Poker

Berkey, Kenney Bag Big as Bubble Looms at WPT Five Diamond


The 2021 World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio will head into Day 3 on Friday near the money, and with a plethora of big name pros still chasing the $1.2 million first place prize.

Bryn Kenney, Joseph Cheong, and Matt Berkey were among those who ended Thursday’s Day 2 session with huge stacks. Kenney is looking to jump back into the all-time live poker tournament cashes lead ahead of Justin Bonomo, who also reached Day 3 but with a smaller stack.

Bonomo, now with just over $57 million in cashes, holds the lead by just over $260,000. That slim margin could only be overtaken by a fifth place or better finish (assuming Bonomo doesn’t also run deep).

Berkey’s First Major Title

There are still 105 players out of 716 remaining in the $10,400 buy-in tournament in Las Vegas. One of them is Matt Berkey, who finished Day 2 with 648,000 chips, good for the fifth largest stack (blinds will resume at 3,000/5,000/5,000). Ben Hamnett, a former WPT champion, holds the chip lead at 800,000.

Berkey, the founder of the Solve for Why poker training brand, is looking for his first major tournament win. He’s never won a World Series of Poker (WSOP) or WPT title, and his largest career cash — $1.1 million — was in a $300,000 buy-in event (2016 Super High Roller Bowl). But he’s still been one of the most successful pros in the game.

The Pittsburgh native could be just days away from scoring a career-defining tournament win. But he’ll have to outlast a tough field that includes great tournament grinders. So many high-profile players remain.

The seemingly endless list of talent, excluding any aforementioned players, includes 2018 Five Diamond champ Dylan Linde (406,000), Erik Seidel (385,000), Landon Tice (379,000), Nate Silver (313,000), Tom Marchese (218,000), Andrew Lichtenberger (201,000), and Nick Schulman (178,000).

And, as per usual, Darren Elias is still in it as the money bubble approaches with 242,000 chips. The only four-time WPT champion is looking to become the only five-time WPT champion.

Limited Seating

In 2019, the most recent WPT Five Diamond, there were a total of 1,035 entrants. Alex Foxen, who bagged a below average stack on Thursday, won it for $1,694,995. This year, attendance was down significantly with 716 entrants. Matt Savage explained to PokerNews why this year’s event was quite a bit smaller.

Savage, the WPT’s Executive Tour Director, said there was a dealer shortage and only 34 tables inside the Bellagio poker room were accessible for the tournament.

Despite the decline in attendance, Savage said the turnout was “better than I expected.” Given the dealer shortage and limited seating, he appeared to be pleasantly surprised that the tournament still ended up with a reasonably large field.

The bubble will likely burst early on Day 3, which begins at noon PT. There are 105 players left and 90 of them will cash. A min-cash is worth $18,110, and the pay jumps will begin to get big once the field dwindles down to around a dozen.

*Lead photo from WPT.com.



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