The World Poker Tour continues forward into the “brave new world” of post-COVID tournament poker, and it seems the rest of the poker community is ready to come along. The sheer number of players ended up crushing the guarantee at the WPT Venetian in Las Vegas before the dinner break on Friday night. On Saturday, it was simply a question of how high the prize pool would go.

Nearly 1000 Entry Field

378 entries came to the felt Day 1A and, as per usual on multi-Day One events, the final day turned out to be monstrous. From the start this was evident as 272 were on the tournament clock, besting the 123 that were seated for action on Friday. These numbers kept climbing as the action continued Saturday.

By the time that dinner rolled around, 448 entries were in the books for Day 1B, and they did not stop coming through the doors. When late registration/re-entry ended after Level 9, 559 entries were totaled to make for a 937-entry field. The resulting prize pool was nearly triple the guaranteed prize pool at the start of the tournament.

The total prize pool ended up at $4,333,625, a stunning total especially after the year-long slumber of tournament poker. 118 players will eventually end up with a piece of that pie and a new entry on their Hendon Mob resume, but the final table will be where the real money is at. The entirety of the six-handed final table will earn a six-figure payday, with the eventual champion walking off with their name on the WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup and $752,880 in their bank account.

Danny Wong Takes Day 1B Lead, But It Isn’t Enough

With so many players in the arena (not to mention unlimited reentries), the chips were certainly flying throughout The Venetian. WPT Champions’ Club member Tony Sinishtaj took big chunks of chips off two players without a showdown as others around the room jockeyed for position. In another clash, Quorban Mirza saw his Q-J miraculously turn into two pair by the river to eliminate Jesse Lonis and his pocket Kings to shoot into the momentary lead.

Danny Wong never got on the radar of anyone in the tournament room, but he would prove to be the one people should have been watching. He gradually increased his stack through the day, instead of making flashy all-in plays that drew the attention of those around the felt. It proved to be the best course of action as he would end up the day with the chip lead as the only player over 500K in chips.

1. Danny Wong, 520,000
2. Jeff Hong, 478,500
3. Don Nguyen, 432,000
4. Ken Einiger, 391,000
5. Jose Wong, 387,000
6. Ricky Nguyen, 381,500
7. George Wolff, 378,000
8. Jack Hardcastle, 359,000
9. Alex Keating, 344,000
10. Antonios Roungeris, 338,500

Despite his best efforts, Wong will not be the overall chip leader heading to Day 2 on Sunday. That is still Dustin Dirksen, who will head our highly unofficial Day 2 leaderboard:

1. Dustin Dirksen, 566,000*
2. Danny Wong, 520,000
3. Jeff Hong, 478,500
4. Don Nguyen, 432,000
5. Ken Einiger, 391,000
6. Joseph Cheong, 390,500*
7. Jose Wong, 387,000
8. James Carroll, 386,500*
9. Dave Alfa, 382,000*
10. Ricky Nguyen, 381,500

(* – Day 1A Players)

There will be several players who will not be amongst the survivors after busting out on Day 1B. Jeremy Kottler, Jean ‘Prince’ Gaspard, Dylan Wilkerson (coolered by the pocket Queens of Chad Holloway when he held pocket Jacks), and Asher Conniff found their way to the rails late on Saturday night. But there will be plenty of competition left over the next few days.  

224 players remain from the 937-entry field and they will return on Sunday for the Day Two festivities. The first feat to achieve will be popping the money bubble at 118 players, which will earn the min-cash of $8365 for the first departures. The final table of the tournament is to be played on Tuesday, currently sans live streaming or any television taping.

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