The Season XVI WPT Choctaw $3,700 Main Event rolled on with the second of two starting flights taking place on Saturday, August 5. It was a day that saw the prize pool’s $2 million guarantee get smashed and an additional 562 entries added to the field. The field now sits at 902 entries with registration and reentry open until the start of Day 2 on Sunday, August 6, at 12 p.m. CT.
Bagging the chip lead after Saturday’s action was Jesse Rockowitz with a stack of 343,300 in chips. Rockowitz entered the Season XVI WPT Choctaw Main Event with nearly $1.4 million in live tournament earnings, including a second-place finish at WPT Rolling Thunder in Season XIII for $176,018.
Every time a member of the WPT.com coverage team checked on Rockowitz, he had more chips. Some of those chips came when he busted 80-year-old ClubWPT.com qualifier Mack Lambert in Level 10 with the blinds at 500-1,000 with a 100 ante. On a board of , Lambert was all in with king-jack and drawing dead against the ace-queen for Rockowitz.
In the last level of the day, Rockowitz was witnessed busting another player when his pocket kings held up against an opponent’s . All in all, Rockowitz had a relatively obstacle-free climb to the chip lead.
“Smooth sailing today,” Rockowitz said after bagging up his chips. “Made lots of sets and made lots of straights — just didn’t miss.”
Other big stacks to finish the day included Samuel Bernabeu (303,300), Eric Bunch (300,400) WPT Champions Club member Jordan Cristos (278,500), and two-time WPT champion Aaron Mermelstein.
Mermelstein received a nice boost to his stack at the end of the day when he busted an opponent with the versus his opponent’s pocket jacks.
With the blinds at 800-1,600 with a 200 ante, Mermelstein three-bet from the button to 14,300 after a raise to 3,500 and a call in between. The initial raiser, who was acting out of middle position, reraised to 43,500, the flat-caller folded, and then Mermelstein five-bet jammed all in for effectively 90,000 or so. His opponent called with the jacks, but Mermelstein spiked an ace to win the hand and score the elimination.
“Had a good table draw,” Mermelstein said about how his day went. “People kind of seemed like they were trying to make Day 2, so it worked out really well for me. Then at the end of the night I three-bet from the button after an open, he four-bet, I five-bet jammed ace-deuce, he called all in with jacks, and I got it in bad. Sometimes it happens, but it worked out.”
A few of those players who busted out on Saturday were Tony Dunst, Scotty Nguyen, Tommy Vedes, TJ Cloutier, and Layne Flack. With registration and reentry open until 12 p.m. CT on Sunday, these players may hop back in the field.
Once noon rolls around on Sunday, the official field size will be locked in and payout information will be released, so stay tuned for that.
Be sure to keep it locked right here to WPT.com for continued coverage of the Season XVI WPT Choctaw Main Event.
Photography by Joe Giron of PokerPhotoArchive.com.
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