Still midway through the 2009 World Series of Poker, another relatively light day was in store. With the obligatory no-limit hold’em tournament in progress and a limit hold’em event in its first stage, all eyes were on a small tournament attempting to play down to its elite final table. The stud championship event was the one with the heavy rail and media presence.
As the day played on, it became apparent that the major stories of the day still lay with the stud players, as Doyle Brunson looked to make a run at his 11th bracelet and Frank Mariani of L.A. Lakers fame was looking for a poker victory of his own. The stories were there to be written and would play out the following day.
While the limit and no-limit events had tales to tell of their own, the lack of big names in the fields sadly relegated them to the sidelines. But every player in those events had the potential to make their own headlines, and each event and ultimate winner is important in their own right. Therefore, an overview of all three preliminary days ensues.
Event 36: $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em, Day 2
The tournament began on Thursday, June 18, with 1,695 players competing for the $3,084,900 prize pool, but the first day was more about pure survival as it became clear the money wouldn’t be reached until Day 2. While it was certain that everyone had the WSOP bracelet and $586,212 first prize in mind, the first hump would be to pass the money and be one of the last 171 players standing.
That happened soon into Day 2, and when the field thinned from 213 to 172, hand-for-hand play kicked in. It was during that time that Chino Rheem doubled through Bryan Paris to stay alive, but then there were two bustouts in the same hand to push everyone else into the money. Balazs Botond made his all-in move with K-Q but Phil Sparta woke up with aces and called. The board came 9-10-3-6-Q to eliminate Botond, which would have eliminated him with no money reward if not for the corresponding elimination of Chance Kornuth in the same hand. Therefore, Botond and Kornuth split 171st place money and each went home with $2,005. After that, Robin Rightmire became the first player to take home 170th place prize money of $4,010, and the eliminations continued after that.
Late into the night, it was quite obvious that the field would not reach the final table of nine, so the mandatory 3:00am cut-off time was implemented. Ken Yates became the last elimination of the night when his ran into the pocket eights of Jonathan Plens and the board blanked. Yates cashed for $21,008, and the last 17 players standing bagged their chips and prepared to come back for Day 3 with Steven Tabb and his stack of 1,086,000 in the chip lead. Andrew Seden held up second place with 995,000, and Warren Woodall, Pat Atchison, and Andrew White rounded out the top five.
All of the 17 players were set to return on Saturday, June 20, to play down to the final table and on to the winner’s circle.
Event 37: $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better World Championship, Day 2
As with most $10,000 buy-in championship events, this stud tournament was an amazing one to watch. The poker media was able to name almost every player by sight, and poker fans lined the rail to catch glimpses of some of the most famous names in poker. The 164-player field was a star-studded one, not to mention a slow one, as a $1,541,600 prize pool was on the line to be split amongst only the top 16 finishers. Day 1 was predictably slow, with only 110 players making it through.
Day 2 moved along at a bit of a quicker pace, but it wasn’t until late into the night that the bubble even neared. Finally, after some cautious play, it was the first day’s chipleader, Tuan Le, who got involved with Mike Wattel and left in 18th place to send the rest of the players into hand-for-hand. Soon after, it was Joe Tehan who took to a hand with Yan Chen and Farzad Rouhani that put Tehan all-in on fifth street. Tehan showed , but the winning hand went to Chen whose completed hand showed pairs of queens and nines for the win. Tehan mucked the rest of his cards and left in 17th place with no money.
The last 16 players redrew and were seated at two tables, after which Claudio Rinaldi went out in 16th place, Dan Heimiller tripled up but then busted in 15th, and Richard Anthony left in 14th. Finally, the last elimination of the day came when Yuval Bronshtein was all-in on third street against Abe Mosseri’s ()(). Bronshtein showed ()() and accepted $28,272 for 13th place.
The last 12 players standing were set to return on Saturday to play down to the final table and the winner, with chip counts as follows:
Abe Mosseri 950,000
Jeff Lisandro 786,000
Doyle Brunson 525,000
Farzad Rouhani 494,000
Yan Chen 476,000
Perry Friedman 378,000
Lyle Berman 333,000
Scotty Nguyen 298,000
Frank Mariani 267,000
Justin Smith 237,000
Mike Wattel 96,000
Anthony Rivera 92,000
Event 38: $2,000 Limit Hold’em, Day 1
The limit hold’em tournament was the only starting event of the day, and it brought 446 players to the tables. The prize pool was a modest $811,720, and only the top 45 players would receive any of it, though the winner would take home a substantial amount of $190,770.
Play went into the late hours of the evening and finished with 107 players still in the field, as the first days of limit hold’em give a lot of play and room for players to prolong their stays. But going into Day 2, they would look to hit the money and pursue spots at the final table. David Baker ended his day with 72,100 and the chip lead, and Jeff Wagner followed him with 59,200 in second place. The rest of the top five included Simen Sagstuen, Tommy Hang, and Soheil Shamseddin.