As the 2009 World Series of Poker progressed, it seemed that each day became busier, with more events overlapping and more players wandering the Rio Convention Center hallways. It seemed that way because it was, as this was the first day that there were five events playing out at the same time with no final tables in action.
There was as much of a mix in the tournaments as any well-rounded poker player could ask for - no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, seven-card stud, and 2-7 draw lowball. The cash games and satellites were packed with players looking to cash in on the soft fields and win some cheap seats to the big WSOP events, and the Rio was simply bustling.
Without further ado, let us get started with a recap of the action of the day.
Event 4: $1,000 NLHE “Stimulus Special,” Day 3
It was the biggest non-WSOP main event tournament in the history of poker, starting with 6,012 players in the reduced price event. Over the course of two starting days, the field was reduced at an amazing rate of speed to only 760. The official Day 2 brought it down to exactly 50 players after having hit the money at the 621st spot.
Day 3 was off to a rocky start when the tournament directors were faced with so many restarts and new tournaments for the day that there was nowhere to put the final 50 players. When the problem was resolved, players like Greg Buonocore and Rich Silva took early exits, and the afternoon progressed rather smoothly toward the final table. The goal was to play down to a winner, but when the evening set in and play had slowed a bit, it was clear that anyone making it to the final table would not begin that action until well after 10pm, putting a potential finish time at the wee hours of the next morning at best. Ultimately, it was decided to play to the final table and return for an unscheduled Day 4.
As it came down to the wire, Andrew Oddo ended up in 14th place, Josh Mammon in 13th, Michael Scalise in 12th, and Toni Ojala in 11th. The last ten players were relocated to one table, and the last hand of the night soon took place Steve Sung and Eric Chhor went into action after a flop. Chhor decided to risk his tournament life with , and Sung called with and top two pair. The on the turn and on the river sent Chhor packing in tenth place, which was worth $80,567.
The final table was then set for Wednesday, June 3, as follows:
Seat 1: Dan Heimiller 4,155,000
Seat 2: Jeff Oakes 1,680,000
Seat 3: Nathan Mullen 1,210,000
Seat 4: Phong Huynh 1,310,000
Seat 5: James Matz III 1,885,000
Seat 6: Steve Sung 3,395,000
Seat 7: Panayote Vilandos 1,940,000
Seat 8: Larry Sidebotham 1,500,000
Seat 9: Danny Fuhs 965,000
Event 5: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, Day 2
The event began with 809 players seeking some action-packed PLO, and that was what they received when the first day’s flurry of action reduced the field to the 81-player money mark. When the survivors of the carnage returned for Day 2, they saw Jason Mercier as the big stack and some tough players remaining in the field.
Initially, players were eliminated quickly with a guarantee of cashing for at least $2,761, but play soon slowed, and the evening looked as it may go well into the night. And it did. It wasn’t until after midnight that Greg Pappas was eliminated in 13th place, Jae Chang took 12th, and Jesse Rios took 11th. Dario Alioto also doubled through Jason Mercier to switch some chips around.
Finally, the last ten players were seated together to seek one more elimination. Chris Biondino doubled through Alex Michaels to put the latter at risk, and Michaels soon moved with , and Biondino took him on from the big blind with . The dealer carefully gave them to give Biondino the straight and leave Michaels with $15,593 for the tenth place finish.
With that, the final table was set for the next day as follows:
Seat 1: An Tran 445,000
Seat 2: Jason Mercier 384,400
Seat 3: Chris Biondino 182,000
Seat 4: Matt Giannetti 311,000
Seat 5: Kevin Iacofano 770,000
Seat 6: Jonathan Tare 639,000
Seat 7: Dario Alioto 315,000
Seat 8: Vic Park 341,000
Seat 9: Steven Burkholder 263,000
Event 6: $10,000 World Championship Seven-Card Stud, Day 2
An event like this is sure to bring out some of the biggest names in poker, and it surely did, as the majority of the 142 players being recognizable faces. The first day of action was slow, only seeing 41 eliminations throughout, but Day 2 was set up to look for the final table players.
Day 2 did begin with some bustouts to reduce the starting field of 101. Some of the casualties included Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey, Nick Schulman, Mark Seif, John Juanda and Erick Lindgren. But it wasn’t until late in the day that the finalists came into view. With only 16 to be paid, though, the money bubble needed to burst first, and that happened when Magnus Persson made his move with split sixes but Hasan Habib was there for the ride with spades and made the flush. Persson was ousted just before the money.
The in-the-money finishers included Steven Landfish in 16th place, Fu Wong in 15th, Matt Glantz in 14th, Eric Brooks in 13th, and Mel Judah in 12th, and that is where the tournament got stuck. With the time passing 3:00am, officials decided to call it with 11 players remaining and Eric Drache in the chip lead with 755,000. Hasan Habib held down second place with 593,000, but Freddie Ellis was close behind with 580,000. Max Pescatori did not report his stack, but he was still in contention, along with other big names like Daniel Negreanu, Jeff Lisandro, and Tim Phan.
Play will resume on Day 3 to play to the final table and the ultimate champion of seven-card stud.
Event 7: $1,500 NLHE, Day 1
The first $1,500 no-limit hold’em tournament of the 2009 Series began with a solid field of 2,791, which didn’t quite reach the cap of 3,000 but was a respectable number considering the $1K NLHE got more than 6,000 registrants only days earlier.
The prize pool created by the field was $3,809,715, which would be reserved for the final 297 players who outlasted the others. When the first day was done, only 337 players remained in the field, with Victor Greeley as the chip leader with 195,300 chips. The rest of the top five stacks belonged to Jerry Fowler, Gary Tang, Hyun Jung, and Jacobo Fernandez.
Other top names remaining in the field included Brandon Cantu, Alex Jacob, Lee Childs, Jim Meehan, Sorel Mizzi, Grant Hinkle, Nancy Todd Tyner, Sandra Naujoks, and Quinn Do. Players were set to return on Day 2 to play toward the money and attempt to reduce the field to a final table of nine players.
Event 8: $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball, Day 1
The late-starting tournament for the day was a professional-player favorite. No-limit 2-7 Lowball attracted some of the biggest names and most recognizable faces in the game, and the field was set at the end of the registration period with 147 players. That created a prize pool of $338,100 for the last 21 players standing.
When the first day of action was complete, only 35 players remained, leaving the money bubble and the run for the final table for Day 2. And when the chips were counted, Layne Flack held the lead with 75,125 chips, followed by Raphael Zimmerman, Yan Chen, Phil Ivey, and David Grey. Notables remaining included Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, and Tony G in the top ten, and Erick Lindgren, Daniel Alaei, Nam Le, Barry Greenstein, Eric Seidel, Freddy Deeb, John Juanda, and Vanessa Rousso still alive and looking to chip up.
Day 2 would begin at 2:00pm at the Rio, and the railbirds will undoubtedly be looking to watch some of the game’s greats take to the felt as they make their way toward the final table.