The $3 million guaranteed WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open is off to a smashing start at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. 424 entries registered on Day 1a, 81 more than Season XVI, and the Season XV field size of 1,312 runners is already within striking distance.
Daniel Wellborn (pictured) took the early initiative and bagged 308,600 to lead the Day 1a field. Wellborn is a 37-year-old Virginian well-suited to playing at Borgata and on the WPT circuit. Earlier in Season XVII, Wellborn cashed in the WPT Borgata Poker Open. That cash accompanies his three other WPT score, one at Borgata, and the other two at Live! Casino & Hotel.
When commenting on his big day, Wellborn credited old-fashion run good with assisting him to the chip lead.
“It feels great. I didn’t expect to do so well. I got coolers all over the place and won every all-in except for one near the end, and she was somewhat short…it was just crazy how good I ran today.”
Roughly half of the field advanced to Tuesday’s Day 2 and there were quite a few notables among them including WPT Raw Deal host Phil Hellmuth (pictured). Hellmuth was busy for most of the day playing in the Borgata $1,590 Heads Up event until Level 8. Once in the field, Hellmuth busted an opponent and finished with 88,500.
Wellborn is the only player with more than 300,000 but a talented group sits a few paces back of him. WPT final tablists Upeshka De Silva (292,400), Ping Liu (221,400), and Mark Dube (215,500) all had productive days. Liu is looking to add more points to his Hublot WPT Player of the Year total as he currently sits 300 points behind current leader Tony Ruberto.
Champions Club members were scattered across the Borgata Event Center and Alan Sternberg (175,800), Brian Altman (138,400), Tony Sinishtaj (134,700), and Asher Conniff (131,400), and Anthony Zinno (40,800) are five of the many who booked a Day 2 seat. Season XVI WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open winner and two-time Champions Club member Eric Afriat bagged 45,300 to start his title defense.
Champions Club members Darren Elias, Aaron Mermelstein, Will Failla, and James Calderaro along with Joseph Cheong and Mike Dentale are among the players who busted on Day 1a, and will assuredly be back in the Day 1b field tomorrow.
WPT Gardens final tablists Brent Roberts and Frank Stepuchin made it through to Day 2 with Ray Qartomy falling short of a bag. Expect to see Qartomy back in action. Either way, all three will play their final table on March 12 at HyperX Esports Arena in front of the WPT television cameras. The Borgata final table follows the next day on March 13.
Alida Veliu advanced to Day 2 only a day after her win in the Borgata Winter Poker Open Ladies event. Veliu had her sister watching over her on Day 1a and told Sean Chaffin about her start in poker that involved a bank robbery.
Day 1b starts at 11 a.m. local time at Borgata with the $3 million guarantee expected to be topped by the time play officially starts.
As always, stay tuned to WPT.com for complete coverage of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open.
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive
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