1. Chance Kornuth, 420 points
2. Isaac Baron, 300
(tie) Ryan Laplante
(tie) Julien Martini
(tie) Jared Bleznick
(tie) Jonathan Depa
6. Sam Soverel, 270
(tie) Jorryt van Hoof
(tie) Alex Foxen
(tie) Thai Ha
There’s still plenty of opportunity for this list to change, however. With Event #6 wrapping up on Sunday, there will be three more tournaments on the schedule. The last two are the big ones, a $50,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament and the $100,000 Poker Masters Main Event. While Kornuth would go a long way to seizing the Purple Jacket if he were to win Event #6 this afternoon, he wouldn’t be a lock for the title, especially with the big tournaments yet to come in the 2019 Poker Masters.