Brandon Lai Leads after Day 1A of WPT Gardens Poker Festival Main Event


Season XVII of the World Poker Tour has kicked off in style with a summer festival at the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, California. And Day 1A of the festival’s $5,000 buy-in Main Event is already in the books.

Played yesterday at the host casino, the first starting flight of the tournament saw 209 entries register to take a shot at the first-place prize, which includes a share of the prize pool and an additional treat. The Gardens Casino is contributing $200,000 in prize money to the event as well as a shiny Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster to the winner.

It is yet to be seen how much the event will generate for the overall prize pool, as registration will remain open until some point into Day 2. The tournament allows for players to enter and re-enter twice per Days 1A and 1B as well as during the early stages of Day 2. This means that there is a huge chance for the field to be boosted significantly in the next two days as everyone interested to participate has four more bullets into the first WPT Main Tour Main Event of the current season of the popular poker series.

Brandon Lai Leads Day 1A Survivors

Day 1A concluded with around 100 survivors of all 209 who registered into the Main Event. The remaining hopefuls will return at the host casino on Monday for Day 2 of the tournament.

Brandon Lai bagged and tagged the largest stack of the night after surviving through eight one-hour levels scheduled for the day. The player put 204,200 into his bag to secure the top spot in the temporary leaderboard.

However, popular poker pro Ari Engel is trailing closely behind him with 201,700. The top of the chip counts chart also includes Jake Schindler who bagged 164,800 last night. Schindler has been running hot over the past several months. In April, he took down the partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona €100,000 Super High roller for a prize of €1.75 million. Kitty Kuo is also among the notables who bagged larger chip stacks last night. Coming fresh from the recently completed World Series of Poker, the female poker pro will enter into Day 2 action with 163,000.

But before that, Day 1B of the Main Event needs to be completed. The second of two starting flights is slated to kick off today at noon local time at the host casino for eight more one-hour levels. As mentioned above, all players will be allowed two entries throughout the day. Registration into the tournament will remain open until the start of Level 11 on Day 2.

This is the first time the WPT’s Main Tour is landing in the Gardens Casino. While the location is not a familiar one to the poker series’ main brand, it hosted last year the WPT500 Los Angeles for that brand’s first trip to hot and sunny Southern California.