It was an uphill battle during day two of the 2023 WPT World Championship celebrations on Saturday, but it was worth it – for at least 480 people. It wasn't until the final hand of the evening that the money bubble burst, meaning these 480 lucky souls will come back on Sunday claiming at least $18,700 for their efforts. Crowned “King of the Mountain”, at least on the second day, was Alessandro Siena, who bagged over three million chips for the fight on Sunday.
1375 players and a dream
On Saturday, the field came together for the first time on the second day of the 2023 WPT World Championship. After four Day One flights established the field (but fell short of the $40 million guarantee), 1375 players returned with the dream of winning the WPT World Championship. At least a third of the players competing on Saturday would have shattered that dream, with only 480 runners taking part in the $40 million prize pool.
The day's leaders were Kyle Ho (1.211 million) and Chance Kornuth (1.13 million), but it was still too early to sit back and live on the laurels of day one. By the first break of the day, 300 players had been sent to the rails and it seemed like the money bubble was going to burst pretty quickly. In reality, it was only the short stacks who retreated from the field on day one as the game began to slow down and the cream began to rise to the top.
When the second break of the day came, there was a new list of participants on the tournament leaderboard. Chris Moorman destroyed Vlad Darie's stack after he tried to bluff Moorman on an A-3-2-8-2 board. After firing almost his entire stack of around 600,000 (he only left 25,000 in reserve), Darie had to prove his 10-9 for a complete bluff against Moorman's AJ.
That would put Moorman at over 1.3 million chips, but it wasn't enough to even reach the chip lead at the second break. Kiat Lee (1.969 million), Alex Papazian (1.74 million) and Artur Martirosyan (1.545 million) topped the board, while some big names were scrapped. Alex Livingston, Mike Matusow and Kyna England saw their tournaments come to an end before the second break began as the field fell below the 900 player mark.
Eliminate Half the Field? No problem…
After the end of the second break of the 2023 WPT World Championship, things got serious for the players because without a dinner break, they would only play five levels that day. At the start of the fourth level of action, the numbers rose from around 900 to 528, and the reality that the money bubble could burst on the second day grew ever closer. There was a bit of confusion among at least one player about how WPT events were progressing as they neared the money bubble.
When the tournament reaches the last three tables before the money bubble (usually 27 places), the WPT puts its action clock into play, forcing players to make their decisions within thirty seconds or use one of their “time bank” chips, which will be given to them another thirty seconds of advice. Top pro Davidi Kitai, who wasn't used to the action clock, had to burn several of those chips because he thought the dealer should announce when the clock was up (the dealer isn't).
However, the confusion didn't stop Kitai from making it into the money. Only four hands were in hand-to-hand play, four all-ins were on the felt, and three of those turned into double-ups. However, the fourth time the money bubble burst. A J-4-4 flop saw Tyler Hirschfeld's remaining chips in the middle against Maryline Valente. The news wasn't good for Hirschfeld because the cards were revealed:
Hirschfeld: Pocket Aces
Valente: Pocket Jacks
Valente's pocket jacks catapulted him past Hirshfeld, leaving him looking for one of the two remaining aces in the deck or running for fours to fake Valente's full house. A seven on the turn eliminated the chances of runner-runner quads and when a ten came on the river, Valente secured the knockout and Tyler Hirschfeld left Wynn Las Vegas in 481st Place ($0).
1. Alessandro Siena, 3,035 million
2. Mateus Carrion, 2.615 million
3. David Levy, 2,605 million
4. Jacob Ferro, 2.6 million
(Draw) Julien Martini, 2.6 million
6. Ade Olonoh, 2.52 million
7. Raphael Blouet, 2.45 million
8. Michael Gathy, 2.4 million
9. Aditya Sadhu, 2,395 million
10. Julio Belluscio, 2.385 million
There are several well-known names lurking among the top ten. Igor Kurganov (2.34 million), former world champion Hossein Ensan (2.315 million), Kornuth (2.26 million) and Ren Lin (2.2 million) are all over the two million chip mark. However, the short stack includes such well-known figures as Ronnie Bardah, Martins Adeniya and Phil Laak, all of whom need to make early moves to receive more than the minimum withdrawal amount of $18,700.
The plan for Sunday is to play six 60-minute levels, which should reduce the field to a manageable level so that the final table decision can be made on Monday. The eventual champion WPT World Championship 2023 will receive a nice little reward for the holiday season in the form of a gift item worth $5.678 million and the right to a life of immortality in the Mike Sexton WPT Champions' Cup.