Russia’s Andrey Zaichenko leads the 2019 World Poker Tour (WPT) L.A. Poker Classic Main Event with 949,500 chips as the tournament heads into its third day on Monday. Though it will never garner the four-figure crowds of some of the east coast WPT events because of the nature of its $10,000 freezeout structure, it is one of the most popular events in North America, sitting in one of the hotbeds of poker that is not named Las Vegas or Atlantic City. The final entry tally for the event is 546 players (we can say “players” and not “entries” for once, since there are no re-entries in this one), making it the largest field for the tournament in several years.

For his part, Zaichenko told WPT.com that he simply had a great day, playing his strong hands straight-up and making the most of good situations.

“Every big pot, I won,” he said. “I didn’t bluff at all. I played good, I wasn’t loose. Had so many straights and flushes, and every time, they pay me.”

For a guy whose name would not ring a bell with casual poker fans, Zaichenko certainly has an impressive live tournament resume. He has $3,257,529 in live cashes, according to TheHendonMob.com, with his best score coming in late 2014, when he won the high roller event at the European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague stop, good for €487,190 ($606,924). He is also the proud owner of a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, earned in 2016 in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better event.

There are just 108 players remaining from the field of 546 and the top ten is quite spread out. David Gonzalez, in second place, is somewhat close to Zaichenko, holding 860,500, but then there is a steep drop-off to the next two players – Brian Yoon and Ryan Hughes – who have 646,500 and 600,500 chips, respectively. Taylor Paur is in fifth place with more than 500,000 chips, but after him, nobody has even broken the 400,000 chip mark. Zaichenko has nearly three times the number of chips as the tenth place player.

A total of 69 players will make the money, so it will still be a while until players can breathe a sigh of relief. As is now the practice on the World Poker Tour, the Action Clock – a 30-second shot clock – will be put into effect when the tournament is one table away from the money so that players cannot wait out their competition purely by stalling.

The top prize is $1 million (guaranteed before the tourney) plus a $15,000 entry into the season-ending Tournament of Champions. A min-cash is $17,230, so the smallest return on investment isn’t too bad at all.

The L.A. Poker Classic is one of the tournaments on the tour that whose final table will be contested on March 11th the Luxor’s HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas.

2019 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1. Andrey Zaichenko – 949,500
2. David Gonzalez – 860,500
3. Brian Yoon – 646,500
4. Ryan Hughes – 600,500
5. Taylor Paur – 523,000
6. Oddie Dardon – 391,000
7. Darren Elias – 385,000
8. Brock Wilson – 368,000
9. Ajay Gnanasambanthan – 367,500
10. Paul Kuzmich – 344,000

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