Two massive days of poker at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, have created what looks to be an outstanding tournament for the World Poker Tour. Although it is only in its second year of existence, the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open smashed its inaugural year record, bringing in over 900 entries. After the smoke cleared from two Day Ones, it is Lithuania’s Audrius Stakelis sitting with the overall lead.

Day 1A Sets Stage for Massive Tournament

Friday saw the tournament arena at the Seminole Hard Rock flooded with poker players who were ready for action. At the start of Level 2, there were already 172 entries on the tournament board and the numbers only ratcheted up from that point. Along the way, some of the more notable names from poker took their shots at winning this title.

Julien Martini would take more than one shot at building a stack on Friday, losing his first 40K in chips when his 8♠ 6♠ failed to catch up with his opponent’s pocket treys. He would fire a second bullet, however, and run that up to 205,000 by the end of the night. Several of the WPT Champions’ Club members, including hometown favorite James Calderaro, Jonathan Jaffe, Aaron Van Blarcum, James Mackey, Faraz Jaka and Anthony Zinno would join Martini in building up enough of a stack to come back for Day 2 on Sunday.

By the end of the action on Friday night, 447 entries had been received and 176 players remained from that carnage. Leading the way was Jason Wandling, who seems to enjoy playing on the Hollywood grounds; earlier this year, he cashed in two tournaments at the Seminole Hard Rock and is looking to add a third WPT cash to his resume.

1. Jason Wandling, 405,500
2. James Calderaro, 321,500
3. Nathan Watson, 288,000
4. Rafael Bertani, 245,500
5. Fabian Gumz, 241,000
6. Florian Ribouchon, 237,500
7. Marcus El-Huaick, 236,000
8. Jackob Datashvili, 233,000
9. Hiroaki Harada, 224,000
10. Jonathan Jaffe, 220,500

Day 1B Completes the Deal

If Day 1A was outstanding in the response from the players, Day 1B was phenomenal. By the start of Level 2, Day 1B was keeping pace with its predecessor by racking up 169 entries. Instead of matching the pace of Day 1A, however, it ramped up massively during Day 1B, ensuring that not only the guarantee would be met (roughly 625 players needed to be hit for the $2 million guarantee to be covered) but also putting possibilities of hitting the $3 million level for the prize pool into action.

Many in the tournament arena were watching the actions of the ambassador for Zynga Poker, Hugh Grant, and how he would fare in the tournament. Grant would give up some chips on a 3-7-6-8-8, three-spade board when he was raised on the river by Scott Eskenazi. Down to just over 16K in chips at the time, Grant would bide his time until he actually had something for the battle. Unfortunately, the fates would have their say.

After Landon Tice opened the action, Grant three-bet him and Tice called. A J-7-10 flop hit the felt and, after a check from Tice, Grant fired a continuation bet. This time around, Tice came over him with a check-raise and Grant moved all in. He couldn’t have been happy with the immediate call from Tice, who turned up pocket Jacks for the flopped set against Grant’s pocket Aces. His tournament life on the line, Grant saw a four and a five finish off the board as he was eliminated from the event.

As the final level of the Day 1B action began, it looked like Wandling’s stack from Day 1A would reign supreme for the overall lead. Making an under the radar run was Stakelis, however, who was able to amass a 408,000-chip stack to eke out the lead over Wandling as the play enters Day 2 on Sunday.

1. Audrius Stakelis, 408,000
2. Howard Mash, 331,500
3. Wagner Wysotchanski, 329,000
4. Carlos Guerrero, 279,500
5. Nitis Udornpim, 273,500
6. Nicholas Tanner, 269,000
7. Greg Levine, 264,500
8. Pavlin Karakikov, 253,000
9. Ronit Chamani, 252,000
10. Kwynn Richards, 242,000

Day 2 Ready for Action with 387 Players

Overall, 988 entries were gathered for the 2019 version of this tournament, besting its inaugural year by 90. 124 players will earn a piece of the $3,161,600 prize pool, with a min-cash earning $5985. All eyes are up top for the $545,070 first place prize, however, with these players in the overall Top Ten having an inside track to the money.

1. Audrius Stakelis, 408,000
2. Jason Wandling, 405,500
3. Howard Mash, 331,500
4. Wagner Wysotchanski, 329,000
5. James Calderaro, 321,500
6. Nathan Watson, 288,000
7. Carlos Guerrero, 279,500
8. Nitis Udornpim, 273,500
9. Nicholas Tanner, 269,000
10. Greg Levine, 264,500

Cards will hit the air at noon for Day 2, with another ten levels of action set. It is possible that the field will hit the money on Sunday, but it will take a lot of work – or a lot of gamble from the players – for that goal to be reached. Wednesday is Championship Day for the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, when the next victor on the WPT Season XVIII will be crowned.

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