Day 1a of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas was a rousing success with 615 entrants, which included many of poker’s biggest stars such as Justin Bonomo, who bagged a monster stack.
The $10,400 buy in tournament has a guaranteed $15 million prize pool, a live poker record. But after the first session, it appears you can go ahead and toss that guarantee in the trash because the pot will likely be much larger.
There are still two more Day 1 starting flights — Tuesday and Wednesday. Players can register once per session, and you can expect most of the top pros who busted Day 1a and 1b to continue firing until they either bag a stack or are out of opportunities. As is the case with most rebuy tournaments, the last session is expected to be the biggest.
Mix of Poker Royalty, Grinders, and Recreational Players
The final event of the 20th World Poker Tour season was quite enticing to a wide-range of poker players. Many players who don’t typically enter such an expensive tournament made it in through various ways such as satellites at Wynn or winning qualifiers on ClubWPT. Or, those who won social media contests, such as PokerNews live reporter Liam Gannon, who won a free seat and competed on Day 1a. Unfortunately, for the 23-year-old from Chicago, his pocket queens ran into the pocket kings of Dan Shak a couple hours before the session concluded and he was out.
But the field was also packed with more familiar faces than we can mention. Top pros such as Alex Foxen, Daniel Negreanu, Chance Kornuth, Brian Rast, and Bonomo showed up ready to play. Vloggers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen, both WPT ambassadors, were in the mix. Talented female poker players Vanessa Kade, Kristen Bicknell, and Farah Galfond were among the 615 entries.
The regular World Poker Tour crushers Darren Elias, Anthony Zinno, and Brian Altman began their quest for another WPT title. Old-school greats like Erik Seidel, Freddy Deeb, and Greg Mueller were in the field. Former world champion Joe Hachem traveled across the world to chase poker glory again. And WPT broadcasters Lynn Gilmartin and Tony Dunst were also part of the huge field.
Bonomo First to 1 Million Chips
When Day 1a wrapped at around 11:45 p.m. PT Monday night there were 270 players remaining, and only one of them had cracked the 1 million chip mark. That individual is Justin Bonomo, the all-time live tournament cashes leader with over $58 million, according to Hendon Mob.
The bright pink-haired future Poker Hall of Famer bagged 1,011,000 chips, which equates to 202 bigs when the blinds open at 2,500/5,000 on Day 2 (Thursday). Joey Couden (935,000) and Steven McKuin aren’t far back. After those players, there’s a bit of a drop off with Roberto Romanello (725,000) in fourth place and Dominic Brazier in fifth place (714,000).
Quite a few big name pros survived and advanced, some with sizable stacks. That includes Adam Hendrix (658,000), Foxen (371,000), Negreanu (252,000), Kornuth (237,000), and Neeme (160,000).
WPT World Championship Day 1a Top Chip Counts
Lara Eisenberg Leads WPT Prime Championship
Also at the same venue, the $1,100 buy in WPT Prime Championship has achieved its final table of six with World Series of Poker bracelet winner Lara Eisenberg leading the way. The tournament began Dec. 8 and more than doubled the lofty $2 million guarantee when 5,430 entrants took a shot at life-changing money.
Play will pause for a week and then the final six will return to action Dec. 19, and the winner will take home $712,650. Each remaining player is guaranteed a minimum payout of $153,000.
WPT Prime Championship Final Table Chip Counts
*Images courtesy of WPT.