While it may not have been as big as the Season XVIII finale in Hollywood, FL, a couple of months back, the inaugural stop by the World Poker Tour for the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Main Event has been memorable. The $2 million guarantee was smashed soon after the start of Day 1B play, eventually winding up just short of $3.5 million. Once the dust settled, Clayton Jiang emerged as one of the main contenders with his 542,000-chip stack.

Guarantee Nearly Cracked from Day 1A Field

The Tampa throng was ready to play some poker on Friday when the cards hit the air. With a $2 million guarantee for the tournament, plus unlimited $3500 re-entry into the event, it was possible that the guarantee could be met by the end of the day’s action. The tournament field would come extremely close to doing just that.

548 entries were eventually racked up by the close of late registration at Level 9, coming up just $500,000 short of eclipsing the guarantee. Some of those who would put their money up included former WPT champions such as defending WPT Season XVIII Player of the Year Brian Altman, Harrison Gimbel, Matt Waxman, Eric Afriat, Bela Patur, and Sam Panzica. They would all work their way through the Day 1A carnage, but such players as Blair Hinkle, James Carroll, and Jim Collopy would not make it through to find a bag.

Once the smoke had cleared, Jiang had emerged as the only player over 500K in chips for the Day 1A play. Only 124 players would come out of the 548 entries that had been received, but they could choose to either improve their positions in Day 1B or take their success in surviving Day 1A forward to Day 2.

1. Clayton Jiang, 542,000
2. Matthew Zazaian, 468,000
3. Rafael Reis, 465,000
4. Kevin Andriamahefa, 457,500
5. Sean Legendre, 397,000

Day 1B Tops Previous Action, Smashes Guarantee

With the bar set high by Day 1A – and the desperation of only having one more day to earn a bag for Day 2 in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Main Event – the combatants of Day 1B came out in droves. The 275 early risers (play started at 11AM on Saturday) who were in the books by the end of Level 1 came out to drive the tournament over the guarantee, but the numbers would climb even higher. By the end of late registration, a massive 617 entries would be received at the cage.

The final numbers brought the official field size to 1165 entries and made the prize pool $3.728,00. Of that sizeable pool, only 146 players will get to take a piece of it home, with the min-cash in the tournament a $6175 payday. The WPT final table of six players will all be ensured of a six-figure payday, with the eventual champion walking off with their name on the WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup and a $613,225 bankroll boost. The larger field did not bring a leader that would capture the overall lead, however. By the end of the action on Day 1B, Peter Vitantonio passed the 500K mark in chips, but he was not able to beat out Jiang for the overall lead:

1. Peter Vitantonio, 513,000
2. Christian Harder, 452,500
3. Orson Young, 413,000
4. Olamide Otti, 404,500
5. Wagner Wysotchanski, 402,000

As Day 2 gets ready to rumble, this is the way the overall leaderboard shapes up, with 284 players remaining out of the original 1165 entry field:

1. Clayton Jiang, 542,000
2. Peter Vitantonio, 513,000
3. Matthew Zazaian, 468,000
4. Rafael Reis, 465,000
5. Kevin Andriamahefa, 457,500
6. Christian Harder, 452,500
7. Orson Young, 413,000
8. Olamide Otti, 404,500
9. Wagner Wysotchanski, 402,000
10. Sean Legendre, 397,000

The players are getting a bit more time to prepare on Father’s Day, with action kicking off at noon instead of 11AM. The first trial will be working down to the money, which should come sometime Sunday afternoon, with the champion set to be determined on Tuesday for the inaugural WPT Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.

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