WPT World Championship: Mr Keating flying high as 202 players bag from Day 1A

Dave Woods
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Posted on: December 13, 2023 3:34 am EST

It was billed as the battle of the giants, where there could be only one winner. The WSOP decided to schedule Paradise against the WPT World Championship festival this December, and everyone was talking overlays. 

But… and this is a big but. So far, everything has exceeded expectations. Paradise has been hitting guarantees, including for its Main Event. Meanwhile, at Wynn Las Vegas, things have been going crazy. 

The WPT Prime Championship was wild last year. The $2 million guaranteed event ended up attracting 5,430 entries, creating a prize pool of $5,267,100. This year, they nearly doubled that, with 10,512 players more than doubling the $5 million guarantee to create a prize pool of $10,196,640. That’s just silly. 

How high can you go?

And so, onto the World Championship. The 2022 event won event of the year at the Global Poker Awards after smashing through the $15 million guarantee with 2,960 runners and a near $30 million prize pool. This year’s event has a $40 million guarantee – and it’s going up against EPT Prague as well as the Paradise Main Event. That’s also a bit silly. 

Day 1A is now in the bag, and 609 runners have got it off to a fast start. The numbers are comparable to last year’s first flight, which got 615 runners. 

But get this. There’s an extra Day 1 flight this year, and the numbers always get bigger towards the end. How big can this one go? We’ve heard some crazy numbers being bandied about – some too big to even contemplate – but we think that if it hits the $40 million guarantee, it will be an incredible achievement. 

Players are already piling down from Paradise after busting there. Erik Seidel won a bracelet in the Bahamas but was one of the first to register for Day 1A here. And one of the first out. He’ll get to try again over the next few days.  

Phil Hellmuth on his way to the WPT

Phil Hellmuth couldn’t buy a Day 2 bag for Paradise’s Main Event, but his loss is set to be our gain as he’s on his way to the Wynn. Bracelets be damned, he knows where the big $ are now. Don’t expect an entrance and you won’t be disappointed. 

Other big names have already taken a swing and a miss. Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau, Isaac Kempton and Mike Matusow joined Seidel on the rail.  

Some fared a bit better. Gus Hansen, Patrick Leonard, Arden Cho, Darren Elias, and Maria Konnikova bagged big for Day 2.

Nik Airball and Alan Keating both sat down to play late. This was starting to feel like a party. But it’s a party that’s going to get deadly serious as we get deeper into what will undoubtedly be a ridiculously big number at the end.

Gus Hansen played and bagged in Day 1A – he’ll be back on Saturday

Airball hit the rail, but Keating fared rather better. In fact, he bagged the second-biggest stack of the day – 957,000, which is just 41,000 less than Day 1A chip leader Jeff Hakim.

Late charge from Keating

What’s more impressive is that Keating joined the day late and managed to 10x his stack in the space of a few hours following the dinner break.

How? Like this…

Alan Keating – no fear, a hot deck and no fold’em Hold’em

Towards the end of the night, Keating limped and then called a raise to see a 10-6-3 flop. Keating led out for 15,000 before calling a 130,000 jam with Q-J. His opponent had K-T but the board ran out K-9 to give Keating the elimination.

Shortly after bagging, he spoke to a friend and said he was playing, “No fold’em Hold’em”.

It’s an easy game.

 Day 1B starts at 11am PT on Wednesday, and the size of the field there will give us a better idea of just how big this tournament is going to get.

How big? Join us as we count down all the big moments on PokerOrg Instant and you’ll know the instant we do.