The World Poker Tour is back in action again, this time stepping back into the familiar stomping grounds of Las Vegas. The Venetian is playing host to the WPT Venetian for the next few days, marking the first major tournament schedule to resume under the COVID regulations in the city. The WPT is expecting a big crowd for this event and they have adjusted some of the terms of the event that were in effect last year, which should not slow down anyone from playing.
Kick Up the Buy-In…
When it was first announced, the WPT Venetian was set for a $3500 buy-in with unlimited reentries until the start of Level 9. The Venetian decided to change the entry fee for the tournament, however (the WPT has no call over the structures of any event on its schedule, including the buy-in), making it a $5000 buy-in event while keeping the unlimited re-entry intact. They also set a $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool, which should easily be crushed between the two-Day Ones.
On Friday, it became quickly evident that players, despite the mandated face masks and plexiglass separating the competitors, wanted to get on the felt. 123 players were on the tables when the call to action was heard and this number ratcheted up rapidly. Just before the dinner break, 327 entries were in the books, thrashing the $1.5 million guarantee and demonstrating that the WPT Venetian was going to be one for the record books.
Late registration/reentry ended with the start of Level 9 and the numbers were astounding. 378 entries were on the board, but perhaps most surprising was that there were still 176 players in their seats by Level 9. Over the final two levels of the night, however, the players began to drop by the wayside.
Stacked Leaderboard from Day 1A
Either because they could come back on Day 1B and try to run up another stack or they wanted to try to run up the one they had and failed, there were some very notable names sitting on the sidelines by the end of Friday night. Garrett Greer hit the rail late in the evening holding pocket nines, the victim of a race against Scott Stewart’s suited A♠ Q♠ when the Q♣ hit on the flop. Others who failed to reach the end of the night included PokerGO’s boss, Cary Katz and another fellow “High Roller” regular, Dan Shak.
The upper echelons of the leaderboard are replete with top professionals amongst the 79 players who will be happy with what they bagged (at least the Top Ten will): Dustin Dirksen will be the only player over the 500K mark on the Day 1A leaderboard, but there are plenty of challenges awaiting him, even without the Day 1B field added:
1. Dustin Dirksen, 566,000
2. Joseph Cheong, 390,500
3. James Carroll, 386,500
4. Dave Alfa, 382,500
5. Zhen Cai, 341,000
6. Jarod Ludemann, 335,000
7. Scott Stewart, 334,000
8. Shannon Shorr, 305,500
9. Nick Schulman, 280,000
10. Adam Hendrix, 277,000
Day 1B will go off at 11AM at The Venetian in Las Vegas with the same plan on Saturday – 11 levels of action, $5000 entry fee with unlimited rebuys. If the Day 1A crowd is any indicator, they might challenge 500 players on Saturday for the last shot at the crown, which would completely destroy the $1.5 million guarantee. With only 522 entries necessary to achieve 900 entries and an over $4 million prize pool, the only question other than who will be the champion of the WPT Venetian will be how high the prize pool will go.