Another massive field headed into the Rio, 2,126 paying their $1,500 entry fee to reach out for the top prize and the WSOP bracelet. The massive field events stretch the capacity of the Rio, providing a good trial run for this year's Main Event. This three-day event had a strategy in common with the lower buy-in events: get chips, get them early, and then push forward. John Juanda, Josh Arieh, Juan Carlos Mortensen, Joe Sebok, and C.K. Hua all busted out in the first hour of play. Michael Mizrachi and Perry Friedman made strong runs early in Day 1. Marina Baroco knocked out Ted Forrest and Barry Greenstein, her kings holding up against each of them. Two hundred-one players made the cash late on Day 1, but they pushed on until only 121 were left.
Day 2 started with a Mizrachi atop the leader board; but this time it was Eric with $75k in chips. His brother Michael stood at a little less than half of his brother's chips, but with his experience, The Grinder is always a threat. Phillip Gurian doubled through Eric Mizrachi , and a new chip leader emerged: veteran Hoyt Corkins. The WSOP bracelet holder moved above $150k. He called David Sklansky's all-in reraise with the hand Doyle Brunson held to win his tenth bracelet, 10-3o. Sklansky looked on in bewilderment at his , to Corkins' , and the flop of put Corkins way ahead. The author had a new chapter to add when the hit the turn, out to Corkins' full house (74th, $5,804).
Michael Mizrachi (67th, $5,804) preceded his brother Eric's departure (42nd, $7,255), and both would have lots to talk about over dinner. Corkins didn't lose any big pots; he just didn't win many chips. While Corkins slid to $100k, Mats Rahmn surged to $177k, sending Thayer Rasmussen out when Rahmn flopped the nut flush (33rd, $8,706). Ashwin knocked out Khongkham Phommaxahane (21st, $17,412) to move over $230k in chips as the end of the night neared. Jordan Morgan knocked out two players at once, calling two all-in's with vs. Ray Abels and Jorge Arias . Two more deuces hit the flop, sending Abels (14th, $31,992) and Arias (13th, $34,824) out. Paul McKinney
caught red kings against the pocket aces of Rahmn, and with McKinney's exit (10th, $43,530), the final table was set.
Ashwin Sarin had a slight chip edge at $591k over Rahmn ($511k), Chris Birchby ($497k), and Richard Toth ($447k). Billy Duarte entered as the short stack, and he lasted four orbits before Chris Birchby's big slick took out his A-Q (9th, $58,040). With that, Birchby had the chip lead, with Sarin now also behind Toth and Rahmn. Heads-up with Toth, the flop came , and the flurry of betting left Sarin all-in. Toth turned over to Sarin's . With the turn of the , all of Sarin's plans crashed down like so many light bulbs hitting the ground. The brought no help, and Sarin was gone (8th, $72,550). Toth had over $1M in chips and with that pot the chip lead.
Michael Binger next got in on the strange play action as he called Jordan Morgan's
pocket tens with . Binger caught the two hearts on the flop then the queen on the turn, and Morgan headed back to Oklahoma in 7th ($87,060). Binger left next, his pocket queens doubling up Rahmn's kings; then Chris Birchby's was good enough to call vs. Binger's all-in of $125k with . The flopped seven sent Binger out (6th, $101,750). Two hands later Padraig Parkinson's pocket queens knocked out James Sileo's big slick (5th, $116,080).
Mats Rahmn held the chip lead with $945k, Toth close behind at $900k, while Birchby ($725k) and Parkinson ($620k) were still in great shape. Rahmn, Toth, and Parkinson each traded the chip lead as these four battled over sixty hands. Toth doubled through Birchby with pocket queens, and Rahmn eventually finished off Chris Birchby (4th, $145,100). When Toth took out Padraig Parkinson in 3rd ($203,139), Toth had $2M chips to Rahmn's $1.1M. Over the next forty hands, Rahmn bit into the deficit only to have Toth restore it. A key hand developed when Rahmn limped and Toth raised to $90k, with Rahmn calling. The flop came and Toth bet $110k and was called. The brought a $265k bet from Toth. Rahmn moved in for his last $640k Toth instantly called with to Rahmn's for a flopped two-pair. The river was no help, and now Rahmn held the chip lead. Richard Toth never got close enough to challenge again (2nd, $333,729).
Mats Rahmn cashed in last year's Main Event, out in 236th. This victory and the $655,141 showed that his first cash was only a hint at better things to come. His wrist will now be adorned with a World Series bracelet, and who knows what's in store at this year's Main Event?