By Tim Duckworth
The first stop of 2020 for Season XVIII is the WPT Gardens Poker Championship from The Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, California, attracted a total of 257 entrants to surpass last season’s total of 253.
A prize pool of $2,467,200 will see the top 33 players finish in-the-money with a guaranteed $18,825 payday, and for the final six players that reach the televised final table that plays out at the HyperX Esports Arena on Tuesday, March 31, they will be paid out $111,795 in prize money. Whoever can ascend to the top and be crowned the Season XVIII WPT Gardens Poker Championship champion, he or she will collect the $554,495 first-place prize along with receiving a $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions and having their name engraved on the WPT Champions Cup.
Following two starting flights which saw the field reduced to just 110 players, a new wave of players and re-entrants joined the Day 2 field as the final number grew to 257 entrants. After five levels of play, just 48 players would survive into Day 3 as Markus Gonsalves made a late run to grab the chip lead as he finished with 473,000 in chips.
“It started out slow and then I just ran really hot the last two levels,” Gonsalves said. “There was a big hand against Byron Kaverman, but I don’t know what he had. He seemed bothered about it [the two are friends and used to live together] and I want to know what he had. I’m sure he wants to know what I had. It was four-bet pre-flop and then I c-bet the flop and he folded.”
Gonsalves resides in San Diego, California, and has amassed nearly $1.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings. Gonsalves’ best results are a 48th-place finish in the 2007 WSOP Main Event, and a 2008 Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza victory. On the World Poker Tour, Gonsalves has over $240,000 in earnings including five cashes and a fourth-place finish in the Season XIV WPT Rolling Thunder for $91,616.
“There’s still a lot of poker left to play,” Gonsalves said. “It feels good. It’ll be a little easier to maneuver and put pressure on people.”
Sitting behind Gonsalves are four players above the 400,000-chip mark. Joseph Cheong (451,000), Ali Imsirovic (446,500), WPTDeepStacks champion Upeshka De Silva (439,000), and Jonathan Cohen (420,500).
Other players still in contention include WPT Champions Club members Brian Altman, Tony Dunst, David “ODB” Baker, Larry Greenberg, and Daniel Strelitz, along with Season X WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock.
To view the WPT Gardens Poker Championship Day 3 Seating Draw, click here.
Day 3 of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship begins at 12 p.m. (PT) on Sunday with continuous live updates being provided by the World Poker Tour. Stay tuned right here to WPT.com for the exclusive live coverage of the tournament from start to finish to see who becomes the WPT Gardens Poker Championship, and wins his or her way to the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
Photography by Joe Giron / PokerPhotoArchive
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