Ronald Laplante (pictured) laughed at the suggestion he is a professional poker player.
“The pro was right next to me all day,” he said, referring to his tablemate, two-time WPT champion Darren Elias.
Laplante is just a Canadian family man who has been playing poker since he was a child and enjoys taking part in the big WPT events when they come to his neck of the woods. His track record hasn’t been bad, either. He cashed in two of the three World Poker Tour events at Playground Poker Club in Season XV and finished 29th in the WPT Fallsview Main Event last year.
He has a chance to take his record from “not bad” to pretty impressive on Friday, though. Laplante is chip leader with 22 players remaining in the record-setting WPT Fallsview Poker Classic C$5,000 Main Event. He bagged up 1,724,000 to end Day 2 on top, just edging out David Eldgridge, who finished with 1.7 million.
At a table with tough competition, Laplante managed to steadily chip up and become one of the first players to surpass a million chips. When asked about what hands helped propel him, he had trouble recounting any particularly big ones, save for one pot where he picked up aces against another player’s ace-queen.
“I’m too tired to think about hands,” Laplante said with a smile. “I need my rest to deal with these guys tomorrow.”
Laplante will have the benefit of a redraw for the start of Day 3 to move him away from a table full of big stacks and big names like Connor Drinan, Elias, Eldridge, and Jason James, whose remarkable run from six big blinds to big stack continued all the way until 25th place. The play is getting increasingly aggressive and he will want to stay sharp in order to protect his big stack on Day 3.
Friday will also be an unusually long final day of play for Laplante and the 21 other players, as they will return at 12 p.m. ET and continue until a new WPT champion is crowned. Laplante needs some rest, but one thing he is not in short supply of his support, as his daughter Angel has been on the rail both physically and online, frequently tweeting updates about her dad at each WPT event and cheering him on.
Here is a look at the top five chip counts:
1. Ronald Laplante – 1,724,000
2. David Eldridge – 1,700,000
3. Buck Ramsay – 1,548,000
4. Novica Miskovic – 1,180,000
5. David Ho – 982,000
There is a lot to cheer about in this final 22. In addition to the big stacks, other big stories to keep an eye on include Elias, Kristen Bicknell, and David Cloutier.
Elias was the last WPT Champions Club member in the field heading into Friday’s final day of play, chasing his third WPT title. Bicknell was the last woman standing in the tournament and looking to make it back-to-back WPT Main Tour victories for women in open events after the tour went 265 open-entry Main Tour events without a female champion. Cloutier was looking to make his third career WPT Fallsview Main Event final table.
Other notables still in the hunt include Andrew Chen, Manig Loeser, and Marc-Olivier Carpentier.
The players did come a long way over the course of Day 2 action though. When play began, there were still 148 players and over 80 eliminations to get to the 63-person money bubble. Players dropped at a rapid rate during the opening levels of action with names like Eric Afriat, Michael Aron, Ismael Bojang, Sam Chartier, Henry Tran, and Erik Cajelais all busting well before the money.
Play slowed as the bubble loomed, and others like Olivier Busquet would come close to cashing, but come up short. Rafik Yeghnazari was the player who burst the bubble when he picked up pocket aces to a shorter stack’s pocket kings to guarantee everyone in the field a payday.
Some of the notables who made the money but failed to survive the day include start of day chip leader Ben Wilinofsky (50th), Curt Kohlberg (48th), Blake Bohn (47th), Aaron Massey (44th), WPT Champions Club member Chanracy Kuhn (41st), Chris Bell (32nd), DJ MacKinnon (28th), Jason James (25th), and Connor Drinan, whose elimination in 23rd place coincided with the end of Day 2 action.
The remaining players get a chance to rest knowing they will all take home at least C$17,237, but tomorrow someone is taking that top payday of C$429,384, etching their name on the WPT Champions Cup and taking down the largest field WPT Fallsview Poker Classic main event ever.
Play resumes at 12 p.m. ET. Complete chip counts are available under the chip count tab and the seat draw will be available on Friday morning.