The World Poker Tour is going “old school” this weekend, harkening back to the days when tournament poker was “may the best man win” and you actually had to think about your actions! The WPT’s yearly stop at the Commerce Casino for the 2020 WPT L. A. Poker Classic has drawn out the players once again as the turnstiles spun heading into the tournament arena. After the initial day of battle Demo Kiriopoulos, who has been on a run of late, holds the chip lead as Day Two looms.

Do You Remember When?

The WPT LAPC is a throwback to the way that tournament poker USED to be played. There are no multiple Day Ones of play, there’s no “re-entry” into the tournament, you put up your $10,000 and literally let the chips fall where they may. The players seem to desire this format as, through Day One on Saturday, 461 players stepped up for battle. The one current change to tournament poker that WPT Executive Tournament Director Matt Savage has kept for the WPT LAPC is late registration, which will go on until the end of Level 11 this afternoon (approximately 3:30PM Pacific Time).

Starting with 40K in chips and facing eight, one-hour levels of play, the players didn’t want to waste a minute on the sidelines. When the call to “shuffle up and deal” was made, 227 players had already taken their seats on their personal patches of felt. This included several top professionals including Kitty Kuo, Shaun Deeb, Maria Ho, Kristen Bicknell and WPT Champions’ Club members Dylan Wilkerson, Dylan Linde and Lee Markholt.

While these players battled it out, a steady stream of players continued to flood the tournament battleground. As Level 3 of the eight planned on the day started, 362 players had stepped up with their $10K and dreams of grandeur. Defending champion David ‘ODB’ Baker was one of these who joined the fray at this time, joined by Ryan Laplante, Anton Wigg and Baker’s fellow Champions’ Club member Aaron Van Blarcum.

Joseph Cheong either wasn’t into the freezeout format or had trouble adjusting his normal game to the LAPC format. He was part of the crowd who came in after Level 3, but he only lasted two and a half ORBITS (that’s roughly 23 hands, folks) before busting out in his one and only chance. ‘Sublime’ tried to keep it light (maybe?), Tweeting to his followers:

Plenty of Carnage, Plenty of Success

Cheong wasn’t the only person to fall victim to the “one and done” format for the WPT LAPC. Julien Martini, Cord Garcia, Aaron Mermelstein, Nick Pupillo, Jean ‘Prince’ Gaspard, James Calderaro, Harrison Gimbel, Anthony Zinno, Andrew Lichtenberger, Andy Frankenberger and defending GPI Player of the Year Alex Foxen all would find the exit before the end of the Day One action. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of success out in the crowd.

Kiriopoulos, who made the final table of the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic last month in defense of his 2019 championship before finishing in fifth place, steadily climbed his way through the field. Kiriopoulos admitted to the WPT Live Updates crew that he’s “playing really well,” as represented by the 255,600 in chips that he’s accumulated through the first eight levels of Day One. Much like that event in Fallsview, however, Kiriopoulos will have some serious competition amongst the 271 players that will come back to the felt (plus any late regging stragglers):

1. Demo Kiriopoulos, 255,600
2. Jordan Cristos, 210,300
3. Levon Khachatryan, 208,100
4. Danny Wong, 202,300
5. Kazuhiko Yotsushika, 192,400
6. Matthew Leecy, 183,200
7. Dylan Linde, 178,400
8. Ryan Laplante, 176,000
9. Yen Dang, 165,800
10. Barry Hutter, 163,700

Lurking down the leaderboard are such players as Matas Cimbolas (163,000), Matt Affleck (143,700), Upeshka De Silva (139,800), and “blast from the past” Ted Forrest (135,200).

The 271 players today still don’t know what they’re playing for as late registration is open until the conclusion of Level 11. This should guarantee that the field will crack the 500-player mark and ensure that the prize pool will crack the $5 million mark (last year’s event reached 546 players). There will be an extension to the time of the levels, too; instead of the one-hour levels of Day One, Day Two will feature five, 90-minute levels before play concludes for the night. By this point, we should have all the info on the prize pool, the number of players paid and what the eventual champion will walk away with, expected to be a million-dollar payday.

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