The World Poker Tour’s World Championship (WPTWC) wrapped up Day 2 at Wynn Las Vegas on Thursday and after numerous starting flights, the event turned out to be the massive tournament organizers were hoping for.
Starting flights kicked off on Dec. 8 and produced a field of 2,960 players. That number easily surpassed the $15 million guarantee, reaching a massive prize pool of $29.6 million.
Only 399 players remained as Day 3 kicked off on Friday. The ultimate winner will score a gargantuan $4.1 million payout.
Big names still remain
When the action resumed on Friday, Adrian Sorel State returned as chip leader with 2.4 million. The Romanian player seemed likely to lock up his first WPT cash, but no doubt is hoping for even more. He has $584,614 live tournament winnings as well as just under $1 million in online poker cashes.
High roller regular Adam Hendrix also sat among the chip leaders with $2.1 million. WPT Mike Sexton Champions Club member Soheb Porbandarwala also had just over 2 million chips.
New Jersey poker pro and Champions Club member Asher Conniff also returns with 1.7 million. Other notable players back in action include:
- Alex Greenblatt (1.8 million) – WPTDeepstacks winner
- Mike Del Vecchio (1.7 million) – Champions Club member
- Taylor von Kriegenbergh (1.6 million) – Champions Club member
- Joni Jouhkimainen (1.6 million) – partypoker ambassador
- Freddy Deeb (1.4 million) – Champions Club member
- Erkut Yilmaz (1.4 million) – Champions Club member, 2018-19 WPT Player of the Year
- James Carroll (1.3 million) – Champions Club member
- Arden Cho (1.3 million) – actress and poker player
- Jeremy Ausmus (1.3 million) – five-time WSOP bracelet winner
- Markus Gonsalves (1.2 million) – Champions Club member
- Pat Lyons (1.1 million) – Champions Club member
Numerous other major names also return to the field, including Daniel Negreanu with 440,000 chips. The two-time WPT champion has more than $6 million in winnings on the tour and is now closing in on his first WPT cash since 2019.
Negreanu was on the feature table on Friday, streamed live on the WPT YouTube channel.
Dialed in folks
400 players left, 370 in the money.
Don’t remember the last time I was that consistently focused on the action.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) December 16, 2022
A fall/winter ‘WSOP vibe’
So far, the December action at the Wynn has pleased players. There’s a deep schedule offering something for everyone. WPT CEO Adam Pliska told USPoker that the series has a “reunion” vibe to it.
The festival has players thinking of the World Series of Poker, but played out in December with some extras that add to the fun of the series.
“The one thing that you definitely felt in the room is that reunion effect,” he said. “And you felt that in the past, mostly at the WSOP. But you had this great reunion effect. And we’re definitely going to capitalize on it.
“I do think it’s sustainable and we have big ambitions to continue to grow this. We’re absolutely going to capitalize on that reunion effect. We love it. It was so good to see it. And this is just a great way for us to bring all of our partners together and showcase what we’re trying to do throughout the year. So I think we’ve kind of set a tentpole on the ground.”
Ken Fishman, of Tampa, Florida, was among those in the action on Friday and was pleased with how the tournament has gone
“Everybody loves it here, it’s been great,” he said. “It’s like a min-WSOP, a mini-Main Event.”
The WPT has worked to make the entire WPTWC something different beyond a traditional tournament series. The action has included plenty of streaming, live cash games with major-name players, and more.
Special meet-up games with poker legends like Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Patrik Antonius also proved popular. Recreational players could play some of the biggest names in poker for fairly low stakes.
More than 200 online poker players also earned tournament packages via ClubWPT and WPTGlobal. The series features three final tables filmed for television including the WPT Prime and ladies championships.
Prime event scores huge too
Like the main event, the Prime Championship also saw massive numbers. The event originally came with a $2 million guarantee, but saw that balloon to a $5.3 million prize pool.
The tournament attracted 5,430 entries and the winner bags $712,650. The tournament broke the WPT Prime record by more than five times, surpassing the previous mark of 1,050 entries. The final table will stream live and also be filmed for television on Dec. 19. Here’s a look at the final six players.
WPT Prime Championship
- Lara Eisenberg, 39,200,000
- Giorgii Skhulukhiia, 19,800,000
- Stephen Song, 38,400,000
- Albert Nguyen, 32,200,000
- Young Eum, 19,900,000
- Alon Messica, 13,900,000
On-air talent running deep; looking ahead
Beyond some of the pros running deep, a couple WPT broadcast hosts are also making deep runs in the series. Tony Dunst’s deep run may not be a surprise and he returned with 270,000 chips. The commentator already has a WPT title as well as two WSOP bracelets.
Tour television host/anchor Lynn Gilmartin also returned for action on Day 3. She sat on a stack of 930,000 when play resumed.
We BAGGED!!! 930k 💥 Day 3, baby!!!!! #WPTWCWYNN
— Lynn Gilmartin (@LynnGilmartin) December 16, 2022
Beyond the main event and Prime Championship, plenty of action remains. The first flight of the $1,600 Mystery Bounty got underway on Thursday and features a $2 million guarantee. The three-day $200 Ladies Championship also begins on Friday. Dec. 18 also brings the $10,500 High Roller.
* Lead image courtesy WPT