While fewer than 150 hopefuls began play Monday, making it look like the field would be one of the T.J. Cloutier, Tom McEvoy, Josh Arieh and Robert Williamson III also found ways to make other players' wallets $5k fatter, busting in the mid to late levels.
If you've never heard the name Blair Hinkle before, you certainly haven't been paying enough attention to the WPT the past few weeks. The solid online pro made a deep run at the LAPC before turning Phil Ivey into the chip leader (and eventual winner) in a massive hand. He busted out 11th soon after, but Hinkle continued to make a name for himself here on the WPT circuit at Bay 101 today and will be freerolling the rest of the way as well, ending Day 1b with the chip lead and the $10k bonus that comes with it.
The surprise of the day would have to be Clonie Gowen. The Full Tilt pro, more popular for her good looks than for good play, managed to bust one of the best minds in the game when she caught aces against Tom McEvoy's tens early on. It looked like she picked up a little more than just the former world champ's bounty, riding a wave of newfound solid play to a $163,300 stack. That meant she finished just behind Hinkle's $170,800.
Paul Wasicka also killed it in the late levels of the day, finishing third in the Day 1b chip counts with close to $140k.
Day 2 is set to begin Wednesday around 10:30 a.m. (PST) and we will see the survivors from both Day 1's combine to make a grand total of 141 players still in the hunt. Everyone will still be looking up at Day 1a chip leader Brandon Cantu and his $240k stack, but as we all know, this is the World Poker Tour and anything can happen. Be sure to hit up PL.com for live updates from start to finish. You've tried the rest; now you know you can stick with the best.