Bell Gardens, Calif. (27 March 2016) – The World Series of Poker Circuit was a star-studded affair this weekend, as celebrities of the poker world and entertainment industry descended on the Bicycle Casino Main Event. After two starting flights, the leader heading into Day 2 is one of the biggest names in poker. Antonio Esfandiari – winner of the inaugural $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament and the WSOP all-time leading money winner – bagged up 520,000 in chips. He leads his closest competitor by over 200,000.
Despite his numerous poker accomplishments, Esfandiari has never won a tournament with a field this big. Day 1A attracted 353 entries, and there were another 403 on Day 1B, for a total of 756 entries and a $1,134,000 prize pool. There will be 140 players returning for Day 2, which begins Monday at noon.
Also near the top of the leaderboard heading into Day 2 is Jamie Gold, winner of the 2006 WSOP Main Event. He bagged 252,000 (good for sixth place). Esfandiari’s One Drop victory is the biggest first-place prize in WSOP history, and Gold’s Main Event win is the third-largest.
As is natural for an event in the Los Angeles area, the tournament attracted several big names from the entertainment industry, including Oscar-nominated actor James Woods, actor Bill Fagerbakke, and UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, all of whom advanced to Day 2.
There is a possibility for Circuit history to be made here. Alex Masek – who currently leads the all-time Circuit rings list, with nine – advanced to Day 2 with 39,000 in chips, and has a chance to be the first player ever to win 10 rings. Ari Engel, who recently won his eighth career ring, has a chance to tie Masek at the top. And Nipun Java, who won this event two years ago, has the opportunity to be the second player to win the same Circuit Main Event more than once (Blair Hinkle has won at the Horseshoe Council Bluffs three times).
Behind Esfandiari is Mel Wiener, who bagged up 319,000. Both Wiener and Esfanfiari played on Saturday’s Day 1A. The leader from Day 1B was Hector Contreras, who finished with 317,000.
There were countless other successful poker players in this stacked field. Those advancing to Day 2 include WSOP bracelet winners Bryn Kenney (215,500), Tuan Le (180,000), David “ODB” Baker (94,000), Anthony Spinella (107,000), Jonathan Hilton (88,500), Jack Duong (96,500), and Melvin Wiener (319,000). They’re joined by Ludovic Geilich (232,000), Kelly Minkin (180,000), Jason Les (157,000), Shane Schleger (152,000), Nam Le (138,000), Barry Woods (199,500), Phong “Turbo” Nguyen (105,000), Jordan Cristos (95,500), Ryan Laplante (90,500), Dylan Wilkerson (88,000), Ting Ho (59,000), Chris Moorman (39,000), and Kevin O’Donnell (33,000).
Players who entered by failed to advance include bracelet winners Phil Laak, Jeff Madsen, Barry Greenstein, Scott Clements, Cord Garcia, Ben Yu, Bryan Piccioli, and November Niner Bob Bounahra.
Day 2 begins Monday at noon. Here are the top 10 chip counts heading into Day 2:
1 – Antonio Esfandiari – 520,000
2 – Melvin Wiener – 319,000
3 – Hector Contreras – 317,000
4 – Doahn Le – 293,000
5 – Ly Tran – 262,500
6 – Jamie Gold – 252,000
7 – Kyle Frey – 249,000
8 – Ludovic Geilich – 232,000
9 – Michael Wolt – 222,000
10 – Bryn Kenney – 215,500