As we have barely passed the midway point of the 2009 World Series of Poker, it couldn’t be more obvious at the Rio. It was virtually empty on media row on Sunday, June 21, as members of the writing staffs decided to give themselves a much-needed day off. The fans were sparse, the parking lot boasted of rare empty spaces, and even the cash game tables were relatively quiet.
It was the $5K shootout that looked to bring in a solid field, but it seems that many players have chosen to take their Sunday off to either relax or play some online poker in an attempt to win a seat into the $10K main event. What the WSOP thought would be a capped field had a difficult time filling up, and there was even an issue getting the tournament started on time due to the slow trickle of players just after the original noon starting time.
Clearly, players and media alike are finding that they are exhausted and trying to find that second wind to carry them through the rest of the Series. But despite the coma that we’re all trying to stave off, here is a look at the four events still in their preliminary stages today.
Event 39: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em, Day 2
One of the largest tournaments thus far at the 2009 WSOP, the low limit buy-in NLHE event brought 2,715 players to the tables, which made for a $3,705,975 prize pool. Included in that was an impressive first place prize of $657,969, but the bigger picture included 270 players cashing in the event. That did not happen on Day 1, however, because 327 of them were still seated at the end of play.
Day 2 began with those 327 and a rather quick playdown toward the money. Only a few hours into play, the bubble neared with 274 players remaining, and hand-for-hand play was implemented. Soon after, two players left in the same hand but at different tables. Dennis Sargent was all-in against two players preflop, and when the board came A-A-10-J-2, Tristan Wade showed a pair of jacks, and Sargent’s pair of deuces ousted him from the tournament. And Tom West was also all-in with A-K against the J-10 of his opponent. When the board produced 9-4-10-Q-9, West was gone as well. That left the last 270 players in the money, and Yueqi Zhu became the first to cash for $2,890 in 270th place.
Play resumed in an effort to play toward the final table, and it became clear as midnight passed with 45 players still in the game that the task may not be accomplished. When play finally stopped at the mandatory 3:00am cutoff time, there were 26 players left, and that would be where the action would resume on Day 3. Michele Iacavone claimed to have the chip lead with 1,605,200 chips, Ray Foley looked to be in second place with 1,302,000, and Joe Bartholdi counted 1,040,000 in his stacks. Other notables in the field included Alex Jacob, Ray Davis, Nam Le, Brandon Cantu, and Shawn Glines.
Event 40: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship, Day 2
The PLO championship event drew a sizable crowd, more than many of the other non no-limit hold’em $10K events. The 295-player field was impressive not just by the numbers but by the many recognizable poker faces in the crowd. The prize pool was $2,773,000 with $679,402 reserved for the winner, but only 27 players in total would cash in the event. As expected, the first day of action did not come close to that number and closed with 116 players still holding chips.
Day 2 was a slow one, and it was well past midnight by the time the money bubble even neared. Technically, it was rather close to the 3:00am cutoff time when hand-for-hand was implemented after the elimination of Ernst Schmejkal in 29th place. And it turned out to be the multi-tournament player Nam Le, who was running back and forth from this event to Event 39. He pushed the last of his chips all-in from the big blind with , but Stefan Mattsson called with . The dealer gave them , and Le was ousted in 28th place on the money bubble.
Without much play left for the night, there were only two bustouts. Josh Arieh took the opportunity to let Erick Lindgren go in 27th place, which was worth $25,817, and Jonas Entin was gone in 26th place to end the action. When the chips were counted, Noah Schwartz was in the lead with 1,220,000 chips, and none of the other players were even close. The next on the leaderboard was Marcus Golser with 621K, and Robin Keston followed with 606K. But the field was still filled with other notables as well, including Padraig Parkinson, Josh Arieh, Van Marcus, Howard Lederer, Vitaly Lunkin, Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, David Williams, and Nenad Medic, all of whom would return on Day 3 in an attempt to play down to the final table and the ultimate winner.
Event 41: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout, Day 1
Shootouts are one of the favorites of players at the World Series, as sit-n-go’s have become immensely popular over the past decade, most prominently in the online poker community. Their popularity in tournament series comes from the odds; beat nine opponents on one table and advance into the money, at which point a second win of the second table guarantees a seat at the final table. Though it sounds simpler than it is, it is no less appealing to players. Subsequently, most shootout tournaments sell out, but this was different due to its $5K buy-in. Players were slow to arrive, and though it looked as if it would be a very disappointing outcome, the final number came to 280 and the prize pool to $1,316,000.
Each ten-handed table played out as a sit-n-go, with only the winner from each table moving on to Day 2 action. And each of the 30 winners would all be in the money as well, being guaranteed $16,740 for making it to the second of three rounds. The first player to get through was Ryan Hughes, and he was followed by Lex Veldhuis, Maxim Lykov, and Neil Channing. Others who made their tables later in the day were David Pham, John Monnette, Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, Danny Wong, and Peter Feldman.
All players were set to return on Monday for Day 2 action, each with 15,000 in chips. It was reported that there will be five six-handed tables, and the five winners from that round will be set for the final table on the last day of play.
Event 42: $2,500 8-Game Mixed, Day 1
Another highly anticipated event on the schedule was the $2,500 mixed game tournament. While some other events have been finding fewer players than hoped for, this one exceeded expectations with 412 players looking to show that they are the masters of all eight games included in the tournament - limit hold’em, Omaha-8, seven-card razz, seven-card stud, seven-card stud-8, no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and 2-7 triple draw lowball. The resulting prize pool was $947,600, with 40 places in the money and $241,637 reserved for the winner.
The field was stacked with almost every recognizable face in the game, and when the first day of action came to a close, there were still 153 remaining. The chip count list read like a who’s who of poker, with Amnon Filippi sitting in the top spot with 90K in chips, followed by Steve Billirakis in second holding on to a 59,275-chip stack. Andrew Black, Nik Frangos, and Thayer Rasmussen rounded out the top five. Day 2 was set for Monday, June 22, for the attempt to play into the money and on toward the final table.