WPT World Championship Smashes $15m Guarantee Already; Doyle Brunson Appears

The WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas zipped past its promised $15 million guaranteed prize pool with another Day 1 starting flight still on the horizon.

On Tuesday, a total of 1,053 players paid the $10,400 buy in to compete, which brought the overall tally up to 1,668, creating a pot thus far of $16,346,400. If ever there was any doubt just how excited the poker community was for this winter high roller, those have been put to rest.

Familiar names such as Chris Moneymaker, Mike Matusow, Joey Ingram, Maria Ho and Darren Elias came to play some cards on Day 1b. Registration closed around 7 p.m. PT for the second starting flight with Day 1c to begin Wednesday at 11 a.m.

All those big name pros couldn’t keep pace with Aryan Oliveira, who ended the session with the largest stack at 1,551,000 thanks to a massive heater in the final few hands. Justin Bonomo bagged the Day 1a chip lead at 1,011,000, well behind Oliveira’s pace.

Big Name Pros Come and Go

dan smith wpt poker
Dan Smith bagged a monster stack on Day 1b.

The 10-level (60 minutes per level) session began at 11 a.m. and didn’t wrap until around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Numerous skilled pros and poker celebs came and went as the day progressed.

Just some of the players who bought in for Day 1b but left empty-handed include Brian Rast, Jamie Kerstetter, Kathy Liebert, Phil Hellmuth, Vince Van Patten, and a pair of PokerNews employees, Jesse Fullen and Chad Holloway.

There were 450 survivors who will advance to Day 2 on Thursday, none of whom came even remotely close to matching the massive stack of Oliveira. In fact, the closest competition from Day 1b was Andrew Crookston, who ended with 879,000, or about 176 big blinds.

Dan Smith, who ended his reign as the “best without a WSOP bracelet” this past summer, finished among the top five chip stacks at 748,000.

WPT World Championship Day 1b Top Chip Counts

Place Player Stack
1 Aryan Oliveira 1,551,000
2 Andrew Crookston 879,000
3 Gin Tillman 825,000
4 Nick Yunis 782,000
5 Dan Smith 748,000

Fun-Filled Day Beyond the Poker

wpt world championship

Players were treated to a special presentation before Level 5 helping celebrate the WPT’s 20th anniversary. World Poker Tour CEOAdam Pliska introduced an amazing on-stage performance which commenced with the jugglers of the show Absinthe, a performance by The Drumbots, ending with 10 WPT Passports given away to lucky players in the tournament that can be used to enter future WPT events.

Each player wore a bracelet that glowed, as did the dealers, and when the giveaway commenced, each dealer whose bracelet glowed red dealt cards to their table, with the high hand winning the Passport.

And as an added treat, WPT ambassador Doyle Brunson, the “Godfather of Poker,” made a special appearance to announce “shuffle up and deal”. .

*Images courtesy of WPT.

Name Surname
Christina Bradfield


Christina is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer who discovered poker at the age of twelve. She’s been a contributor to PokerNews since 2022.

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