The 2010-11 World Series of Poker Circuit season is coming to a close. The last stop of the traveling tour arrived at Harrah's New Orleans this month, and Monday marked the start of the $1,600 Main Event. A field of 382 players turned up for one of the last shots at a gold ring, putting more than a half-million dollars in the prize pool. At the end of 16 short levels, Allie Prescott bagged the second-biggest stack with his 304,000 trailing the 371,500 chip-stack of Mario Silvestri.
As the first level ticked away, a crowd of notables began to fill the empty seats in the room. Circuit regulars such as Chris Tryba, Steve Zolotow, Ari "BodogAri" Engel, and Allen Kessler showed up, though none of them had particularly productive days. Tryba was out within the first few levels, while Kessler grinded his starting stack for a few more hours before shoving his into an opponent's with a bad end result. Engel couldn't get much going either, and Zolotow was the victim of an encounter with Dwyte Pilgrim, an unenviable fate for anyone.
When you're talking about Pilgrim, you're talking about one of the most impressive success stories the WSOP-C has generated. Since making a name for himself in the WSOP-C prelims three years ago, Pilgrim has tallied three gold rings, a WPT title, and more than $1.7 million in cash. And he's in the hunt for ring No. 4. Pilgrim arrived late to the party in New Orleans and wasted no time moving chips. Most moved away from him early on, though, and he lost a big flip with to when the board ran out . That left him with just 4,000 lonely chips, but that number soon climbed back over 25,000 when his managed a lucky triple-up against both and . The board came to lock up the big pot for Pilgrim, and it wouldn't even be the last triple-up of his day. Just before the final break of the night, Pilgrim got his money in with against Zolotow's and another player's . The board came , and Pilgrim dodged everything to move over the chip average and over the century mark. He finished the day with 159,500 chips.
Pilgrim's heir apparent to the WSOP-C throne is Kyle Cartwright. The young pro from Tennessee began his poker career in much the same way as Pilgrim, snagging two rings within two weeks at the February stop in Tunica. Two months later, Cartwright struck again, this time upping the score to six figures by winning the Main Event in St. Louis. Just like that, Cartwright had three rings and $200,000 on his tournament stat sheet. This week in New Orleans, he was looking to join the elite duo with four rings, but that dream was shattered relatively early on. It was Pilgrim who sent him to the rail during Level 11.
This Main Event also featured five of the final ten from the last WSOP-C stop in Chester. None of them survived Day 1 this time around. The runner-up of that event, Robert Scott, was one of the first players to fall on Monday. Scott made a bit of a blunder, misunderstanding his opponent's words and tabling his hand out of turn. The pot resulted in him being crippled down under ten big blinds. He was eliminated very soon thereafter, beginning the procession to the exit for the finalists from Chester. The champion of that event, Kenny "Super Tuan" Nguyen barely lasted four levels before running two pair into a set to bring his day to an early end. Right around that time, Chester's tenth-place finisher Michael Rocco went under, as well, and those two were quickly followed out the door by Huy Nguyen. The final member of the quintet, Ari Engel, was the last to fall, and a fresh set of nine faces will appear at Wednesday's final table.
If Prescott has anything to say about it, he'll be one of those at the final table two days from now. The pro found himself chipping up steadily through the middle stages of the day before a late and large pot pushed him into a big lead. A player in middle position raised to 5,000, and Prescott three-bet to 16,500 from the cutoff. Action folded around to the raiser, and he called to see a flop. Prescott bet 23,000, but the check-raise was on his opponent's mind as he made it 65,000 to go. Prescott responded with an all in shove for 146,400 and his opponent called immediately with . Prescott tabled a dominating , and he had to sweat it out as the turn brought the to add nine outs to his opponent's wish list. The river was the safe , though, and Prescott doubled over 330,000 and into a commanding chip lead that he would not relinquish until the tail end of the day.
Silvestri and Prescott will be accompanied by the likes of Michael Traylor, Keith Crowder, Matt Waxman, Mike Beasley, and Adam "Roothlus" Levy for Tuesday's Day 2. Action resumes at 1400 CDT (1900 GMT), and our Live Reporting team will be back inside the ropes to bring you the drama live and in technicolor. Join us then!
In the meantime, you should follow us on Twitter if you like juicy little morsels of poker news from the worldwide tournament circuit.