Life-changing money up for grabs as WPT Choctaw down to 35 players

Jon Sofen
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Published: July 26, 2021 5:30 PM EDT

Only 35 players remain after two days of play at the $3,700 buy-in WPT Choctaw poker tournament in Durant, Oklahoma. One of those individuals will take home $558,610, and all six who reach the final table have a six-figure payday awaiting them.

Another deep run for Brian Altman

On Sunday night, Day 2 wrapped up with most of the original 964 entries gone. Not long before the session concluded, 2019-2021 World Poker Tour season Player of the Year Brian Altman was eliminated in 48th place for $12,510. Altman is off to a strong start again in the 2021-2022 WPT season after having won the first event of the year last month at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa for $613,225.

The talented poker pro couldn’t quite repeat his Tampa success at Choctaw, but he added a second cash in just three events thus far into the new season. A number of other familiar faces also successfully made it through the money bubble on Sunday. That includes Allen Kessler, a habitual min-casher who did exactly what we’ve all come to expect from “The Chainsaw,” he min-cashed, taking 107th place for $6,410. World Poker Tour announcer Tony Dunst busted in 75th place ($7,910), and the WPT Choctaw’s reigning champion, Craig Varnell went out in 58th place, good for $9,700.

Playing down to the final table

In total 122 players are set to be paid, but only 35 of them remain heading into Monday’s Day 3 session. Albert Calderon bagged the biggest stack (3,160,000 chips). He is fresh off a fifth place finish for $326,750 in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown back in April, the final event of the previous World Poker Tour season.

Kyle Arora, who locked up his first ever WPT cash, is in second place with 2,755,000, and is closely followed by Primo Niyati, also without a previous WPT cash, who finished Day 2 with 2,600,000. James Mackey is the lone remaining past World Poker Tour champion. He bagged 880,000 chips, a below-average stack, and is attempting to make his third career WPT final table. Arthur Morris, who left Choctaw Casino on Sunday with just 255,000 chips (10 big blinds), has the smallest stack.

Each of the 35 remaining players have a guaranteed minimum payout of $14,475. But they all have their sights set on potentially winning life-changing money. First place is set to pay $558,610 and the runner-up will receive $372,415. A sixth place finish — first out at the final table — pays $118,090.

Play will conclude on Monday as soon as the tournament is down to its final six players. The final table takes place Tuesday at noon CST from the Northern Oklahoma card room.

Featured image source: World Poker Tour