The World Poker Tour’s visit to Oklahoma continued through Sunday as the money bubble popped in their $3500 Main Event. After the Day 1B players were counted, the $2 million guaranteed prize pool was topped, by a healthy margin, and the money started flowing. After Day Two, a former champion of this event, James Mackey, will look to claim a second title as the chip leader of the tournament.

Guarantee Met and Exceeded

The only question on Day 1B on Saturday was whether the $2 million guaranteed prize pool would be topped. 293 entries were received for Day 1A on Friday, contributing more than half that prize pool. It was up to the runners on Saturday to make up the difference, and they did so easily.

After another eight levels of action on Day 1B, the final numbers were announced. The final count of 603 entries was logged into the books, with 310 of those coming from the Day 1B field. Put together with the 293 from Day 1A, the 603 entries built a $2,110,500 prize pool, of which the final 76 players would partake, with the eventual champion clipping off $361,600 and a seat at the 2024 WPT World Championship this December in Las Vegas.

Two more levels were left for the night after learning the prize pool. Eric Afriat was the player who took the most advantage of the late-night play, surging to the top of the standings after knocking out Blair Hinkle when he flopped a set of nines and rivered a boat, nines over sixes, against Hinkle’s pocket Kings. That hand contributed to Afriat’s massive stack, which dwarfed the remainder of the Day 1B field:

1. Eric Afriat, 816,500
2. Ray Quartomy, 393,500
3. Brian Green, 355,000
4. Tomas Teran, 327,000
5. Kharlin Sued, 300,000

Business to Conduct on a Sunday

Although Afriat was the overwhelming leader coming into the Day Two action on Sunday (he even topped the stacks of Curt Kohlberg [505K], Brian Battistone [482K], and Kyle Arora [436K] from Day 1A), the 190 players left in the running still had business to conduct. With only 76 players earning a payday, that meant that more than half the field would depart the Choctaw Casino Resort with nothing to show for their efforts. That thought was firmly implanted into the brains of the runners as Day Two commenced on Sunday.

The defending champion of this event, Jared Jaffee, was clipped in the early moments of Day Two play. Coming into the day as one of the short stacks, Jaffee committed his final 40K or so in chips to the center with pocket tens, only to find opposition in two players. One of those players was Giuseppe Pantaleo, who coolered Jaffee with pocket Kings, while the other entry in the race had a very live A-Q for the action. Pantaleo dodged all the potential traps in the road, with his Kings surviving the five-card board and sending Jaffee to the rail.

Jaffee was not the only notable pro to depart the Oklahoma battleground empty-handed. Steve Buckner, Ren Lin, and Jesse Lonis were eliminated before the popping of the money bubble. That would come just before the players went on the dinner break when Austin Lewis walked his Big Slick into the pocket Kings of Vladyslav Shovkovyi and no Ace came to save the day.

Ryan Van Sanford, the 2013 champion of the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble, headed the pack after din-din, but Afriat, Kohlberg, Scott Ball, and David ‘Chino’ Rheem were lurking in the Top Ten. Afriat, with his all-out playing style, rocketed into the lead after knocking out Preston Duron, but Rheem would depart in 37th place after clashing with Mackey in a hand that gave Mackey the overall lead.

After pushing all-in after a 10-9-2 flop, Rheem looked to be in decent shape (open-ended straight draw, live cards) with his 8-7 against the leading A-Q for Mackey. Unfortunately for ‘Chino,’ the turn and river – a 5♠ and a 9 – did not deliver what he was looking for. Rheem would head to the cage for his $13,300 payout for his finish while Mackey stacked up 2.67 million in chips.

Mackey will lead the 35 remaining horses to the line on Monday, with the plans to play down to the final six-handed WPT final table that will be contested later this month in Las Vegas as a part of their “Weekend of Champions:”

1. James Mackey, 2.635 million
2. James Carroll, 2.475 million
3. Vladyslav Shovkovyi, 2.18 million
4. Harrison Ashdown, 1.6 million
5. Sebastien Aube, 1.55 million
6. Adam Hendrix, 1.25 million
7. Ryan Van Sanford, 1.185 million
8. Danny Marx, 1.125 million
9. Anthony Zinno, 1.09 million
10. Mike Liang, 1.055 million

(Photo courtesy of WPT)

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