Michael Mizrachi takes the lead of the WPT Tournaments of Champion

66 former champions of the WPT made the trip to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to participate in the WPT Tournament of Champions. It’s the second edition of this event which saw Farid Yachou besting a field of 64 players last year.


The tournament is a special addition to the poker calendar, as it only allows former WPT champions to participate, which inevitably creates an exciting field. The WPT has made sure that the tournament is appealing enough through rake free buy ins.

$100,000, an Audi S5 Coupe and several prizes have also been added to the $1,090,000 prizepool by the sponsors of the event.

Sexton takes his seat in the tournament he dreamt up

In 1999, Mike Sexton borrowed the Tournament of Champions concept from the world of golf and pioneered the first attempt to translate it into a poker context. The concept was simple – assemble all the champions of a sport together for an event which would be embraced by fans and television companies alike. He has now taken his seat in the tournament he spent the past 20 years advocating.

Mike Sexton: From Commentator to WPT Champion

Ema Zajmovic becomes the first female player to compete

Ema Zajmovic

In February of this year, Ema Zajmovic became the first female player to be eligible for the Tournament of Champions when she bested a field of 380 players to claim her invitation and $241,500 in prize money. She took her seat today on her birthday.

Star studded field

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Oliver Busquet, Erik Seidel and Mike Sexton

As you might expect from an invitational event reserved for champions, the field has been ablaze with talent here on day 1 of the Tournament of Champions. It would be impossible to name all of the stars of this show, but Michael Mizrachi, Olivier Busquet, Erik Seidel, Scott Seiver, Ryan Riess, Jake Cody, Eugene Katachalov, Dominik Nitsche and Yevgeniy Timoshenko are all in attendance.

Early fallers

At the start of the day, the tournament room was awash with talent, but for many of the big names, their day would end before close of play. Eli Elezra was drawn on an interesting table with Mike Sexton, Olivier Busquet and Erik Seidel and never managed to get going, falling before the dinner break. Olivier Busquet would also bow out early, finished off by the high flying Mike Sexton. Timoshenko was another early faller, failing to out-flip James Carroll, and the same can be said of Eugene Katchalov, who got brutally coolered after the dinner break. He held Ax3x when the chips were piled into the pot on a 5x4x2xKx board. His opponent, Tyler Patterson flipped over 4x4x and was promptly rescued by a 5x on the river, busting Katchalov.

As the day wore on, Michael Mizrachi began to make serious moves toward the top of the leaderboard, as did Seidel, who vaulted into the top ten places on the chip counts towards the end of play. His 3x3x became a set on the flop of a huge hand played against Mike Sexton, who couldn’t escape from his KxXx. Sexton was eliminated from the tournament in 37th after carrying a strong stack through most of the day.

Michael Mizrachi

With the final five hands of the day being played out, Mizrachi was in high spirits, joking with table mates as he raked in the chips. During those final few hands he surpassed James Romero, and will bring the tournament chip-lead to the table tomorrow.

30 survivors remain. Play will resume at midday tomorrow.

More: Day 1 in video (1 minute)

Chip counts and seating assignments for Day 2

Seat 1.  Niall Farrell  –  57,000  (29 bb)
Seat 2.  Lee Markholt  –  85,400  (43 bb)
Seat 3.  Griffin Paul  –  214,300  (107 bb)
Seat 4.  Sam Panzica  –  71,900  (36 bb)
Seat 5.  Bobby Oboodi  –  87,200  (44 bb)
Seat 6.  Michael Mizrachi  –  287,600  (144 bb)
Seat 7.  Justin Young  –  177,800  (89 bb)
Seat 8.  Daniel Santoro  –  64,000  (32 bb)

Seat 1.  Tyler Patterson  –  199,300  (100 bb)
Seat 2.  Taylor Paur  –  73,900  (37 bb)
Seat 3.  Stefan Schillhabel  –  80,000  (40 bb)
Seat 4.  Harrison Gimbel  –  34,600  (17 bb)
Seat 5.  James Mackey  –  37,300  (19 bb)
Seat 6.  Jonathan Jaffe  –  152,000  (76 bb)
Seat 7.  Erik Seidel  –  179,200  (90 bb)
Seat 8.

Seat 1.  Farid Yachou  –  35,800  (18 bb)
Seat 2.  Ryan Riess  –  42,200  (21 bb)
Seat 3.  Scott Seiver  –  129,500  (65 bb)
Seat 4.  James Romero  –  276,000  (138 bb)
Seat 5.  Daniel Weinman  –  137,900  (69 bb)
Seat 6.  Dylan Wilkerson  –  102,100  (51 bb)
Seat 7.  Andjelko Andrejevic  –  35,000  (18 bb)
Seat 8.  Noah Schwartz  –  61,100  (31 bb)

Seat 1.  Anthony Zinno  –  41,700  (21 bb)
Seat 2.  David Ormsby  –  173,000  (87 bb)
Seat 3.  Marvin Rettenmaier  –  45,300  (23 bb)
Seat 4.  James Carroll  –  51,300  (26 bb)
Seat 5.  Jonathan Little  –  124,100  (62 bb)
Seat 6.
Seat 7.  Jesse Sylvia  –  148,000  (74 bb)
Seat 8.  Zachary Smiley  –  89,900  (45 bb)

More: WPT Tournament of Champions – Full Coverage

Article by Craig Bradshaw