That’s a big price tag for just about anything. For a poker tournament guarantee – that number is outrageous. And the race to reach that total for the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas $10,400 event kicked off in earnest on Tuesday morning as players flooded the ballroom at the very start of the day to grab a piece of the prize pool and, perhaps, be the last one standing with a life-changing score in hand.
With so much at stake, it should be no surprise that a field of poker superstars were in their seats early enough to hear the announcement of “Shuffle Up and Deal.” The early mood was quiet and focused as the persistent, peaceful chirping of chips kicked in and players started actually playing hands. The ice was broken.
Andrew ‘LuckyChewy’ Lichtenberger was among the first in the room, joined by the likes of Irish poker legend Andy Black, 2023 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Ian Matakis, WSOP champ Martin Jacobson, WPT Honors recipient Bruno Fitoussi, and three-time WPT champion Brian Altman
Any starting table with Altman at it should be considered a tough draw. Still, Altman’s table would be a nightmare for a recreational player as Kane Kalas, online poker legend Kevin ‘BeL0WWaB0Ve’ Saul, and newly-minted 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and WPT Champions Club member Erik Seidel rounded out one of the early “table of doom” contenders of level one. Seidel, fresh off his big win in the Bahamas, drew immediate attention as media flocked to the table to grab a shot of the Poker Hall of Famer.
In fact, the field was full of WPT champs including four-time winner Darren Elias, Dietrich Fast, Scott Eskenazi, Daniel Strelitz, Ben Palmer, Mike Leah, two-time winner Mohsin Charania, as well as current WPT Player of the Year points leader Bin Weng.
It didn’t take long for the room to liven up and the conversation level to rise. It also didn’t take very long for the bustouts to begin. Ten minutes into the level, a table near the ballroom entrance saw a flopped straight run into a rivered full house for what was likely to be the first (of many) coolers that would send people to the rail. It goes without saying, it’s not going to be east to get to the end.
All it took was a couple of hands, and a clash of cards, and players including Maria Konnikova, Kevin Rabichow, and Landon Tice, shook off any potential nerves of playing in a big-time event and got to the business of grinding.
By the end of the first sixty minutes the field was pushing 400 entries including the likes of Ben Lamb, Japanese superstar vlogger Masato, Ian Steinmann, Scott Ball, John Monnette, Alex Torelli and WPT mainstay Shannon Shorr.
And that’s just Level One.
For more updates and chip counts – check out the WPT Live Updates.