Of late, the World Poker Tour has not had much of the “world” in its moniker. They have gone from Las Vegas to Florida and…back to Las Vegas again. This time around, the WPT has headed to one of its favorite sites, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, and has seen a massive field come out for the 2022 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. After two days of Day One action, Christian Harder has stepped to the fore as the overall leader, but there is a long way to go to even get to the money, let alone the championship.

Field Nearly Sets Record

Just how large of a field are we talking? Between the two-Day Ones, a field of 2010 entries were built for the 2022 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, making the tournament the second largest event in the history of the WPT. The only tournament in the history of the WPT that was larger was this very same tournament in 2021; as one of the first post-pandemic poker tournaments, last year’s event drew out a field of 2482 entries to be the largest field in WPT history.

In fact, the Day 1A field alone was able to top the guarantee put up by the Hard Rock, $3 million, when 970 players came out. It was a fevered battle just to get out of the Day 1A field, but Harder seemed to manage the pressures quite well. He was able to amass 605,500 in chips on Friday, pushing him into the lead for the Day 1A players. Harder was able to get into that position after flopping a nut flush late in the evening to knock off two players simultaneously.  

After Daniel Bekavac, the villain of the “Midway Poker Tour” fiasco, opened the betting and found two callers, Harder pushed the action from the big blind and everyone called. A monochrome 10 9 2 flop hit the felt and, after the small blind checked, Harder would check along with Bekavac, but the fourth player in the hand had other ideas. That player moved all-in, presenting a challenge to the other three players.

The small blind decided to isolate, making it 60K to go, and Harder called that bet. Now the decision was on Bekavac (no word on whether he bought in with precious metals or not), who agonized for a bit before reluctantly folding. The small blind then called Harder’s bet to see a 7♠ come and fired in their remaining 130K in chips. Harder beat him into the pot with the call and the cards went to their backs:

Hijack: pocket sixes
Small Blind: off suit J-10
Harder: A Q

The flopped nut flush was a massive leader off the flop and, after the board did not bring a pairing card for the small blind nor another six for the hijack, those two players were drawing dead. After an irrelevant river card (the K♠, for the record), Harder was stacking up the chips and the lead.

Day 1B Even Larger

Just when you think it couldn’t get any better for the WPT and this tournament, the Day 1B action took place on Saturday. Although they were able to draw in more entries (1040) for the tournament than Day 1A, they were unable to have one of their 360 players emerge with more chips than Harder. David Moore, who came out of Day 1B as the chip leader, took a run at Harder, however.

On a flop of A♠ 10 7♠, Moore was facing off with two other players. 23K was already in the center of the table, with an additional 22K bet by Moore from the hijack and 60K from the button action. The small blind, with only 14K behind, made the call for less and Moore hammered in a re-raise over the button. The button now called off what he had left, and the cards were revealed:

Moore: pocket sevens
Button: off suit A-Q
Small Blind: K♠ J♠

Moore had flopped a set, but there were landmines galore facing him. The button was the least of his concerns as he would have had to hit a perfect runner-runner boat to top Moore. The small blind, however, had eight outs to a flush that would eclipse Moore’s set (the 10♠ was not an out as it would give Moore a full house) and another three Queen outs to the Broadway straight. None of those would come home, however, shooting Moore to 623,000 in chips; he would conclude the action on Saturday night with 600,000 in chips to seize the #2 slot on the overall leaderboard.

1. Christian Harder, 605,500
2. David Moore, 600,000*
3. Uke Dauti, 563,000*
4. David Farber, 493,000*
5. Andrew Heckman, 491,500*
6. Jason Weaver, 456,500
7. Jeffrey Miller, 435,000
8. Damaso Benalcazar, 401,500
9. Jared Koppel, 400,000
10. Aleksey Filatov, 393,000

(* – Day 1B players)

Ten more levels are set for play on Sunday beginning at noon. The possibility exists of reaching the money bubble on Sunday (the top 252 players will earn a cash), but it is going to take a LOT of gamble to get there. The champion of this tournament will walk away with a million dollars – $1,000,300, to be exact – but that will not happen until Tuesday night. Right now, the battle will rage on as the players position themselves for a charge on Day 2 of the 2022 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

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