Final Nine at WPT Aria: Igor Kurganov Leads, Ryan Laplante Still Grinding

Igor Kurganov holds a slim lead over Matthew Wantman, while CardsChat ambassador Ryan Laplante is still kicking, albeit with the second smallest stack out of nine remaining after Day Three at the WPT Aria Summer Championship. And despite failing to cash, Erkut Yilmaz officially wrapped up World Poker Tour Player of the Year.

Igor Kurganov WPT Aria

Igor Kurganov contemplates his move on Day Three at the WPT Aria Summer Championship. (Image:

Technically, there aren’t any “small” stacks. Even though Laplante and Steve Yea both have under 500,000 chips, the two shortest stacks, they each have more than 33 big blinds. Day Four on Thursday will begin with the blinds at 5,000/10,000 with a 10,000-chip big blind ante.

Big Bucks at Stake

The winner in this $10,000 buy-in event will take home $443,475. Each of the remaining nine players have a guaranteed $42,845 payday. Not a bad start to the summer.

Thursday’s Day Four will play down to the final table of six before completing the tournament on Friday. And although only three players need to bust to lock up the final table, Day Four could be lengthy with so many big stacks.

Igor Kurganov holds the chip lead with 1,385,000. He is one of four players with at least 100 big blinds. Even the small stacks have plenty of dancing chips.

WPT Aria Summer Championship Chip Counts

  1. Igor Kurganov 1,385,000
  2. Matthew Wantman 1,225,000
  3. Art Papazyan 1,115,000
  4. Jim Collopy 1,105,000
  5. Noah Schwartz 935,000
  6. Kevin Eyster 552,000
  7. Yan Shing Tsang 515,000
  8. Ryan Laplante 470,000
  9. Steve Yea 335,000

Three of the final nine – Papazyan, Schwartz, and Eyster – are past WPT champions. Papazyan, one of the top high-stakes grinders in Southern California, is also a past World Poker Tour Player of the Year.

Many big name pros bowed out on Wednesday. That includes Justin Bonomo (13th for $27,925), Jason Koon (14th for $27,925), Tom Marchese (15th for $22,995), and Jake Schwartz (17th for $19,195). For Schwartz, it was a devastating blow despite winning money (more on this in a bit).

Erkut Yilmaz Wins World Poker Tour Player of the Year

WPT Aria Summer Championship is the final event of the 2018-2019 season. Erkut Yilmaz entered with 2,300 points in the Player of the Year standings, 150 more than Dylan Linde. Both players failed to cash in the final event.

Jake Schwartz, with 1,775 points, needed a fourth place or better finish to overtake Yilmaz. He busted in 17th place, however, ending his campaign.

Yilmaz is a deserving champion. He is the only player on tour to have won twice this season, shipping the Borgata Poker Open for $575,112 and Rolling Thunder for $303,920.

Jon Sofen
Written by
Jon Sofen
Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.


Debi wrote...

Go Ryan!!

danoscar wrote...

He finished in sixth place. Great hand, AKo and again a challenge against a JJ. To add the final blow of a J on the river and no other face card, kind of reminds me of places I have and others have been. $89,865 won. Not a bad day, though!

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