A record-breaking day at Borgata totaled a field of 1,415 in the largest WPT event ever held at the property. 177 of those players advanced to Day 3 with Alex Aqel out in front with 1.26 million. Aqel (pictured) started Day 2 near the top of the chip counts and finished with the yellow jersey heading into Wednesday’s restart in Atlantic City.
Aqel owns more than $450,000 in career tournament winnings including a win in a WSOP Circuit Main Event in February 2017.
Although he is in a prime position heading into Day 3, Aqel isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet. “It doesn’t mean anything yet. Chip leader at three tables would feel a lot better. I just made a bunch of hands. Right around the money bubble, I just made every hand imaginable.”
The chip leader is the beginning of the storylines at Borgata. More than $4.5 million is in the prize pool and the first portion is set to be distributed tomorrow when play restarts. A few notable players hover near Aqel with plenty at stake.
Chase Bianchi bagged fifth in chips at the end of Day 2 in the Season XVI WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open and finished in seventh place for his best career score on the WPT. One year later, Bianchi is second in chips with 1.23 million and took the scenic route to get there. Bianchi was eliminated by Hublot WPT Player of the Year contender Ping Liu early on Day 2 in a massive pot. In the time between then and the end of the night, Bianchi grew his single starting stack of 40,000 into 31 starting stacks.
Liu, on the other hand, bagged 837,000 and is in a good position to overtake Tony Ruberto for the POY lead. With at least a 15th place finish, Liu will leave Borgata as the points leader.
WPT Maryland runner-up Shankar Pillai bagged 766,000 and can jump into first place with at least a third-place result in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open.
The Champions Club showed well on Day 2 and Brian Altman (668,000) leads them into Day 3. Season XVI Tournament of Champions winner Matthew Waxman (627,000), Season X Borgata Poker Open winner Bobby Oboodi (559,000), Mike Linster (396,000), Olivier Busquet (380,000), Taylor Paur (237,000), Jordan Cristos (220,000), Anthony Zinno (173,000), Victor Ramdin (115,000), Daniel Strelitz (85,000), and David Paredes (71,000) are all in search of another title.
Borgata Winter Poker Open Ladies event winner Alida Veilu earned her first WPT cash and starts Day 3 with 229,000.
Of course, Phil Hellmuth (pictured) must be mentioned. The WPT Raw Deal host finished Day 2 with 519,000 and is in search of another WPT final table along with his first title. Hellmuth locked up his first-ever WPT cash at Borgata today.
Day 3 starts at 12 p.m. local time and plays for seven 90-minute levels or until three tables are left in play. $728,430 awaits the winner of the event along with a seat into the Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. Before a champion can be crowned, the final six will play in front of the WPT television cameras at HyperX Esports Arena.
Stay tuned to WPT.com for complete coverage of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. #TheCupAwaits
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive.com
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