WPT Tournament of Champions draws in 80 of the best to ARIA Las Vegas

It was an electrifying scene today in Las Vegas with World Poker Tour champions converging at ARIA Resort & Casino for the ultimate battle of the season, the WPT Tournament of Champions. This exclusive event saw 80 WPT past champions take to the felt eager to test their skills against fellow pros and hopefully close out the WPT Season XVI as the supreme leader.

WPT Tournament of Champions

After 10 hours of play, only 29 players remained with one champ solid at the top, Dennis Blieden. Blieden closed the day with 593,000 in chips, which was equivalent to nearly 12 champions chomped. One player he knocked out in brutal fashion was Aaron Mermelstein. During the last hand of the night, Mermelstein’s set of fives was crushed by Blieden’s set of sevens.

With his massive stack, Blieden built a nice cushion against the rest of the players. In second position was JC Tran with 305,000, Marvin Rettenmaier next with 234,500, and in fourth was Erik Seidel with 223,000.

Also among the day’s survivors was the mighty Darren Elias with 170,000. Just yesterday, Elias won the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic to become the first player to win four WPT titles. Trailing close behind him was the Hublot WPT Player of the Year 2018 winner, Art Papazyan with 166,500.

As for Asia’s lone representative, Pete Yen Han Chen, he is still in the running but will need to boost his stack to reach the leaders. Chen bagged up 62,500. Others also short-stacked were Nam Le with 61,500 and Sam Panzica with 50,000-.

Players out of gas

While the day had its list of survivors, this was outweighed by a large roster of dropouts. Plenty of champions banged the rail today and among them were last year’s ultimate champion Daniel Weinman, three-time WPT title-holder Anthony Zhinno, pros Antonio Esfandiari, Tony Dunst, Dietrich Fast, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Dominik Nitsche.

Daniel Negreanu out, Phil Hellmuth not in

One player in the field today was Daniel Negreanu. His attendance was made known on social media via a tweet he sent Phil Hellmuth who did not qualify into the event.

Negreanu’s day was a short one, He fell just after the close of registration and quickly sped off. As for Hellmuth, he dropped by late in the evening to witness some of the action but if he was there to rail his pal Negreanu, then unfortunately he missed his chance.

The invitational WPT Tournament of Champions is scheduled to run for three days from May 24 – 26 with the final day held at the Luxor’s Esports Arena.

With 80 players at US$15,000 each, the prize pool swelled to US$1.2M. As added value, the prize pool was bumped up another US$100,000 in cash. Apart from that, the winner is due to receive an extra US$50,000 cash plus a seat worth US15,000 to next year’s WPT TOC. With all that combined, the total prize pool amounted to US$1,365,000. The winner will earn the lion’s cut of US$463,375. The money will begin flowing at 10 places. The game resumes at 12pm on Friday, May 25th where they will play down to the final six players.

Somuchpoker is on-site to report the action so stick with us to find out who will be triumphant at the season-ender WPT Tournament of Champions.

Article by Tricia David

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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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