Only three events are left in the World Poker Tour’s Season XVII schedule and their stop in Florida is so far a big one. The WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood, FL, kicked off the first of two-Day Ones with a monstrous field that saw Davian Santana come out on top by the close of the day.

Players Ready for Action

With unlimited $3500 entries and being one of the last three events on the WPT schedule, there was expected to be a throng come out even thought it was a Day 1A. Out of the gate, 215 players were on the tables and, even though they started with 40K in chips each, the numbers ramped up quickly. With eight levels of unlimited re-entry (and late entry), just how high the final count would be was eagerly anticipated.

While the tote board went skyward, the players set about sending their chip stacks skyward. WPT champion David ‘ODB’ Baker and Kelly Minkin had some early success, but Tristan Wade and Phil Hui saw their chip stacks cut in half only 30 minutes into action. Former WPT champion Mohsin Charania was an early leader in cracking the 50K mark, however, forcing an opponent off a pot with a river bet on a J-10-3-4-Q board (his opponent felt he had a Jack or ten).

Coming back for action at Level 3, the tournament clock read 392 entries and players were still flooding into the Seminole Hard Rock tournament arena. Wade was able to rebuild from his slow start, cracking the 80K mark in chips, but he was significantly behind Brent Roberts’ 111K chip stack. Baker and Minkin, however, struggled to get past their early success as they stayed around the starting chip mark.

Halfway Mark Brings over 500 Entries

By the time the halfway mark of the day was at hand – Level 5 – there were 529 entries on the tournament clock and there was no sign of a slowdown coming. The guaranteed $3 million prize pool was certainly one of the draws for many in the field, but the last chance on the East Coast for players to reach the WPT Tournament of Champions also may have had an impact. Add in the potential for players from Day 1A to re-enter on Day 1B and WPT and Seminole Hard Rock officials had to be impressed with the outpouring of players.

Defending Global Poker Index Player of the Year Alex Foxen did not get off to a good start for his stay in Florida. On a 10-6-3-7 board, Foxen and Wade would get involved in a hand that featured a pot of over 40K on the turn. A river eight saw Wade move all in for his final 90K in chips and Foxen, with only about 40K, pondered his situation for some time before making the call. Foxen would turn up his pocket Queens, but his ladies were clipped on the river by Wade’s pocket nines for the rivered straight and Foxen’s elimination.

Foxen would have plenty of company by the end of the day. Ubaid Habib, Tony Sinishtaj, Lily Kiletto, Erik Seidel, Maria Ho and Eric Baldwin would all touch the felt by the end of the day, while the tournament clock showed that 712 entries had been received and 279 players from that field would continue on to Day 2 on Sunday (or sacrifice their stack and come back on Saturday for Day 1B). When the chips were counted, it was local player Davian Santana who came out on top of the chip counts:

1.Davian Santana, 318,000
2. Frank Russo, 304,000
3. Paul Snead, 276,500
4. Javier Zarco, (tied)
5. Dan Chalifour, 257,000
6. Tyler Patterson, 248,500
7. Samuel Bernabeu, 239,000
8. Phil Hui, 234,000
9. Cliff Josephy, 228,500
10. Lisa Teebagy, 227,000

Bubbling under the Top Ten are such notables as Asher Coniff (224,500), Baker (206,500), Mukul Pahuja (196,000), Faraz Jaka (195,500), and Minkin (168,000). Day 1B will kick off at 11AM and, seeing the numbers that came out for Day 1A, there is a chance this could be one of the largest WPT events in history by entries. The $3 million guarantee is easily within sight and, if there are at least 600 entries on Saturday, the record will be cracked for the largest WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in the event’s history. Just how many will come? We’ll know the story by the time that Day 1B ends later Saturday just how big the tournament will be.

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