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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP 2010 | WSOP Tournaments

WSOP Day 31: Tournament of Champions Captures Attention

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As the preliminary events wind down over the coming week, the sometimes-slower pace is a welcome reprieve for most. However, there is nary a day that the Rio is completely void of activity until the 2010 World Series of Poker wraps in mid-July. And although the events slowed down on Day 31, the Tournament of Champions stepped in to increase the excitement factor.

The day started with the second starting flight for the $1K NLHE tournament. The fifth of six low buy-in events brought its Day 1B starters to the tables at noon to fill the Pavilion Ballroom. Later in the afternoon, the $2,500 8-game mix resumed for Day 2 of action, though even that was postponed until later in the day to accommodate players who were also participating in the Tournament of Champions. There were also two tournaments hitting their Day 3 stride, though both the $1,500 NLHE and $5K PLO-8 had a significant number of eliminations to find before reaching their final tables, and both events looked to run deep into the nighttime hours.

But overshadowing it all was the Tournament of Champions (TOC). The 27 players took their seats at the three featured tables in the Amazon Room at noon, and the sheer publicity surrounding the tournament brought a great number of railbirds to the room. They flitted back and forth to each table to take photos and watch some of the best players in the world compete for the $1 million freeroll. They also waited for breaks in the action in the hopes of getting autographs or pictures with their favorite poker pros. It reminded many of the exhausted media members of the reasons for creating the coverage - the fans.

Though there wasn’t a tremendous amount of action on Day 31, what was happening was some of the best of what the WSOP has to offer. To find out how it played out through the day, check out the recaps below.

Event 45: Day 3, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em

One of the largest turnouts for an event this summer was for the $1,500 NLHE tournament toward the end of the Series. The sizable field included 3,097 players and created a $4,180,950 prize pool. Day 1 took the field to about 400 players, though it was on Day 2 that they burst the money bubble so the final 324 players could be paid. But as they strove to play down to the final table, it became tougher and the night ended with 34 players still in the running. Day 3 brought them back, with Sam Trickett in the chip lead with 922K, to play down to the final table and on through to the winner, who would ultimately pick up $721,373 to go with the gold WSOP bracelet.

Event 46: Day 3, $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

The last PLO-8 opportunity of the 2010 Series presented itself with Event 46, and the $5K buy-in brought a total of 284 players to the tables. The subsequent prize pool of $1,334,800 was enough to pay the top 27 finishers but reserve $327,040 for the ultimate winner. The 5:00pm start on Day 1 whittled the field down to 130 players, and it was into Day 2 - in the very late hours - that the bubble burst to find Vladimir Shchemelev out in 28th place and the rest of the players in the cash. The night ended with 21 players, all of whom returned on Day 3 to play to the final table and on to the winner’s circle for one last player. All of the action will be chronicled in a separate article upon the event’s completion.

Event 47: Day 1B, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em

Listed as the only event starting on Sunday, the $1K NLHE technically began the day before but offered a second starting day. As the fifth of six such events this Series, the chances to play the cheapest NLHE events were dwindling, and this weekend provided a solid opportunity for players of all skill levels to take a crack at one of the few bracelets remaining before the start of the Main Event.

Day 1A attracted 1,759 players, but the prize pool couldn’t be determined until the Day 1B field was determined. Late into the afternoon of the second starting day, the final numbers were released to show that 1,369 players came out for Day 1B of the tournament, making the total number 3,128 and the total prize pool $2,815,200. There would be 324 payouts made when the event finished, though the winner would walk away with $485,791.

As play got underway, some of the competitors found themselves on the rail early, including Liv Boeree, David Chicotsky, Ari Engel, Beth Shak, Dan Heimiller, Gavin Smith, Marco Traniello, Layne Flack, Humberto Brenes, Phil Ivey, Maria Mayrinck, and Jason Mercier. The very end of the night brought bags to the players with chips, and the one with the most was Benjamin Klier with 65,675 chips. Second place was held up by Richard Ferro with 64,375, and the top five was rounded out with Olivier Busquet, Scott Dorin, and Thomas Symonds. With those numbers tallied, it seemed that the Day 1A chip leader, Chernykh Moscow, took it all with 75,150 chips.

