The World Poker Tour held two major poker tournaments that awarded three prizes of over $1 million this weekend, with all of the action taking place in the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
That casino played host to both the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas, and it’s hard to say which of the two events garnered more attention over the weekend.
In terms of field and prize pool, the main WPT event was the more popular choice. A total of 586 players took part in the $10,000 buy-in Five Diamond World Poker classic, far more than the 449 who showed up for the same event last year.
The purse was certainly boosted by the fact that this was a re-entry tournament, a feature that several pros said they would be taking advantage of before the event even began.
Most notably, Daniel Negreanu had announced that he planned to “purchase a stack” by buying in as many times as necessary before he could build enough chips to be competitive. In the end, Negreanu fired five bullets before finishing in 25th place. That was enough to earn a $36,947 prize, but not nearly enough to cover his $50,000 in buy-ins.
Several of poker’s big names made deep runs into the tournament, including Will Failla (9th) and Jared Jaffee (7th). Tobias Reinkemeier even made the televised final table, finishing 6th and winning $218,842. But ultimately, the tournament came down to a heads-up battle between Mohsin Charania and Garrett Greer.
Greer held a significant chip edge early in the heads-up match, but Charania doubled up five times to take a commanding lead before he finished off the tournament when his 96 outdrew the pocket twos of Greer. Charania won $1,477,890 and his second career WPT title, having previously won the 2013 WPT Grand Prix de Paris.
On the same day, the WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas was also playing out in the same building. The $100,000 buy-in high roller tournament attracted an impressive field of 55 players, with only six making the money, though two of those players would win over $1 million.
In a field stacked with some of the world’s top players, it was no surprise to see big names like Brian Rast, Noah Schwartz and Bryn Kenney make their way to the top six and score large cashes. But the title would come down to a head-to-head match between Andrew Lichtenberger and Tom Marchese.
The battle was finely balanced throughout, with the chip lead changing hands several times over the course of 45 heads-up hands. Finally, the tournament ended with the two players getting all of their money in before the flop. With a slight chip lead, Lichtenberger held Q9 of clubs against the red pocket eights of Marchese.
Lichtenberger improved to a flush on the turn, and Marchese couldn’t make a full house on the river, ending the tournament.
Lichtenberger earned a little over $2.1 million for his victory, the largest cash of his career. It wasn’t a bad day for Marchese, either: as the runner up, he took home $1,240,965.