The 2019 World Series of Poker may have ended less than a week ago and it may feel like it’s time for poker players to take a breather and relax, but the poker calendar waits for no one. The first World Poker Tour event of the new season – the WPT Gardens Poker Festival – is already in full swing and the weekend saw both starting flights already come and go. In the pole position heading into Day 2 is Cord Garcia with 265,700 chips.

This is not going to be the largest of World Poker Tour Main Events, as let’s be honest, many players do want to take a break after the WSOP, but 293 entries after two starting flights isn’t bad. It’s not amazing considering each flight permitted a single re-entry, which means there were fewer than 293 players participating, but again, not bad. Registration is still open for another two levels, so we will find out the final player tally and prize pool information later on Monday.

Cord Garcia (Cord is a nickname – his real name is Lance) has had a lot of success on the live tournament circuit and I would guess approximately zero percent of readers have heard of him (I’m rounding down). According to his profile at, he has nearly $2.7 million in live tournament earnings. His largest cash is was for $638,880 when he won The Colossus event at the 2015 World Series of Poker and his lone WSOP bracelet. He also has a WSOP Circuit ring and a couple Heartland Poker Tour Main Event titles.

Garcia has won a couple preliminary events on the World Poker Tour, but has never won a Tour championship. He was overflowing with confidence about his chances in this tournament before it started, though, putting out a challenge on Twitter:

Anyone want to make @wpt POY bets slide in. About to get this WPT monkey off my back. Looking for hu whoever scores higher. You gotta bet on yourself. Not letting you come up off me from your couch taking Elias.

Now that’s a quality tweet.

Of course, the first person to reply asked Garcia if he could give him a list of three player from which to pick and bet against Garcia, not bothering to follow instructions. Shaun Deeb also chimed in, asking how high the stakes would be, but Garcia said he wanted nothing to do with a competition against the “goat.”

Garcia told that he arrived late for the tournament, but after the first break, “Things went pretty smooth.”

Mostly, though, he is happy that being the chip leader has afforded him the luxury of only needing to put down one $5,000 buy-in.

Three other players finished Day 1 above the 200,000 chip mark: Straton Wilhelm (244,300), Michael Kamran (207,000), and Jeff Madsen (205,800).

Day 2 will begin at noon PDT as the 156 remaining players plus any late entrants sit down to for what they hope to be eight more one-hour levels.

2019 World Poker Tour Gardens Poker Festival Main Event – Day 1 Chip Leaders

  1. Cord Garcia – 265,700
  2. Straton Wilhelm – 244,300
  3. Michael Kamran – 207,000
  4. Jeff Madsen – 205,800
  5. Bradley Hinson – 183,900
  6. Alex Tran – 180,500
  7. Bryce Yockey – 180,300
  8. Jesse Vilchez – 179,500
  9. Ira Friedman – 163,800
  10. Tam Nguyen – 154,800

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