All of the remaining players from both days, which looked to be about 476, were asked to return to the Rio on Monday, June 28, to play quickly into the money and move forward toward the final table.

Event 48: Day 2, $2,500 Mixed Event

Players who relish in the opportunity to mix up their games in the most extreme fashion received one last tournament to offer such a chance. The $2,500 mixed event boasted of 8 games in the rotation - limit holdem, Omaha-8, seven-card razz, seven-card stud, stud-8, no-limit holdem, PLO, and deuce to 7 triple draw lowball. High action was the name of the game(s), and that was going to make for an exciting event with big names and interesting table lineups.

There were 453 entries for the event, which made for a $1,041,900 prize pool. Day 1 took that field down to a more subdued number of 192 players who were able to make it through the day with Jarred Jaffe in the chip lead. Day 2 brought those 192 players back to play down into the money so the last 48 finishers could get paid, though all clearly had their eye on the $260,497 first place prize.

Early eliminations, well before the money bubble, included names like Scott Clements, Dan O’Brien, Marc Hodge, Hasan Habib, Bryan Micon, Marco Traniello, and Joe Serock. Later in the evening, the bubble finally approached, and it was during a razz hand that Steve Billirakis moved all-in and came up with 4-6-5-A-A-9-A against the 8-6-7-6-5-4-9 of Bill Chen. That left the last 48 players to cash, and the first to do so was Chris Ferguson, who took home $4,573 for the 48th place finish. Other notables who cashed as the night progressed were Jason Potter, Andrew Robl, Vitaly Lunkin, Frank Kassela, Dario Alioto, Michael Mizrachi, and David Singer.

The night ended with 20 players still in the race and Nikolai Yakovenko in the lead with 310K chips. In second place was Matt Vengrin with 276,600 chips, followed by Adam Spiegelberg, Jesse Martin, and Kirk Morrison to round out the top five.

The last 20 players would return on Monday, June 28, to play to and through the final table.

Special Event: Day 1, $1 Million Tournament of Champions

This was clearly the most popular event of the day. Other tournaments moved along with a few select fans at each, but the three TOC tables brought hoards of fans to the rail. The 27-person championship freeroll was split into three tables, one using the ESPN stage area and the other two being hosted on the side feature tables on either end of the Amazon Room. The fans and their cameras and autograph items were ready, and most of the players seemed excited to oblige in addition to providing some table talk for entertainment purposes.

Each of the players earned their way into the $1 million freeroll via their own processes, and they gathered on Day 1 to play four levels of NLHE. Day 2 was set to move the field toward the final table, which was scheduled to resume and play out on July 4. And it was only at the final table that money awaited those finishers, as fourth through ninth would receive $25K, third $100K, second $250K, and first place $500K. But no money was yet in play as they took their seats on the first day.

Players were given 30K in chips each, and the lineup of players was as follows:

Table 1 - Joe Hachem, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, T.J. Cloutier, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Scotty Nguyen, Annie Duke, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari

Table 2 - Huck Seed, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman, Joe Cada, Erik Seidel, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Johnny Chan, Andrew Barton

Table 3 - Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Mike Sexton, Phil Hellmuth, Dan Harrington, Barry Greenstein, Barry Shulman, Sam Farha, Greg Raymer

The three who took their time arriving at the tournament were Huck Seed, Howard Lederer, and Phil Hellmuth, all of whom eventually strolled in quite late, though the reasonable starting blinds allowed it. But they all eventually arrived.

Juanda was the first to be eliminated from the event, courtesy of Harman. A bit later, Cunningham took out Shulman, Greenstein busted Farha, Ferguson got rid of Ivey, and Matusow sent Raymer out. When the day was done and chips were counted, it was Erik Seidel in the lead with 72,075 chips, followed by Johnny Chan with 71,325. The rest of the top five were Mike Matusow, Barry Greenstein, and Joe Hachem.

Day 2 was set to get underway on Monday, June 28, with four more levels scheduled to be played, beginning at noon.

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