The final major tournament of one of the circuits is fully underway at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. After two days of battle set the field, World Poker Tour Champions’ Club Member Ben Hamnett has forged his way into the lead of the WPT Five Diamon World Poker Classic with a sizeable 800,000 chip stack. He is probably guaranteed a cash from the nearly $7 million prize pool, but there are some of the 106 players who will return on Friday that will not earn anything from their trip to Vegas.

Smaller but Stronger Field than in 2019

561 entries were received at the cage on Wednesday, but the field was still not set for the WPT Five Diamond. Late registration continued in the event until the end of the first level of action on Thursday, meaning that newcomers and those who wanted to re-enter the $10,000 tournament had about 90 minutes to get in before the bell rang. Over the span of that first level on Thursday, another 155 entries were received to set the final numbers and the prize pool.

The 716 entries that players contributed to build a prize pool just short of $7 million, $6,945,200 to be exact. WPT and Bellagio officials conferred and decided that 90 of the remaining players would be the beneficiaries of a payday from the tournament and a new line on their Hendon Mob resume. The minimum payout would be $18,110 for the 90th place finisher, but the eventual champion would take home something that has become rare on any tournament circuit – a million-dollar payday ($1,241,430) and their place in poker history on the WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup.

The carnage of Thursday was not discriminating in who it took out. In fact, several top pros would fall victim to the “bust out bug” right around the expiration of the late registration/re-entry period. Jared Jaffee and Ali Imsirovic were knocked out prior to the close of re-entry (Imsirovic re-entered and was knocked out again), while Vanessa Kade did not need the extra entry by knocking out two players while holding pocket Aces. Barry Hutter, Curt Kohlberg, Blair Hinkle, Dominik Nitsche and Amnon Filippi all departed after the chance to get back into the event.

Matt Berkey in Command Most of Day 2

For much of the day, Matt Berkey had been at the helm of the leaderboard, eventually reaching more than 700K in chips late in the evening. He would falter as the evening grew late, however, allowing for Hamnett to make a run un the leaderboard to take the top slot. As the 104 players come to the tables on Friday, this is the official WPT leaderboard:

1. Ben Hamnett, 800,000
2. Johan Schumacher, 714,000
3. Taylor Black, 689,000
4. Joseph Cheong, 673,000
5. Matt Berkey, 648,000
6. Elio Fox, 621,000
7. Stephen Foutty, 604,000
8. Sam Panzica, 588,000
9. Matt Affleck, 578,000
10. Sergio Fernandez, 561,000

Those bubbling under the Top Ten with a serious shot at going deeper are Brynn Kenney (511,000), James Hundt (452,000), Dylan Linde (406,000), Mohsin Charania (391,000) and Erik Seidel (385,000). Those who have their work cut out for themselves include Cary Katz (63,000), Dylan Wilkerson (107,000), Steve Zolotow (139,000) and the 2019 Champion of this tournament, Alex Foxen (146,000).

Players will come back to the tables on Friday with the Day 3 slate composed of five 90-minute levels for the day. Blinds will start at 3000/5000 and a 5000 big blind ante, meaning that the players on the lower end of the totem pole will be pushing their edges very soon after the opening gun. The champion will be determined for this tournament on Sunday, closing the books on the WPT calendar year schedule for 2021.

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