The World Poker Tour has moved to the sunny climes of Jacksonville, FL, and the bestbet Jacksonville card room for their WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble. Now the only bounty tournament on the WPT schedule – the Bay 101 Shooting Star used to be the other until it was dropped from the WPT schedule in 2017 – the Jacksonville event usually draws a top-notch field looking to score some bounties to offset their buy-ins. For Day 1A of this year’s event, there was a smallish opening that could portend for a bigger crowd on Saturday.
30 Bounties on the Line
The $5000 buy-in event with unlimited reentries is becoming a staple on the WPT circuit, but the addition of the bounties to this tournament gives everyone a chance to earn some cash. The 30 bounties each offered a $2500 payout to whoever knocked them out, which usually leads to some creative play against the bounties. Those bounties weren’t going to be easy to earn, as such players as Anthony Zinno, Ari Engel, Darren Elias, Kelly Minkin, Kitty Kuo, Loni Harwood and many other top tournament professionals had cash on their tournament heads.
Even with the bounties, the players didn’t exactly flood the bestbet Jacksonville for Day 1A action on Friday. At the starting gun, only 50 players were in their seats for action. With 10 levels of play set for the day, it seemed as if players were willing to sacrifice some of the early play for leaping into the event before late registration cut off at the start of Level 7 (approximately 7PM) for each Day One.
The first bounty would go out in a stunning fashion. In middle position bestbet Bounty Matt Affleck put out a raise and got a call from Heather Warde in the small blind. Carlos Guerrero, in the big blind, pondered his action before slipping a three bet to 2000 into the center which set off the fireworks.
An undaunted Affleck four bet the action to 5000 and Warde pounded the pot with a five-bet to roughly 15K. Guerrero slowed his roll a bit by only calling, but Affleck popped it again with the remainder of his stack (approximately 17K), which was called by both Warde and Guerrero. The 4♣ 3♦ 7♦ saw Warde check and Guerrero shove his stack to the center, which Warde called for less, and the cards were turned up:
Warde: A♦ K♦
Affleck: pocket Queens
Guerrero: pocket Aces
Needing to get by any Queens or diamonds, Guerrero was relieved to see the board pair with a seven and finish with a 5♣ to take down the hand, go over 120,000 in chips, knock out two players and take down a $2500 bounty, all in one swing.
The news also wasn’t good for a few of the other bounties in the field. Taylor Patterson, former WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble champion Paul Petraglia, Jonathan Little, James Calderaro, Matt Savage and John Racener (by Guerrero for his second bounty) would all find their way to the rails by the end of the Day 1A action. But it was another bounty knockout that would serve as a jumpstart for the winner to drive to the top of the leaderboard once the chips were bagged for the night.
Riding a Hot Streak
Bounty Ray Quartomy pushed all in from the hijack, but former WPT champion Sam Panzica was having none of it. Panzica moved in from the cutoff and Ashraf Chehata, in the big blind, made the call for more than Quartomy’s bet but less than Panzica’s. Chehata only held an off suit Q-7 to go against the K♥ Q♥ of Quartomy and the Big Slick of Panzica, but it was enough once he turned a seven on a 9-6-5-7-4 board to win the hand and double his stack up.
Using those newfound chips, Chehata went on a heater that saw him also take down another bounty, Kuo, on his way to stacking up 359,500 in chips (the two bounties basically have him freerolling the tournament). Chehata’s day was so good he was close to 90,000 chips ahead of his closest competitor at the end of the night.
1. Ashraf Chehata, 359,500
2. Tan Nguyen, 270,000
3. Jarrett Hlavaty, 266,500
4. Brian Altman, 234,500
5. Carlos Guerrero, 227,000
6. Jake Schwartz, 205,500
7. Jerry Wong, 200,000
8. Nick Schwarmann, 200,000
9. Mike Sowers, 197,000
10. Aaron Van Blarcum, 182,000
The only bounties remaining among the 50 players who made it through Day 1A include Mike Sexton, Frank Stepuchin, Marvin Rettenmaier, Loni Harwood, Byron Kaverman, Schwartz, Zinno and Engel. The remaining bounties will be in action on Day 1B of the tournament.
Day 1B of the WPT bestbet Jacksonville Bounty Scramble will kick off at noon on Saturday and it should see a flood of players on the felt. Not only will the bounties be a draw but, as is typical with multi-Day One events, the final day is usually the largest. Expect to see the chips flying this afternoon in Jacksonville as the “posses” chase the bounties at the bestbet Jacksonville.