The World Poker Tour’s successful return in 2021 has been further demonstrated by their current stop at The Venetian in Las Vegas. The WPT Venetian had nearly 1000 entries for their $5000 Main Event and, beginning on Sunday’s Day 2, more than 200 players were still alive for the title. By the end of the night, however, there were only 32 players remaining with a WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup member, James Carroll, leading the pack.
First Up…The Money Bubble
224 players were in The Venetian tournament arena at 11AM (Pacific) on Sunday, ready to figure out who would walk away with a piece of the $4.3 million prize pool. Leading the way was Day 1A chip leader Dustin Dirksen, who was joined over the 500K chip mark by Day 1B chip leader Danny Wong. Arranged behind them were such notables as Joseph ‘sublime’ Cheong, Ken Einiger and another WPT Champions’ Cup member, Jack Hardcastle.
The first order of business was to pop the money bubble and that came rather rapidly. It would take roughly three hours to get down to the level where the “Action Clock” (the 30-second “shot clock” used by the WPT to move the action along one table before the money bubble). Another 90 minutes of action would bring the tournament to the precipice of the money, with that bubble popping quickly.
On the very first hand of “hand for hand” play, Brian Ortiz moved all in with an A♠ 8♠ and was looked up by George Wolff’s pocket tens on the button. An uneventful Queen high board would run out, bringing nothing for Ortiz as his chips were pushed to Wolff. With that singular hand, the money bubble was popped and the cash began to flow.
Players such as Lily Kiletto, Jake Schwartz, Amnon Filippi, Ali Imsirovic and Cheong would depart with a little extra money than they went into the tournament with. But there were some player who made some hay that would carry them to Day 3 of the tournament.
Carroll’s Time to Shine
Carroll started the day in the overall Top Ten and he would not depart that position through the entirety of the day’s action. He clashed with Ralph Wong during the run-up to “hand for hand” play, moving all in on the river of a three-spade board for approximately 170K. Wong considered his options for SIX of his time chips before he would let his hand go. Carroll, being the gentleman, would show Wong that he had made the right decision by showing suited connectors, 7♠ 6♠, to assuage Wong’s mind.
From that point, Carroll continued to reign supreme over the field. As the tournament clock counted down the numbers, Carroll’s chip stack continued to move upward. By the dinner break, Carroll was in second place behind Trace Henderson, while notables such as Ryan Laplante, Upeshka De Silva, Mike Sowers, Matt Stout and Einiger all took their leave from the party. Henderson and Carroll would battle it out through the evening of Day 2, looking to seize control of the event. They would, in the end, have a relatively small separation in the chip counts and, in looking down the leaderboard, there was a slim separation in the Top Ten:
1. James Carroll, 2.69 million
2. Trace Henderson, 2.485 million
3. George Wolff, 2.32 million
4. Quig Liu, 2.195 million
5. Kou Vang, 2.15 million
6. Sergio Aido, 2.01 million
7. Stefan Nemetz, 1.95 million
8. Adam Hendrix, 1.825 million
9. Tony Sinishtaj, 1.73 million
10. Jamey Kramer, 1.595 million
There are 32 players remaining in the battle for the championship of the WPT Venetian. They will reconvene on Monday morning, bright and early at 11AM, to continue Day 3 combat. The players will get down to the final table of six this evening, with the coverage of the tournament limited to the WPT Live Updates team. The eventual champion crowned on Tuesday night will receive their nameplate on the WPT Mike Sexton Champions’ Cup, their entry into the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions (are they going to do that this year?) and a $752,880 payday.