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World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Day 1: Baxter Leads with Mercier Not Far Behind

Jason Mercier

Day 1 of the 2011 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic Main Event took place on Friday at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, California. The $10,000 buy-in event attracted 666 runners as registration was open through the first five levels of play and created a prizepool worth $6,393,600. Leading the way into Day 2 will be Mike Baxter. The hedge fund manager and recreational high stakes player wrapped up the day with 125,400 in chips.

As expected, there were plenty of big names in the field. Antonio Esfandiari, Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Faraz Jaka and Erick Lindgren were just a few of the names that showed up. Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey and a late-arriving Phil Hellmuth also joined the mix in this star-studded field. Out of that bunch, it was Mercier whop finished with the largest stack. He was able to building his starting stack of 30,000 up to 106,625 in chips and finish in fifth place overall.

After Level 1, Mercier tweeted, “Have 72.5k already from 30k after 1 level. Lol. @lapokerclassic,” to let the Twitter world know how well he was doing. Although he didn’t give the details, Mercier did catch up with the WPT’s Kimberly Lansing after the day and he discussed how he was able to accumulate so many chips.

Mercier mentioned that he was getting three-bet a lot early on. After he opened preflop with a wired pair of sixes, an opponent three-bet him. This time Mercier made the call and the flop came down {Q-}{J-}{6-}. He checked and his opponent bet 600. Mercier made it 2,000 with a check-raise before the player came back with a reraise to 7,600. Mercier clicked it right back to 13,200 and his opponent went all in. Mercier called and was up against two aces. His set of sixes held on the turn and river and he won a big pot early.

Then, Mercier said he was fortunate to get pocket aces against David Paredes’ pocket kings for another 20,000 or so. His performance and Day 1 earned him RISE Clothing Player of the Day.

At the end of the day, 507 players survived to bag up chips and continue on their quest for the WPT title. Here’s a look at the top ten stacks moving into Saturday.

1Mike Baxter125,400
2Ronnie Ebanks121,575
3Arkadiy Stekoeshchikov111,000
4Gregory Brooks108,425
5Jason Mercier106,625
6Michael DeVita104,725
7Tom McCormick100,475
8Michael Benvenuti98,775
9Tony Gargano98,500
10Gavin Griffin96,750

The average stack sits just under 40,000 and the field is still jam packed with notables. A few others who will be returning for Day 2 are Jordan Morgan, John Racener, Ryan Daut nd Dan Heimiller. They all finished with right around and average stack. Marco Johnson is the shortest stack to make it through the day and will come back with only 1,475 chips to play with.

Day 2 begins on Saturday at noon local time. Be sure to check back with PokerNews for the recap.

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