The first of two-Day Ones is in the books for the World Poker Tour’s Maryland Live! Main Event and it looks like it is going to be a good one. At the end of Day 1A, a WPT Champions’ Club member, Brian Altman, powered his way through the field of 217 entries to be the only player sitting over the 300K mark in chips and, naturally, holds the chip lead.

Solid Numbers Throughout the Day

The entry numbers for Day 1A were surprisingly strong, all things considered. With a $3500 buy-in, unlimited reentries and late registration going into Day 2’s action, it might have been expected that the players wouldn’t rush the battle floor of the Maryland Live! tournament room. Once the “shuffle up and deal” call was made, there were 90 players in their seats and the numbers went up fairly quickly from there.

By the end of the first level of action, 125 entries were on the board and there were still seven more levels of play for the day. When Level 5 action started, the numbers had increased to 191 entries and, by the end of the night, 217 were on the board. The current prize pool is roughly $716,000, which is slightly behind the pace that will be necessary for the $1.5 guaranteed prize pool to be met.

It seemed as if every table around the Maryland Live! tournament floor was stocked with sharks. 2019 WPT Legends of Poker champion Aaron Van Blarcum would get off to a good start by firing pre-flop, on the flop and the turn of a K-4-2-A flop and turn and getting his opponent to go away. Others that had some early success – and would show up on the leaderboard at the end of the night – included former World Champion Joe McKeehen, four-time WPT champion Darren Elias, three-time WPT champion Anthony Zinno, Vladimir Vasilyev and the aforementioned Van Blarcum.

Altman Shows How to Use the Re-Entry

The news wasn’t all good for Altman on Saturday afternoon. After out-pipping Brock Parker on a K-4-2-3-4 board with his pocket sixes over Parker’s pocket fives, Altman would watch as his chips slowly dwindled. Only about three hours into the action, Altman would end up with the last of his chips in the center with a Q♥ 8♥ and fail to find anything that helped him on a 2-10-5-K-5 board that sent him to the rail.

But this is one of the benefits of the “re-entry” tournament that many note. Instead of heading out the door only three hours into the tournament, Altman pulled another entry out of his pocket and jumped back into the game. Now in for $7000 in entries, Altman was determined to make the best of that “second chance.”

And what a “second chance” it turned out to be. With a fresh 40K of tournament chips, Altman went on the attack and, in only four hours, made his return to the upper echelons of the leaderboard. In a hand against Scott Matte, Altman eyed an 8-4-2 board and fired out a 7K bet. Matte responded with a raise and Altman didn’t hesitate with a three-bet. It was Matte with the tough decision for his tournament life and, after some deliberation, he went with his gut and called.

It turned out that “gut” was wrong. Matte had found top pair with his 8-7, but Altman had pocket nines for the fight and the lead after the flop. A five on the turn opened some more outs for Matte to the straight, but the pairing four on the river was of no help and Matte was eliminated.

With that hand, Altman would take over the chip lead for the tournament with 185,500 and continue to ravage the field. The only thing that seemed to stop him was the call by the Maryland Live! TD to bag for the night as Altman’s monster stack ruled the field:

1. Brian Altman, 307,800
2. Gansukh Sandagsuren, 221,000
3. Carlos Requena, 218,500
4. Ryan D’Angelo, 157,800
5. Joe McKeehen, 153,600
6. Lara Eisenberg, 151,300
7. Jason Emmons, 144,000
8. Frank Funaro, 141,200
9. Darren Elias, 139,800
10. Aaron Van Blarcum, 136,900

Day 1B will begin just after noon in the Maryland Live! tournament room and it should be a large crowd. A typical closing Day 1 will vastly outpace the numbers from Day 1A, so there should be no problem meeting the $1.5 million guarantee. Whether the numbers will approach that of 2018 (554 entries) or the record for the event (561 entries) remains to be seen, but it is going to be tough for anyone to top Altman’s chip stack.

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