When a man is in form, he is in form! What else can you say about Roland de Wolfe, the UK's pre-eminent poker player at this time? Fresh from his runners-up finish at the Irish Open, De Wolfe is leading the world's best in Las Vegas.
The World Poker Tour $25,000 Buy-in Championship at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas has attracted all of the top players the US has to offer, and plenty from abroad too. So, as the buy-in ensures that only the very good or very wealthy get a seat, with an assortment of online qualifiers thrown into the mix, the leaderboard inevitably has a feel of quality about it.
306 players started Day 1A and 333 Day 1B. Hence this set yet another record for entrants despite the concerns that numbers might be lower because of the effects of the internet funding ban introduced last year by the US Government. The prize pool is therefore a gigantic $15.5M and the winner will be a useful $4M better off at the end of this event.
Amongst the starters lighting up the stage on Day 1B alone were Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Joe Hachem, Erik Seidel, Johnny Chan, Chip Reese, Kathy Liebert, Mike Matusow, Carlos Mortensen, Patrik Antonius, and J.C. Tran. Not forgetting Roland de Wolfe of course!
They certainly don't forget him here. Roland picked up over $1,000,000 finishing third from over 600 last year in this very event. Having previously grabbed a WPT title and subsequently going on to win the EPT in Dublin last October, no-one is prepared to put too much money on a quick exit this time around.
After the two long opening days of this WPT marathon, there were still 479 players remaining from the starting 639. This is the result of the huge amount of room the WPT allows players, with generous starting stacks and long blind structures.
Day 2 saw more action as the blinds started to mean something to smaller stacks. Inevitably, several would take their chances while the large stacks would be happy to call them hoping to eliminate another player.
Early eliminations on Day 2 included Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott, Padraig Parkinson and Gus Hansen. Later on in the day, three WSOP Champions bit the dust. Johnny Chan, of 10 Bracelets fame, Scotty Nguyen and Joe Hachem failed to make the grade this time.
Other WSOP champions looking good at this stage include Phil Hellmuth, another 10 Bracelets man, and last year's controversial winner Jamie Gold.
For the UK players, there are some strong showings, not least from the Hendon Mobsters. Both Ram Vaswani and Barny Boatman have worked themselves into handy positions for the next push in the Bellagio's Fontana Room. The closing chipcounts for the top twenty players include some giants of the game and promises fireworks for Day 3 later today. Here is the list:
1. Roland de Wolfe (UK) – 505,000
2. Patrik Antonius (Finland) – 475,000
3. Steve Wong – 473,000
4. Phil Hellmuth – 466,000
5. James Lee – 459,000
6. Sammy Farha – 398,000
7. Sorel Mizzi – (390,000)
8. Lee Markholt – 370,000
9. Stan Fulton – 369,000
10. Anna Wroblewski – 356,000
11. Kevin O'Connell – 350,000
12. Paul Wasicka – 345,000
13. Ram Vaswani (UK – Hendon Mob) – 305,000
14. Marcello Del Grosso – 290,000
15. Tim Phan – 285,000
16. Amir Vahedi – 270,000
17. Isaac Haxton – 260,000
18. Kirk Morrison – 255,000
19. Eric Hershler – 253,000
20. Shawn Buchanan – 249,000
In 21st is the Hendon Mob's Barny Boatman on 245,000!
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