There was need for a change. After reaching its peak in 2007 with 639 entries, the WPT World Championship shrank considerably in the last few years. Last year for example, only 146 entries were booked, an all-time low since the first season 11 years ago.
This year, however, the World Poker Tour organizers came up with a plan to revive the once must-play tournament. First, they changed the location, moving the event from the famous Bellagio in Las Vegas to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The second change they made was lowering the buy-in from $25,500 to $15,400. Lastly, they raised the stakes by guaranteeing a prize pool of $5 million, including at least $1.35 million for the future Season XII World Champ.
The poker community responded pretty well and 105 players gathered to play in the first starting day of the event. Players like Season XII winner Tony Dunst, James Carroll, Jared Jaffee, Dan Smith, WPT Player of the Year favorite Mukul Pajuha, former WPT Champions Scott Seiver and Chris Moorman, 2013 WSOP Main Event winner Ryan Riess, not to mention poker legend Phil Hellmuth, who didn’t want to miss the season finale:
Now playing in E-mail
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) April 22, 2014
And after 8 levels, Paul Volpe ruled them all being the only player to have a 200-big blind stack or more. He started his chip accumulation late, in the fifth level of play, after doubling up through Anthony Zinno. Volpe moved all-in on a #5h#5c#4c#9c board and got called by Zinno. Both players had huge hands, but it was Volpe who took down the chips in the middle holding #9h#9d for the boat. His opponent turned a flush with #qc#8c and was drawing dead.
Volpe continued to increase his lead by eliminating Micah Raskin in another huge showdown. Both of them flopped a set but it was Volpe who had the upper hand with a set of eights.
Pahuja, who is very close to securing the 2014 POY title, had a good Day 1 and sent WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars winner James Carroll to the rail after flopping a set of kings.
Other notable eliminations included WPT L.A. Poker Classic champion and online legend Chris Moorman, 2014 PCA Women’s Event final table participant Lily Kiletto, WPT Champions Club members Jaffee, Eugene Katchalov, Dan Smith, and poker’s self-proclaimed “best player in the world” Ryan Riess.
Busted JJ to AK aipf. Rebuying tomorrow
— Ryan Riess (@RyanRiess1) April 22, 2014
All of them will have the chance to rebuy today starting at 11 AM ET. Just like in Day 1A, registration will remain open until the start of Level 7 and with satellites running all day long in the Borgata Poker Room, there is a big chance that the guaranteed prize pool of $5 million will be surpassed.