West Chester’s Paul Volpe and three other Philly-area players are among the final 97 players as the World Series of Poker Main Event heads into the sixth round on Sunday.
Volpe has 3.25 million chips and sits in 20th place in chips after spending most of the day near the top of the leaderboard. However, he is still well within striking range of the leader, Kyle Keranen, of Las Vegas, who has 6.935 million chips.
The other local players are Russell Thomas, of Wallingford, Roman Valerstein, a Parx regular from Newtown, Richard Pyne, of Blackwood, N.J., and Dave D’Alesandro, of Wenonah, N.J.
Thomas, who has cashes in WSOP events in 2010 and 2011, had 2.095 million chips and is in 35th place. Valerstein, who qualified for the WSOP National Championship, has 1.77 million chips and is in 45th place. And Pyne has 1.4 million and is in 60th place. But in one big hand, any of those three could leap into contention—or be eliminated.
D’Alesandro will have to mount a quick rally on Sunday. He is 96th in chips with 415,000.
Volpe, 30, who frequently wears a Phillies cap while playing, has primarily established his credentials in online poker where he’s known as paulgees81. Occasionally, he also plays in area casino cardrooms, including Parx in Bensalem and the Borgata in Atlantic City. Last year at the World Series of Poker, Volpe had six cashes and this year, he has one for more than $20,000.
Since the federal crackdown on Internet poker in 2011, Volpe has traveled with poker-playing friends to Canada and Costa Rica to continue playing.
Volpe grew up in West Philadelphia, attended West Catholic for a year and then moved to South Jersey where he graduated from Washington Township High School. He worked for an insurance company in computer operations for a while, and then discovered Internet poker. Among the online poker crowd, Volpe came to the game late—he was about 25 when he started—but he moved up the ranks quickly.
When the federal government closed down the major online poker websites with U.S. customers on April 15, 2011, Volpe said that he had about $100,000 on the Full Tilt Poker website. As is the case with most players who had money on Full Tilt, he has yet to have that money returned.
Photo: Main—Paul Volpe. Courtesy World Series of Poker & Poker News.