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2012 World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open Day 1a: Mercier Fast out of the Gate

Jason Mercier

There's no rest for the weary at the World Poker Tour. Fresh off the conclusion of the WPT Venice Grand Prix, Day 1a of the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open wrapped up at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in sunny Florida on Friday. The day began with 125 players forking over the $3,500 buy-in, and a couple of the game's top pros were hovering near the top of the leaderboard when the chips were bagged and tagged.

Uri Kadosh (275,500) and Ely Levy (218,500) topped the chip counts at the end of Day 1a, but Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier was the big story. Mercier told WPT's Jess Welman that he registered for the tournament two hours late, but he went on a big rush in the later levels to finish with 176,400, placing him third on the chip counts. Mercier's effort was good enough to earn him WPT Player of the Day honors.

Also landing among the top 10 stacks as play concluded was Shaun Deeb, who had a special guest railing him during Day 1a. With his 92-year-old grandmother in attendance, Deeb assembled a stack of 112,700 on Friday, much of which came during a hand near the end of the night.

The WPT Live Updates team discovered Deeb and another player looking at a {J-Hearts}{2-Clubs}{2-Diamonds}{Q-Spades} board with 6,000 chips already in the pot. Deeb checked from the big blind and his opponent put in a bet. Deeb check-raised to 10,000, and the other player three-bet to 22,200. Not to be outdone, Deeb four-bet to 65,000, essentially putting the other player all-in. After tanking for a while, Deeb's opponent decided to lay his hand down, and Deeb flashed the {K-Hearts} before raking in a nice pot.

Forty-two players survived Day 1a. Among the other notables advancing to Sunday's Day 2 were Anthony Ruberto (77,100), Fred Goldberg (59,500), Matt Waxman (59,400), Mohsin Charania (53,100), Matt Giannetti (46,200), Allen Kessler (31,000), and WPT Player of the Year leader Will Failla (22,500).

The bright side for the players who busted on Friday is that they'll be able to fire another bullet on Saturday. Some of the players who busted on Day 1 a were Dan O'Brien, Darryll Fish, Andy Frankenberger, Christian Harder, Jonathan Little, Matt Sout, Kathy Liebert, Andrew Lichtenberger, and WPT Raw Deal host Tony Dunst. We suspect most of those players will take advantage of the re-entry option on Day 1b.

Here's a look at the top 10 stacks from Day 1a of the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open:

World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open Top 10 Chip Counts

PlacePlayerChip Count
1Uri Kadosh275,500
2Ely Levy218,550
3Jason Mercier176,400
4Omar Sider170,600
5Nick Avera133,200
6Michael Michnik121,000
7Dave Tiffenberg112,900
8Shaun Deeb112,700
9Victor Heffesse111,900
10Mike Corbett111,300

Play will resume on Saturday at 1200 EST (1700 GMT). Stay tuned to PokerNews for daily recaps from the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Hollywood, Florida.

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*Photo courtesy of the World Poker Tour.

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