Slightly more than four years ago, Sochi, Russia was the host to the world for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Since that time, the site has been the home for the Russian Grand Prix and the world’s greatest drivers from the Formula One ranks. But with winter blanketing the Russian countryside, the games have moved inside as the World Poker Tour’s visit to Sochi completed its second day on Thursday. At the end of the action, the players learned what they were playing for as Denis Kushnerov took over the lead.

Three Day Ones and an Online Day 1

The WPT Russia started off a bit scary (only 31 entries on Day 1A) but, by the time the three-Day Ones and an online Day 1 had been completed, 362 entries had been received. Of those entries, there were 201 players remaining in action. But this wasn’t the end for those Day 2 survivors, however. Late registration was still in effect until Level 12 on Thursday, meaning that there were plenty of opportunities for anyone to come in over the first three levels of the day to join the tournament.

And come out they did. At the start of action on Thursday, 58 players who had been eliminated over the Day 1 festivities decided to take another shot. This theme continued through the first three levels of the day until, by the end of Level 12, the total number of entries cracked the 500 mark at 503. After totaling up the over $1.2 million prize pool, it was determined that the final 63 players would be recipients of a reward for their work in Sochi, with the eventual champion walking off with a $255,258 payday that includes a seat at the 2019 WPT Tournament of Champions.

Some Notables Among Those Still Remaining

As it was Day 2 of the event, it was a bit too early to be worried about making the money. In fact, the day ended with 98 players remaining, quite a distance from the money. But that didn’t mean there weren’t some familiar names who made their way to Day 3.

Konstantin Puchkov was one of those familiar names, bagging up an impressive stack of 309,500 in chips by the time night fell in Sochi. Aleksandr Denisov bested him by sacking up 368,000 in chips, which was good enough for second place. But it was Kushnerov who was the story of the day.

Kushnerov came into Day 2 with a middling stack of around 26K in chips and couldn’t do anything with that stack. After busting within the first level of play on Thursday, Kushnerov was faced with a decision: reenter the tournament or call it and head to the exits. Kushnerov decided to reenter and it proved to be a wise decision as he ran roughshod over his opponents on his way to racking up 468,500 in chips to bag the Day 3 chip lead.

Deni Kushnerov, 468,500
Aleksandr Denisov, 368,000
Aleksandr Chernikov, 331,500
Konstantin Puchkov, 309,500
Vyacheslav Goryachev, 306,000
Vitaly Pankov, 295,000
Dmitriy Devyatov, 290,500
Nikolay Fal, 277,000
Andriy Lyubovetskiy, 275,500
Oleg Titov, 274,000

While it may appear that you’re looking at the roster of crewmen from the Red October, there are some names (along with Denisov and Puchkov) that will ring a bell for poker fans outside of Mother Russia. Anatoly Filatov, the popular Russian pro who is a partypoker ambassador, will be in the middle of the pack on Friday. He’ll be joined by former WPT champion Andrey Pateychuk and Aleksandr Merzhvinskiy with some chips, a chair and a chance at WPT glory.

Action will pick up again at noon in the Casino Sochi (4AM East Coast time), where the action will be quite tense. First up will be figuring out the 63 players who will walk away with an entry on their Hendon Mob database, then will come the task of working to a champion. The final table will be played out on Sunday, at which point the champion of the WPT Russia will be crowned.

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