Wrapping up the calendar year for their Season XVII schedule, the World Poker Tour has ventured to its December home, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, for the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. And, as usual, the players have responded. After two days of play and late registration going up until after the dinner break, a record number of entries has been received and Calvin Anderson leads the way.

Largest Ever $10K Event in WPT History

After 697 entries were received for the first day of play for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, there was more than a chance that the record for largest field would be broken. In 2017, the Five Diamond racked up 812 entries for this event; with only 115 more entries needed and late registration/unlimited reentry going until after the dinner break, the 2018 version was primed to crack that number on Day 2. What the 417 players who came back on Wednesday didn’t know was just what they were playing for.

Leading the way as play started was Manuel Martinez and his 252,600 in chips, but all eyes were watching the tournament board to see just where the numbers would stop. Because of the lack of playing room at the Bellagio, the alternates list grew exponentially as they tried to get everyone into the game. Only 90 minutes after Day 2 began, the field blasted past the 812-entry mark and continued to surge throughout the day.

As Level 12 began, the late registration was closed and no further rebuys were accepted, giving the Bellagio staff time to crunch the numbers. The field size finished at an astonishing 1001 entries, by far the largest $10,000 buy in tournament in the WPT’s history, building a prize pool that totaled $9,709,700. 126 players would pick up a minimum $18,584 payday, but the top numbers were the more important thing. The eventual champion of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic will walk home with $1,631,468; second place also cracked the million mark at $1,087,603, while the third-place finisher will have to settle for “just” $802,973.

Mr. Anderson Leads the Way

Martinez was cruising along nicely until he ran into Lisa Hamilton soon after the opening bell. Martinez popped the pot from the cutoff and Hamilton three bet out of the small blind. After Martinez made it 19,500, Hamilton responded by pushing for her 63K stack. Martinez called off his stack and showed Big Slick, but Hamilton responded by turning up pocket Kings. The Jack high board brought nothing new to the fray, ensuring the double for Hamilton and bringing Martinez into the pack; both will be around for action on Thursday.

Anderson, known for his online exploits as well as his $2 million-plus in live tournament earnings in his career, cruised through the day rather uneventfully. He commented to the WPT reporters that his day went “smooth” and that “either my bluffs worked or I made a hand” and got paid. He made enough hands and had enough bluffs get through to end the day as the chip leader:

1. Calvin Anderson, 789,000
2. Joe McKeehen, 784,000
3. Mike Cordell, 666,000
4. Dan Shak, 628,000
5. Farid Jattin, 570,000
6. Darren Elias, 569,000
7. Alan Schein, 554,000
8. Brian Altman, 520,000
9. Mo Arani, 520,000
10. Robert Salaburu, 472,000

There are several former Five Diamond champs still in the mix. Defending champion Ryan Tosoc (162,000), James Romero (305,000), Antonio Esfandiari (280,000), Mohsin Charania (240,000) and Joe Hachem (106,000) all will be back on Thursday, alongside other pros like Paul Klann (465,000), Mike Leah (452,000) and Dominik Nitsche (402,000). Out of the event are notables like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Maria Ho, Alex Foxen and defending WPT Player of the Year Art Papazyan.

The action continues today at noon (Pacific Time) with 180 players remaining. They will be whittled down to the money fairly quickly and the nearly $10 million prize pool for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic will begin to be carved up.

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