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World Poker Tour Jacksonville BestBet Open Day 1a: Darren Elias Claims Early Lead

Darren Elias

On Friday, the World Poker Tour made the short trek to North Florida for the debut of the televised WPT Jacksonville BestBet Open. The tour wrapped up at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, earlier this week, allowing players a chance to play a pair of WPT events without traveling across the country.

This is the first major tournament held in the brand new BestBet Jacksonville complex and is open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Any player who busts on Day 1a will have the option of re-entering on Day 1b, a format that has become common around the World Poker Tour stops in recent seasons.

Day 1 began with 125 players putting up the $5,000 buy-in. Among the 62 players who survived the nine hour-long levels of play were former WPT champs Will Failla, James Dempsey, Jonathan Little and Taylor von Kriegenbergh, as well as Tony Dunst, Mike Sexton, and current WPT Player of the Year leader Joe Serock. They'll all be chasing chip leader Darren Elias when play resumes on Day 2.

Florida native Daryll Fish had an action-packed day at the tables and finished among the frontrunners when the day came to a close. According to the WPT Live Updates Team, Fish and Jason Koon were seated together all day and had a prop bet on whether Koon could build his stack from 8,000 to 60,000 by the end of the day. Fish secured the $100 win (he gave Koon 5-to-1 odds) all by himself when he sent Koon packing in the final level.

After Fish doubled up with pocket jacks against Koon's {J-Hearts}{9-Hearts}, Koon moved his remaining short stack in preflop and Fish and Fred Goldberg called. The two players checked down the {K-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{9-Spades}{8-Hearts}{3-Hearts} board and Fish rolled over {Q-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} for a pair of eights for the win. Koon mucked his hand and hit the rail, losing his prop bet in the process.

Joining Koon on the rail on Day 1a were Hoyt Corkins, Keith Ferrera, Shannon Shorr, Matt Waxman, Matt Marafioti, Phil Collins, and WPT commentator Vince Van Patten. This is just the second WPT event Van Patten has played in his 10 years with the tour, but his tournament ended in Level 5 when he ran into an opponent's pocket aces. Van Patten told WPT reporter Jess Welman that he doesn't plan on firing another bullet on Day 1b:

Here's a look at the chip leaders after Day 1a of the WPT Jacksonville bestbet Open:

1Darren Elias213,600
2David Paredes170,300
3Darryll Fish140,800
4Robert Gorodetsky139,600
5Will Failla132,600

Day 1b kicks off Saturday at 1200 EDT (1700 BST). The aforementioned players who busted on Friday can pony up another $5,000 and give it another whirl on Saturday. Stay tuned to for daily updates from the World Poker Tour.

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