Season VI of the World Poker Tour
concludes the international leg of the tour this week in an eight-day event held on the Canadian-U.S. border at the beautiful Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario. After stops in the Caribbean (Turks and Caicos) and Europe (Barcelona, Spain), the WPT North American Poker Championship
kicked off on Friday, just a stone's throw away from the legendary falls themselves.
The tournament room is about a two-minute walk to the casino's balcony, which offers a fantastic view of the Falls. While Bellagio allows players to enjoy their breaks overlooking the infamous water fountains, for the next week they'll be able to relax between levels watching Mother Nature's take on a water show - and it's a spectacle that not even Las Vegas can compete with.
Players were able to choose from three starting days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and, true to form, most of the big-name professional players chose the later days. There were 174 players who paid $10,300 each to play at noon on Friday, and in 12.5 hours, exactly 100 of them were eliminated. The surviving players will get the weekend off before returning on Monday for day two.
Tournament Director Jason March is expecting larger fields on Saturday and Sunday, which would create a much larger field than last year's 497 entrants, and the total prize pool is expected to approach $6 million CAD. This year's winner should also be taking home more than the $1.2 million CAD that Soren Turkewitsch
picked up for first place last year.
Though most of the pros will be showing up over the weekend, Friday featured players like Barry Greenstein
, Kenna James
, Peter "Nordberg" Feldman
, Gavin Griffin
, Roy Winston
, Steve Paul-Ambrose
, Cory Carroll
, Tuan Lam
(runner-up from this year's World Series of Poker
main event) and last year's second-place finisher, Jason Sagle
. Season VI WPT
winners Jonathan Little
, Roy Winston, and Rhynie Campbell
were also present, but the biggest draw for local spectators on day one was Gavin Smith
, who grew up in nearby Guelph, Ontario.
The player of the day had to be end-of-the-day chipleader Little, who is currently in fifth place in the Card Player
Player of the Year race this season, with eight final tables this year, including a win in the WPT Mirage Poker Classic
During the first level of the day, Little was part of a three-way all-in situation after a flop of J-9-8. One player had pocket aces for an overpair, Little had pocket eights for bottom set, and Rhynie Campbell
(recent winner of WPT
Turks and Caicos) had pocket jacks for top set. There were only three cards in the deck that Campbell needed to avoid (two aces and an 8), but the turn card was the 8 - and Little won the pot with four of a kind to become the early chip leader.
Little had some ups and downs during the day, but took command late, finishing with a dominating stack of 164,200 - about 3.5 times the average of 47,000. Here are the top-five chip leaders:
1. Jonathan Little - 164,200
2. Dario D'Agostino - 136,000
3. Ilsoo Baek - 125,100
4. John Mars, Jr. - 102,800
5. Matt "Ch0ppy" Kay
Another field of players will start with 20,000 in chips each on Saturday at noon ET, and it'll be interesting to see if anyone can catch Little before day two. Return to CardPlayer.com
for continuing live coverage of all the action.