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WPT Alpha8 gets rolling -- without Ivey

 The inaugural World Poker Tour Alpha8 tournament concludes today, with a top prize of almost a million bucks. The new series, which will air on Fox Sports 1 next year, is part of the 33-event Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open going on in Hollywood this month.

 Those in the poker world projected anywhere from 20 to 50 entrants, but as the 4 p.m. cutoff time for entry on Monday drew close, only 14 had put down the $100,000 entry fee. So the players agreed to extend the entry time to 8 p.m. -- a couple of potential players were still alive in the $10 million guarantee main event -- and the tournament grew to 21 entries before the day ended (18 players and 3 rebuys).

 But the biggest name (and one that would guarantee TV ratings) didn't show. Tournament officials said Phil Ivey had wired enough money for two entries (players on Day 1 could re-enter if they busted out), and he arrived at the Seminole Hard Rock on Thursday. He even played two days in the $10 million main event. Alas, Ivey told the WPT he had family issues.

 But Fort Lauderdale's Jason Mercier, who in recent years has been ranked No. 2 in the world, behind Ivey, is sitting well going into Tuesday's final table as the field has been trimmed to nine.

Matt Glantz is the chip leader with 410,500.

Seat 1: Daniel Alaei – 293,500 (73 bb)

Seat 2: Isaac Haxton – 218,500 (54 bb)
Seat 3: Jeff Gross – 140,500 (35 bb)
Seat 4: Bill Perkins – 89,000 (22 bb)
Seat 5: Steven Silverman – 372,500 (93 bb)
Seat 6: Joseph Cheong – 106,000 (26 bb)
Seat 7: JC Tran – 94,000 (23 bb)
Seat 8: Jason Mercier – 375,500 (93 bb)
Seat 9: Matt Glantz – 410,500 (102 bb)

 The WPT says the tournaments will be held in some of the world’s most prestigious venues in North America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa, each event will feature a buy-in of at least $100,000. The World Poker Tour will provide four hours of televised action. Ali Nejad and Olivier Busquet will provide commentary and Lynn Gilmartin will anchor.

 Meanwhile, the main event is down to 21 players, including Weston's Amir Lehavot, who completed the World Series of Poker prelim in second place for the November finals. Lehavot is in sixth place at the Seminole Hard Rock.

 Play resumes at noon in both events. Follow it at or Follower Mercier on Twitter at @JasonMercier

(Photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)

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