The money bubble burst at the 2019 World Poker Tour (WPT) Gardens Poker Festival Main Event on Tuesday as the field was trimmed from 54 players all the way to 11 heading into Day 4. Eric Hicks will enter Wednesday as the chip leader with 3.060 million, the only player to have eclipsed the 3 million chip barrier.

The other ten players are quite spread out after Hicks, most of whom are looking at quite the uphill battle to try to catch him. Just two players – Laszlo Molnar and Roger Teska – have more than 2 million, and they are in the low end of that range. Nobody else has more than 1.6 million and about half the players (can’t be exactly half unless one player is literally split in half) have under a million.

Still competing for the title are Day 1 chip leader Cord Garcia with 735,000 chips and Day 2 chip leader Lior Orel with 1.325 million. Maria Ho, fresh off of her World Series of Poker Main Event final table commentary for ESPN, is in sixth place with just over a million chips.

Hicks, an amateur poker player, has more than $300,000 in live tournament earnings to his credit. His best live cash came in 2017 when he finished fourth in the six-handed $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the WSOP for $101,513. He stands to make at least $28,445 in this tournament, but he has his eyes set on more.

He actually didn’t have his eyes set on much more earlier in the tournament, telling that his goal was really just to make the final table. But now that he sits atop the leaderboard with only eleven players remaining AND a 2019 BMW X1 going to the winner on top of the $368,475 first prize, Hicks’ dreams have gotten a bit larger.

“I never thought about winning anything like this, but the BMW has me thinking about it, because I would just love to throw the money in the car and just drive off with it,” he said.

Now that’s a guy I could play poker with. He is still keeping his expectations modest, though, trying to stick to his final table goal and being happy with that if he gets that far.

The hand that propelled Hicks to the top came right at the end of the night. James Calderaro, a former WPT champ, raised pre-flop to 60,000 chips and Hicks called from the big blind. On the flop of T♥-4♣-3♣, Hicks checked, Calderaro bet 100,000, Hicks check-raised to 400,000, and Calderaro moved all-in for 905,000.

Hicks called, flipping over K♣-T♣ for top pair and a flush draw. Calderaro had Queens for an overpair to the board. The turn was the 7♥ and the river was the 7♣, giving Hicks his flush and eliminating Calderaro in twelfth place.

Day 4 is just about to get started out in California and will run until the six-handed final table has been determined.

2019 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Festival Main Event – Day 3 Chip Counts

  1. Eric Hicks – 3,060,000
  2. Laszlo Molnar – 2,235,000
  3. Roger Teska – 2,150,000
  4. Lars Kamphues – 1,595,000
  5. Lior Orel – 1,325,000
  6. Maria Ho – 1,070,000
  7. Eric Wong – 905,000
  8. Andrew Wisdom – 770,000
  9. Cord Garcia – 735,000
  10. Nipun Java – 605,000
  11. Vladimir Vasilyev – 475,000

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