Brandon Meyers Bags Early Chip Lead in WPT Five Diamond at Bellagio
Day 1 of the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio drew 605 entries through five 90-minute levels, which is on pace to break last year’s record 791-strong field. As expected, the high profile event attracted many of poker’s elite, and with unlimited reentry available for three more levels on Day 2, even more big names will be joining the field.
Meet Day 1 Chip Leader Brandon Meyers
Around 550 survived the day, and out in front at this early juncture is Brandon Meyers, who bagged 152,700 chips. Despite bluffing off a good chunk of his stack early in the day, Meyers told PokerNews he found a couple good spots and then just made some big hands against players who had strong but second-best hands.
That propelled him to the chip lead, which he held until play concluded for the day. Meyers is based in Las Vegas and dropped out of UNLV to pursue poker full-time, and hasn’t looked back.
Primarily a mid-high stakes cash grinder these days, Meyers enjoys the challenge of going deep in a tournament, and sees the WPT Five Diamond event as a must-play.
“I don’t play a lot of tournaments any more, I don’t travel for tournaments. Living here especially, it’s one that I feel as a professional poker player in Vegas, you can’t really miss. It’s just too big — too big of an opportunity. It’s always a good event, the money would obviously be nice.”
Outside of poker, Meyers has gotten really into golf. He started playing a lot before the WSOP and his success there has allowed him more freedom to play more golf.
Unlike in previous summers when he was grinding a lot of WSOP events, this past summer, Meyers focused more on playing cash games and relaxing, which seemed to pay off in the tournaments he did play.
“I felt like that helped me be more fresh going into the Main Event and then, it was basically like a dream.”
Meyers said he felt he played pretty well but also was extremely lucky throughout, staying near the top of the counts until his luck ran out and he busted on Day 6. He still called it “a great experience” and his 42nd-place finish was good for his biggest tournament cash to date at $179K.
His other two six-figure scores came from another 10K buy-in at the Bellagio — the 2011 Bellagio Cup Main Event — where he took fourth for $150,311 and in the 2013 LAPC $25,000 High Roller (second for $172,915).
Combined with a plethora of other cashes — there are 49 in total — Meyers has racked up more than $1.2 million in tournament earnings. Of those, he has only two WPT cashes for just over $51,000. He is looking to improve upon that figure this week.
Meyers said he tries to come into big events like this one as fresh as possible, opting to play less leading up to it. “Just make sure I’m well-rested, focused and wanting to play. Nowadays if I don’t want to play, then I just won’t play whereas in years past, I would always just force it and play, and that caused some bad play and bad habits.”
He attributes his refined approach to the game to years of poker experience and his family, which consists of his wife and their two young boys.
“Having a family and kids kind of helps with patience and stuff like that.”
He added, “When you repeat a lot of bad habits and you see it not work out for you, it’s nice to change things, and try to do stuff that works better.”
And it seems like Meyers is finding a good balance these days, spending more time on the golf course and continuing to run up stacks in big poker events when he does play them. Coming off of a dreamlike WSOP Main Event run, this may just be Meyers’ year.
Other Notable Stacks
Among the limited number of six-figure stacks apart from Meyers belong to Gregory Back (130,400), Jonathan Kamhazi (120,000), Eric Baldwin (114,700), Ray Pulford (109,000) and Kenny Nguyen (103,500).
Some of the many WPT champions who bagged were Ravi Raghavan, WPT POY Benjamin Zamani, Olivier Busquet and Shawn Buchanan. But plenty more former champions and other top players are also still in the running, keeping the field jam-packed with poker talent.
Notably, defending champion of the event James Romero bagged 35,500 and current leader in the WPT Player of the Year race Art Papazyan is also still in, bringing 14,750 to Day 2.
Among those unfortunate to bust on Day 1 were WPT Champions Club members Zachary Smiley, Adam Weinraub, WPT champion and WSOP Main Event winner Ryan Riess, and the most recent WSOP Main Event champ, Scott Blumstein. ClubWPT King of the Club qualifier Rob Hearon also failed to survive the day.
Another WPT champion, Antonio Esfandiari, busted late in the day. However, “The Magician” still has a chance to reappear on Day 2 should he choose to do so.
Stay tuned for more daily WPT Five Diamond updates right here at PokerNews.
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