WPT Choctaw on Pace to Smash $2 Million Guarantee
The first of two Day 1 starting flights took place Friday in the $3,800 buy-in World Poker Tour at Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma, and 336 players have already entered, putting the tournament well on pace to crush the $2 million guarantee.
Day 1b will begin at noon CT on Saturday, and then the remaining players will all come back Sunday for the second of four days. Come Monday, we'll have a final table of six players determined, all of whom will take a break until May 26 and then travel to Las Vegas, more specifically the HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor, to play it down to a winner.
Bringing Out the Best
The first session of the WPT Choctaw Main Tour event attracted some of the game's best players to Southern Oklahoma. Among those who competed in the first session included Alex Foxen, Chance Kornuth, Brian Altman, and Andrew Lichtenberger.
Foxen late registered and then quickly spun up his 50,000-chip starting stack to over 150,000 long before the dinner break. Kornuth, DJ Alexander, Anthony Zinno, and Bryan Piccioli were among those who ran out of chips before the day wrapped.
Zinno, holding , lost a bad beat to a freerolling Altman, who had in the hole on a flop of . With both players all in and over 200,000 in the pot, the board ran out and then to give Altman a winning flush and send his fellow three-time WPT champion home for the day. He can register again on Saturday if he'd like.
Top 10 Chip Counts End of Day 1a
At the end of the first starting flight, the pot has $1,176,000 in it with one session remaining before registration concludes. The tournament is on pace for over $2.3 million, and it's likely Day 1b will surpass Day 1a in terms of entrants. So much for the cryptocurrency crash keeping poker players away from major tournaments.
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Foxen Coolered by Aces
Foxen steadily built his stack throughout the day and was at one point right up near or at the top of the leaderboard. In the final few hands of the night, the two-time GPI Player of the Year ran into a crushing cooler against Ray Qartomy when he moved all-in preflop with but found out he was up against . Pocket rockets held up and Qartomy, with over 530,000 chips, putting him into the lead.
Qartomy has reached four WPT final tables but still has yet to win his first title. He is at the very least in line to score his first Main Tour cash at Choctaw.
Despite the late cooler, Foxen's still in a solid position heading into Day 2. He finished the session with 173,000 chips and was one of 108 players to survive and advance. The newly married high-stakes superstar's wife, Kristen Foxen, bagged and tagged 114,000 chips.
Allen Kessler was also among those who bagged an impressive stack. He wrapped up the 12-hour session with 155,500 chips when everyone left the facility at around midnight local time.
On Day 1b, the field will play the same 10 levels as Day 1a, and then all returning players will come back on Sunday for 1,500/2,500 blinds with a 2,500 big blind ante.
Other notables we haven't yet mentioned who are moving on include David Pham (247,000), reigning WPT Player of the Year Jacob Ferro (218,500), James Mackey (102,000), Craig Varnell (102,000), Upeshka De Silva (80,000), and Jake Schwartz (64,000).
*Images courtesy of WPT/Hayley Hochstetler