WPT Kicks Off 2019 with Big Events on Both Coasts

WPT Kicks Off 2019 with Big Events on Both Coasts

The World Poker Tour may have started a new year in January, but it was still in the middle of its Season XVII, which began in 2018 and continues through the beginning of June 2019.

Two big tournaments were on the schedule to kick off the second half of the season, one at the Gardens Casino in Los Angeles and the other at the Borgata in Atlantic City. With both coasts covered, players flocked to the tables in great numbers.

Now that those two events are done, one might think there would be two more players in the WPT Champions Club, but no! Both of the tournaments paused when the final tables of six players each were set, and they will convene in Las Vegas in mid-March to play them out. The final table action will happen at the HyperX Esports Arena, located at the Luxor on the Las Vegas Strip, with the WPT Gardens Poker Championship on the 12th and WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open on the 13th. They will be filmed for FOX Sports television as well as streamed live on PokerGO.

For now, let’s take a look at what happened so far.

On the West Coast: WPT Gardens Poker Championship

Less than two weeks into 2019, poker players gathered at the Gardens Casino in Southern California on January 12 and 13 for the two starting days of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. It is one of the few events on the WPT schedule with a $10K buy-in, so the action was serious.

Day 1A delivered 85 entries, and there were 52 players surviving the day with Frank Stepuchin as the chip leader. Day 1B added another 126 entries to the mix, but registration remained open until the start of Day 2. That night ended with 81 players bagging chips and Ray Qartomy assuming the overall chip lead.

Upon the start of Day 2, registration closed and showed a total of 253 entries and $2,428,000 prize pool. That would give the 32 finalists a payout of at least $19,120 and the following cash for the final table players, all of whom took home sixth-place money to hold them over until the final action:

1st place:  $548,825 + $15K seat to Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions

2nd place:  $355,885

3rd place:  $259,880

4th place:  $192,465

5th place:  $144,595

6th place:  $110,225

Day 3 started with 54 players remaining and Shannon Shorr as the chip leader. The money bubble soon burst with the elimination of Raul Lozano, and payouts began with names like Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Kitty Kuo, Ankush Mandavia, Jim Collopy, and Mohsin Charania cashing out. The night ended with 19 players and Shorr still leading the pack.

Day 4’s payouts began at $25,225, and play moved forward as Marvin Rettenmaier and Garrett Greer exited the field. The last hand of the night found Stepuchin ousting Toby Lewis in seventh place for $85,270, and the former will take a substantial chip lead to the final table.

Frank Stepuchin:  4,065,000 chips

Steve Sung:  1,580,000 chips

Shannon Shorr:  1,710,000 chips

Brent Roberts:  1,385,000 chips

Ray Qartomy:  820,000 chips

Jonathan Abdellatif:  555,000 chips

On the East Coast: WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

Not long after the California stop wrapped, it was time to head to the frigid temperatures in Atlantic City for the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. The Main Event started on January 27 with a $3,500 buy-in and a $3 million guarantee.

The first of two starting days attracted 424 entries but whittled that number down to just 219 players, with Daniel Wellborn taking the lead. The second starting day brought another 780 entries into the mix, though registration had yet to close. Of that field, only 446 players survived, and Joey Couden bagged the most chips.

More than 100 new entries were recorded before the start of Day 2, which brought the final total for the tournament to 1,415 entries, crushing last year’s number of 1,312 entries. The resulting prize pool was $4,529,415, enough to pay the last 177 players standing at least $6,024 and reserve the following payouts to the final tablists:

1st place:  $728,430 + $15K seat to Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions

2nd place:  $485,611

3rd place:  $359,555

4th place:  $268,810

5th place:  $202,942

6th place:  $154,734

Day 2 ended just after the money bubble burst, which came at the expense of Chris Tryba. The last 177 players stored their chips for the night with Alex Aqel atop the leaderboard. Day 3 took players like Anthony Zinno, Taylor Paur, and Daniel Wellborn to the cashier cage early in the day, and others followed, such as Victor Ramdin, Mukul Pahuja, David Paredes, Will Givens, Cherish Andrews, Blair Hinkle, Jeremy Kottler, Alida Veliu, Phil Hellmuth, Steve Sung, Katie Stone, Jessica Dawley, Paul Volpe, and Olivier Busquet.

Day 4 started with 29 players, but the eliminations of Jonas Wexler, Chase Bianchi, and Ping Liu brought the day closer to the final table. Ultimately, Dave Farah ousted Steven Sarmiento in seventh place for $119,159, and play stopped until March 13. Each of the final six went home with $154,734, and they will meet again in Las Vegas with these chip stacks:

Dave Farah:  18,850,000 chips

Brandon Hall:  14,100,000 chips

Daniel Buzgon:  9,100,000 chips

Joseph Di Rosa Rojas:  5,800,000 chips

Ian O’Hara:  5,100,000 chips

Vinicius Lima:  3,550,000 chips


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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