Friday was a particularly busy day at Harrah’s New Orleans, with the High Roller playing to a winner while Day 1A of the Main Event ran on the other side of the ballroom.
The $2,200 High Roller began a day prior with a field of 197 entries, and the final 31 of them returned to action Friday afternoon to battle for the ring and the top prize of $106,733. As expected, the remaining field was filled with dangerous players, including ten-time ring winner Maurice Hawkins and three-timer Marshall White.
Both Hawkins and White made it all the way to the final table, though Hawkins was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish after a rare near-miss this time. White, who already won one ring this week, found himself heads-up with Michael Lech at the end of the day, and the battle wore on for a long while.
Lech began the eight-handed final table with the shortest stack of less than 15 big blinds, but many hours and a few favorable coin flips later, he defeated the hot-running White, winning his own second ring and the second six-figure payout of his career.
The 27-year-old poker pro is originally from the small, unincorporated community of Alma, Alabama. Nowadays, though, he mostly wanders around South America doing a variety of volunteer work and other, more leisurely things. This result is the second-largest on his record, behind a big runner-up finish in last year’s WSOP Crazy Eights event for more than $400,000.
While Lech was working his way toward the ring, Day 1A of the Main Event was running in the rest of the tournament area. The $1,675-buy-in event drew 311 entries for the first of its two starting flights, and Day 1 concluded with 58 of them advancing.
There’s a familiar face atop the overnight leaderboard. Jonathan Poche won this event in 2011, defeating a field of 382 entries to win his first ring. Poche hasn’t been back since, but he’s put himself in a good position to chase down another title in his return to Harrah’s New Orleans. He ended Day 1A with the big stack of 244,000 chips.
Here’s the top five through the first flight:
1: Jonathan Poche – 244,000
2: Jeffrey Trudeau Jr. – 234,500
3: Brett Connally – 218,000
4: Ken Barlow – 200,000
5: Brock Gary – 192,000
Ring winner DeJuante Alexander (187,000) also advanced to Day 2, as did Viet Vo (147,000), Loni Harwood (133,500), Doug Carli (127,500), Kyle Cartwright (111,500), Cory Waaland (96,000), Sean Small (59,000), Phil Hui (54,500), and Rob Georato (51,500).