With registration now closed, all told 146 runners paid the $25k to create a $3.5m prize pool and $1.1m up top for the winner.
As expected poker's A-list came out in force with Esfandiari, poker's all-time leading money winner, and Cody, the newest PokerStars pro, making their mark on the leaderboard.
Esfandiari won a huge flip at the end of the day against Ryan "g0lfa" D'Angelo to bag up 536,100 and sit in third overall behind WPT bestbet champ Mike Linster (744,000) and poker "hobbyist" Dan Shakpoker "hobbyist" Dan Shak (617,300).
Cody finished the day in sixth with 453,500 and took the distinction of ClubWPT Player of the Day.
Steven "Zugwat" Silverman (513,200), recent winner of the EPT Grand Final High Roller, and WPT Spring Championship winner Amir Babakhani (491,000) round out the top six.
Jaka, Hellmuth, Negreanu in Chase Pack
While the recently completed EPT Grand Final final table was considered one of the toughest ever the WPT Championship is shaping up to be more of the same.
Of the remaining 66 no less than 24 are former WPT champions, many of whom earned their seat with a win this season.
Chino Rheem, Will Failla, Rocco Palumbo, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Marvin Rettenmaier, Matt Salsberg and Daniel Negreanu are just a few of the past winners still alive.
Among the non-winners, tough outs like Faraz Jaka (385,300) and Phil Hellmuth (307,000) are stacked and in position to make a run. The top 10 and chip counts heading into Day 3:
- 1. Mike Linster 744,000
- 2. Dan Shak 617,300
- 3. Antonio Esfandiari 536,100
- 4. Steven Silverman 513,200
- 5. Amir Babakhani 491,000
- 6. Jake Cody 453,500
- 7. Richard Harrock 399,600
- 8. Chino Rheem 396,500
- 9. Rocco Palumbo 395,200
- 10. Will Failla 386,000
Among the notables to hit the rail today for good included Phil Ivey, Mohsin Charania, Galen Hall, Dominik Nitsche and Nick Schulman.
For a full recap of Day 1 and Day 2 action, check the WPT Live Updates. Play picks up again tomorrow at 12 noon local time.