For the third consecutive year, the World Poker Tour has backed up the production trucks at Maryland Live! in Hanover for an event on their Season XVI schedule.
Starting at noon today, the $3500 buy in Main Event becomes the focal point of the players gathered in Maryland. Two Day Ones (Day 1B is scheduled to run on Sunday) will comprise the field, which will have plenty of opportunity to meet the $2,000,000 guarantee that Maryland Live! has put up. There are unlimited re-entries for the tournament and late registration will continue until the start of Day 2 on Monday. The tournament is a “best stack forward” event, meaning that players can play both Day Ones but only the best stack from their efforts will move to Day 2 action.
The $2,000,000 guaranteed prize pool tournament is one of the success stories of the WPT in that, two years ago, it was a venture into an arena where they weren’t sure of the potential success. Maryland Live! wasn’t sure of their drawing power either as they had just opened for business a few months earlier. What started with a bit of mystery as to its potential success has, two years later, become one of the more popular stops on the WPT circuit.
In 2015, 337 entrants (a very good number for an inaugural event) came to the tables at Maryland Live! to battle it out for a $1,063,000 prize pool. It was one of the events where Cate Hall first garnered a good deal of recognition in making it to the final table. Her drive at the title would come up short, however, as Aaron Mermelstein was able to outlast Xin “Tony” Wang to capture the first ever championship of the WPT Maryland Live! Main Event.
After more people heard the buzz of its first journey, the numbers increased for last year’s tournament. By the time late registration ended, players had ponied up the $3500 (at least once) 554 times to build a $1,772,800 prize pool. Hall made it back to the final table again, this time facing Darren Elias (looking for his third ever WPT championship) and Benjamin Zamani (who would eventually become the 2016 WPT Player of the Year), but none of them would figure into the heads-up battle. In the end, Zachary Smiley would earn the championship and the $356,536 payday after defeating Ryan Belz.
The WPT has been on site for the past few days, getting the players warmed up for the battles that are coming. A WPT Welcome Party for the players was held last night, which brought in poker professional Christian Harder and several members of the Royal Flush Girls. From photos that have appeared on Twitter, the event was well attended and enjoyed by all.
There is some question amongst the players, however – will the $2 million guarantee be met? If they are to meet that guarantee, then there will have to be another increase roughly equivalent to last year’s tournament. The 2016 version of the event brought in 64% more entries than the inaugural year; if this year’s tournament were to make a similar increase, that would be a 900-entry field. While that might be a bit fanciful to think of, it is possible to imagine a 700-entry field, which would also pass the $2 million guaranteed prize pool with room to spare ($2.3 million).
The cards will hit the air at noon today and the proceeding are not going to be a part of the Season XVI broadcast schedule (which could have an impact on the numbers). The final table, however, will be a part of the stream schedule on PokerGO that the WPT agreed to earlier this year. Can Cate Hall make it three years in a row at the final table? Who will emerge from what should be a competitive field? We’ll answer those and other questions as the WPT Maryland Live! Main Event kicks off play later today.
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