James Carroll leads as WPT Venetian down to 32

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: March 9, 2021 5:35 pm EST

James Carroll is in the chip lead heading into Day 3 at the $5,000 buy-in World Poker Tour Venetian Main Event. The tournament started with 937 players, creating a prize pool of $4.3 million, completely smashing the $1.5 million guarantee.

Clearly, poker players are starved for major tournament action after the past year. WPT Venetian is the first major event in Las Vegas since the global health pandemic struck this time last year.

The 2020 WPT Venetian was canceled, but the World Poker Tour staff made it happen in 2021, and it has been a rousing success. Poker players packed the Las Vegas Strip casino for the first WPT event in town since 2019 (hard to believe, isn’t it?).

Registration lines on Friday and Saturday were massive, and numerous players were forced into alternate roles due to the unexpectedly high demand. But everyone eventually got into the game, and live poker is clearly back in Sin City.

At the end of two Day 1 sessions, Dustin Dirksen, a pro from Des Moines, Iowa, held the chip lead with 224 remaining. On Sunday, however, the cards weren’t as kind to the proud Iowa Hawkeye fan. He reached the money, but busted in 35th place for $19,265, his first ever WPT cash.

Carroll, on the other hand, has an opportunity to join an exclusive club. He has two WPT titles to his name, and could become just the sixth player ever with three if he ships the Venetian event. Carlos Mortensen, Chino Rheem, Eric Afriat, Gus Hansen, and Anthony Zinno are the five already at three. Darren Elias holds the record with four titles.

Elias also holds the record for World Poker Tour cashes at 42. He came just short of extending that record on Sunday but busted short of the bubble.

Carroll leads but has work to do

Carroll bagged 2,690,000 chips following Day 2, and will enter Day 3 with a slight lead over Trace Henderson, who sits at 2,485,000. Only 32 players remain, each guaranteed at least $22,525.

Sunday’s bustouts include Americas Cardroom ambassador and popular poker vlogger Ryan Depaulo (42nd for $16,685), Upeshka De Silva (65th for $11,680), Ryan Laplante (69th for $11,680), Joseph Cheong (85th for $9,820), Ali Imsirovic (90th for $9,185), and Jake Schwartz (99th for $8,705).

Multiple big name pros remain in the chase for the $752,880 1st place prize, headlined by 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen (875,000 chips) and high-stakes pro and poker commentator Nick Schulman (300,000 chips).

Zhen Cai barely made it through Day 2 with 90,000 chips, less than four big blinds, and enters Day 3 with far and away the smallest stack. The blinds are currently at 15,000/25,0000 with a 15,000-chip big blind ante.

Play resumes at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Monday beginning at 11 am PT. The tournament will conclude with the six-player final table on Tuesday.

Featured image source: Twitter