With the continuous late nights like we’ve seen at the World Series of Poker, it’s easier and easier to see why a reported 80 percent of poker players take some kind of performance enhancing drug to battle the long nights, according to a recent university study. The coffee, energy drinks, shots, or anything else most of these poker players (not to mention the media) could get their hands on was certainly flowing during the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better World Championship, which finally finished at 4:30 a.m.
This event was another example of remarkable things happening when much of the rest of the world is sleeping. The final table featured four previous bracelet winners, and nearly every name that made it to the final eight was a recognizable one. One of those names, Vladimir Shchmelev, is quickly adding his name to the list of one of the “recognizable ones.” Shchmelev made his third final table of the year, putting him barely ahead of Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi for early top candidate as WSOP Player of the Year. Remarkably, Shchmelev has made the final table in all events that are deemed “World Championship” events by the WSOP, because they have a buy-in of $10,000, or more. That accomplishment alone, three world championship final tables in one year, puts him in rarefied territory as the only man in WSOP to accomplish that feat. Making it more remarkable is that he did it just 12 days into the series.
In the official wrap-up for the event, Nolan Dalla pointed out that many news outlets have been spelling Shchmelev’s name wrong. It’s my guess if he keeps making final appearance at this clip his name will soon be as easy to spell as Brunson, Negreanu, or Ivey.
Despite Shchmelev, and the other big names including John Juanda, Jennifer Harman, Steve Zolotow, and Dario Minieri, being at the final table, it was business owner Frank Kassela who took down the championship. Generally the popular names bring out a big crowd, but because they were playing stud hi-lo, many spectators opted for a bed. According to Dalla, it is “because people have a hard time following hi-lo games, and many people don’t often know the rules.” Still, a fairly healthy gathering circled the feature table throughout the night, and early morning hours, when Frank Kassela finally outdueled Allan “Chainsaw” Kessler.
There is plenty of action for the numerous spectators to choose from today. Two final tables will take place with a winner being decided late this evening or sometime early morning. The Event #13 No Limit Holdem $1,000 tournament attracted a field of 3,042 poker players of all-levels, but the final table features some well known players. The chip leader is David Baker who cashed in four WSOP events last year, but has yet to secure his first bracelet. Also, the internet phenomenon known as the “TheWacoKidd,” Jared Hamby, comes into the final table 7th in chips.
The other final table that will end tonight is the $1,500 No Limit Holdem six-handed event. The short handed events have gained popularity the last few years, at the moment 16 remain, with Carter Phillips in the lead.
Additionally, the Limit Holdem $2,000 event has just begun and the Deuce to 7 championship event with a $10,000 buy-in, deeming it a Championship event, is set to start early evening. Finally, day two of the $5,000 No Limit holdem tournament is also underway.
Many people don’t consider Limit a popular poker game, but don’t tell that to the swarms of popular names that have signed up for that event. A quick walk through the tables shows us Jennifer Tilly, whose beau is Phil Laak did finally wake up, Sorel Mizzi, Jeff Shulman, and the very happy Los Angeles Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, whose team currently hold a 2-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Many more big names are expected to show up for this tournament, but as the WSOP live reporting section says, many won’t show up until after the first break because it’s limit, meaning there is no risk for them losing a significant part of their chips if they decide to wait a while. It’s questionable how good that is for the game, but if the rules allow them to show up late then the professionals will certainly take advantage of that.
Two days ago the WSOP announced they are adding a $200 daily deep stack tournament to begin at 1:00 p.m. every day. Many were delighted at this news, especially those that don’t have a huge bankroll but still hope to enjoy some of the WSOP experience. Additionally, many will use this tournament as a type of satellite, meaning if they win anything, they will then try their luck at one of the bracelet events.
However, for as many people excited about the news, there is at least an equal amount that is confused. One of the main reasons there is confusion is because it seems that Harrah’s, the company that owns the Rio, is competing with itself. The reason is because another Harrah’s property, Caesars, is currently holding their annual “Mega Stacks” series, which has always been seen as the cheaper alternative to the WSOP. However, the structure of the new tournament at the WSOP compares favorably to the “Mega Stacks” structure, meaning despite just announcing the event, it might be better in the eyes of many instead of the event they’ve been running for years over at Caesars. While they may not be losing any money on the proposition, they are certainly drawing people away from the already established tournament series, which can’t be good for business.
Additionally, a number of poker players seem to think that the $200 WSOP daily tournaments will keep people from playing the bracelet tournaments, meaning there would be less dead money in them. Instead of forking over $1,000 bucks for one of the six events of that buy-in the WSOP will have this year, people will instead just take one or two shots at the $200 daily tournament. If they don’t win anything they will mostly go home. Sure, as mentioned, those who win money will most likely give a bigger tournament a shot, but when you consider only 10% of people cash in tournaments, that’s 90% who will most likely not play in it since they couldn’t “satellite” in to it from a smaller one. Only time will tell if the daily will have a negative impact on the number of entrants in the $1,000 events, but on the surface these seem like valid concerns.