After more than ten months of inactivity, the World Poker Tour has emerged from its cocoon and is back in action! From the appearances at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL, the players were ready for the comeback, too. The WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open completed its first Day One of action with a massive field coming out to play and one that will certainly crush the $1 million guaranteed prize pool that was offered.

705 Entries Smashes Guarantee

Before there was even a card dealt at the tables on Friday, the guarantee for the tournament had been crushed. The WPT and the Seminole Hard Rock, perhaps a little apprehensive about players not showing up for the event, put a $1 million guaranteed prize pool on the line. As soon as the “shuffle up and deal” call went out, however, 329 entrants were on the board, easily cruising by the 313 that would be necessary to break the guarantee.

The players came out to see the Seminole Hard Rock ‘Safe & Sound’ protocols firmly in place as explained by Tony Burns, the director of poker marketing at the Seminole Hard Rock, in our Poker News Daily interview last week. There was Plexiglas segmenting the players off from immediate contact, there were seven players per table (plus a dealer) and the players themselves had to wear facial coverings at the tables. And the Seminole Hard Rock ‘Safe & Sound’ Team was scurrying around to ensure that, if a player left the table, that it was immediately cleaned and sanitized for the next player to come to the felt.

The processes taken to ensure cleanliness and that players stay healthy didn’t seem to slow down the enthusiasm of anyone in the room. From that original 329 players, the numbers ratcheted up very quickly. By the end of the day, a grand total of 705 entries (each player has one re-entry that they can use each Day One of action) at $3500 a pop had been received at the cages in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Room.

And Now…Actual LIVE Poker!

To say that the tables around the Seminole Hard Rock weren’t replete with familiar faces would be an understatement. There from the start of the tournament were WPT Champions’ Club members Craig Varnell, Faraz Jaka, Byron Kaverman and Darren Elias, joined by tournament grinders Jake Schwartz and Nick Pupillo. As the day wore on, WPT Champions’ Club members Asher Coniff and Eric Afriat joined the fray, while Loni Harwood and Justin Liberto also battled through the day’s carnage.

The player to watch through the action on Friday was Art Peacock. He seemed to catch the best cards at the best times, including a battle with John Dolan. Stacked with around 50K in chips, Dolan would push about halfway through the day with a suited Big Slick, but Peacock’s red Kings were more than willing to step to the plate. The Jack high board didn’t bring any of the spades that Dolan needed, sending him to the rail (at least momentarily) and shooting Peacock up to around 130K in chips.

Peacock didn’t slow down after that clash. Late in the evening on Friday, another player would shove in against him and Peacock called. Showing a pair of black Jacks, Peacock was in good but not great shape against his opponent’s A-J off suit. The ten-high board removed any drama, however, and Peacock added to the mountain of chips in front of him that would eventually lead to him being the chip leader for Day 1A:

1. Art Peacock, 426,500
2. Matthew Stuff, 385,500
3. Fares Santana, 363,500
4. Andrew Munier, 313,500
(tie) David Miscikowski, 313,500
6. Or Kreif Haim, 300,000
7. Brendan Murphy, 299,000
8. Ivan Zufic, 286,500
9. Michael Wetcher, 279,000
10. Kenneth Begnoche, 278,500

Some of those who didn’t make it through Day 1A will have another chance on Day 1B. The same rules will apply as did in Day 1A – players have a singular re-entry, $3500 a pop – and, if history holds true and Day 1B is massively larger than its predecessor, the final entry numbers should be humongous. It’s seems that live poker was missed over the past year and the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open is demonstrating that fact!

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