The drama of the event was heightened throughout the day by the looming fact that only fifty-four out of the sixty-eight players would place for a cash prize. Unfortunately for those fourteen players, their three-day efforts became all for nothing as they watched their dreams of a World Poker Tour title slip away.
With a $1.5 million first-place prize awaiting the winner, players adjusted their game performance and did their best to capitalize on the opportunities to advance. Several players lost big hands on questionable calls, which only intensified the competition as players focused on playing both their opponents and the cards they were dealt.
As players were eliminated, the game became more of a chess match than a wild all-in blowout. The poker faces of some of the best players in the game eventually cracked as the competition wore on and several prominent pros made exits that clearly left them unsatisfied.
The crowd cheered as the final twenty-seven players of the WPT main event were announced. Taking in the final chip lead was amateur Athanasios Diakos with $1.5 million in chips. Other notable leaders included poker author David Skiansky, Academy Award nominated actress Jennifer Tilly, and Shawn Chaconas.
Shawn Chaconas of New York City, NY, best known for his prowess as a top cash game player, is sitting pretty in fifth place. Chaconas commented, “Borgata is my ‘home-base’ and I love playing here. The structure of this tournament is the best in the country for serious poker players.”
After the tournament wrapped for the night, many of the professional players migrated to B BAR to celebrate or possibly to reflect on their early exit. Poker legend Gavin Smith held court at the B BAR with other notable pros such as David Singer, “Iron Mike” Hofeld, and actress Shannon Elizabeth.
The final table begins Tuesday, September 19th at 5 p.m. and will air on the Travel Channel in the coming months.