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Controversial Day at WPT Legends of Poker

The opening day of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Legends of Poker Main Event got off to an inauspicious start on Day 1a, as attendance for the $3,500 Main Event failed to even pass the 250 player mark, but perhaps even more discouraging for the tournament was the handling of a minor scuffle between two poker pros that occurred during one of the breaks.

The WPT Legends of Poker was once considered one of the crown jewels on the tournament trail, but faltering attendance and a waning poker economy have seen the tournament reduced from its once prominent place at the top of the poker food chain to just another WPT Main Event. Over the years the tournament has seen its buy-in dwindle down to $3,500 in an effort to attract more players to the Bicycle Casino, but these efforts have fallen short, as indicated by the paltry turnout on Day 1a of the event, which saw just 247 entrants.

Even with reentries allowed on Day 1b, it looks as if the Legends of Poker Main Event is going to fall well short of the tournament’s heyday, when million-dollar first-place prize money was up for grabs and nearly 500 players would enter the then $10,000 buy-in tournament, and this year’s event may even struggle to reach last year’s mark of 757 players.

While the attendance was (as it always is) a major story on Day 1a, perhaps no incident was more talked about than a brief scuffle between Matt Marifioti and Jonathan Aguiar during a break. The two have been at each other’s throat on the online poker forums and Twitter, and their recent hostility has apparently spilled over to the real world. According to an account by Jon Aguiar, Matt Marifioti was in attendance with a bodyguard (Marifioti has been accused of some major online poker cheating allegations in recent weeks) and started yelling at Jonathan Aguiar while maintaining a close proximity to his bodyguard. Aguiar claims he was shoved by Marifioti, but refused to call the incident a fight.

Jonathan Aguiar‏@JonAguiar

It was not a fight, Matt stood 4 feet in front of his bodyguard, started yelling at me, then tried unnecessarily to shove me to the floor

You can read the WPT details on the incident here: http://www.worldpokertour.com/Live_Updates/Live.aspx?q={A8447DF1-DBC4-4F4B-9A12-3E116BE5A8CE}&blogId={339F2839-5077-446A-BAE1-DEF8CF272468}

Both men were taken aside by security and both were allowed to return to the tournament; which prompted some outrage by other poker players on Twitter who feel Marafioti’s act is growing old. Some of the players who chimed in on the incident included Eric Froehlich and Jason Mercier, with Mercier tweeting the following:

Jason Mercier‏@JasonMercier

Retweet if u think adz should get booted from the entire poker community… #whyisheevenhere

Despite the small turnout, there were plenty of big names in the field including Jonathan Little, Tony Dunst, Carlos Mortensen, Erick Lindgren, Doc Sands, Brian Hastings, Galen Hall, Vanessa Selbst, Andy Frankenberger, and Dan Kelly. Here is a look at the Top 10 chip-counts at the end of Day 1a of the Season XI WPT Legends of Poker:

  1. Michael Lipman — 257,100
  2. Vadim Bulavchik — 242,200
  3. David Marshall — 211,000
  4. Joseph Hunter — 173,700
  5. David Randall — 169,500
  6. Evan Orman — 146,500
  7. Joseph Cheong — 112,500
  8. Dwyte Pilgrim — 106,600
  9. Lee Markholt — 105,400
  10. Madsen — 99,500


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