World Poker Tour Champions Club member Eric Afriat finished Day 2 of the Season XV partypoker.net WPT Playground Main Event third in chips and only slightly behind the two players ahead of him, Hendrik Latz and Jean-Pascal Savard. For Afriat, Monday’s Day 3 at Playground Poker Club will be a chance to inch closer to a historical feat that only 23 others have accomplished in their poker careers — win multiple WPT titles.
Afriat won the Season XII WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, topping 1,795 entries to win $1.081 million. To date, that was the largest WPT Main Tour field in the tour’s history, and now just 27 competitors stand between Afriat and his second WPT title.
Afriat finished Day 2 with 825,000 in chips, good for third on the leaderboard but only a handful of chips behind those ahead of him.
Here’s how the top five stacks up heading into Day 3:
1. Hendrik Latz – 838,000
2. Jean-Pascal Savard – 834,000
3. Eric Afriat – 825,000
4. Kelly Kellner – 809,000
5. Henry Tran – 693,000
When Jean-Pascal Savard’s day began, he was heading in the wrong direction. He finished as one of the top three stacks advancing from Day 1, but a tough table draw saw his chip count plummet from 180,000 to 80,000. Despite the early dive, Savard managed to finish with 834,000 and in second place overall.
Savard says he had some trouble with Daniel Dvoress on his left to start the day, but after the first break, everything started going right for the Quebec City poker pro.
By dinnertime, Savard had taken the chip lead, and he stayed in the top three counts for the rest of the day, cruising comfortably to bag and tag while others saw their stacks, rise, fall, and disappear at a rapid-fire rate once the money bubble burst.
When Day 2 began, 157 players remained from the field of 380 entries. The top 48 finishers were set to reach the money, making Sunday’s Day 2 a very important moving day for those back in action.
Oftentimes, the “bubble boy” is someone with few chips and even fewer options but to move all in. This tournament’s bubble hand was a cooler, though, with Thundhup Ringpa running ace-king into aces in a nearly half million-chip pot. Savard had the aces, and crazily enough, Ringpa took the lead after he flopped a king and turned another to make trips. But the case ace hit the river, giving Savard a winning full house, and busting Ringpa in 49th position.
Afriat, Pascal, and Latz were not the only big stories of this snowy Montreal day. After starting the day as chip leader, WPT Champions Club member Anthony Zinno got through to Day 3 with an above-average stack, bagging 499,000. Zinno will be looking to become the first player in WPT history with four WPT titles. He’ll also be eyeing the Hublot WPT Player of the Year title, albeit a bit further off, to become the tour’s first two-time player of the year.
Zinno and Afriat know how to close at a WPT final table, but partypoker qualifier Ema Zajmovic knows how to final table WPT events at Playground Poker Club specifically. The last woman left in the field finished in fifth place at the Season XV partypoker.net WPT Montreal event in November. She finished Day 2 20th in chips with 257,000.
Keep an eye on the partypoker qualifiers as well. After 21 of the 31 qualifiers made it through to Day 2, seven of them impressively made the money and four remained in the running for the title after Sunday. Mathieu Gagniere (44th), David Graves (37th), and Nicolas Le Floch (29th) all made the money, but busted by day’s end. Zajmovic, Kalpesh Raichura (645,000), Alexandru Baron (342,000), and Victor Adams (272,000) will be coming back for Day 3 action on Monday.
The moving day began with 157 Day 1 survivors from the two starting flights and Zinno leading the pack along with Michel-Claude Baroud and Savard. After ending Day 1b on top, Baroud was unable to survive to the dinner break, while Zinno and Savard continued to trend upward.
Baroud was far from the only player to not find much success on Day 2, though. Justin Liberto, Upeshka De Silva, Sam Chartier, Mike Leah, Matt Affleck, partypoker qualifiers Kristen Bicknell and Michael Tureniec, and WPT Champions Club members Tony Dunst, David Paredes, Jonathan Roy, and Darren Elias all busted.
Mike Sexton’s run at another WPT title atPlayground Poker Club came to an end as well. Sexton busted early in the day after getting short. He was short-stacked and rallied back in November at the partypoker.net WPT Montreal event he won, but it was not in the cards for him this time around.
Other notable in-the-money finishers included Marc Etienne McLaughlin (41st), Christian Harder (35th), and WPT Champions Club member Nenad Medic (32nd).
The 28 players who remained in the running to be the next WPT champion will be back in action on Monday at 12 p.m. ET. Be sure to stay tuned to WPT.com for continued coverage of the event.