Technically, it wasn’t the weekend yet. But considering the holiday weekend was just around the corner and there was a $1K NLHE tournament, signature event of the 2010 WSOP weekends, it seemed fitting to call it the start to the weekend.
Only a few days remained until the WSOP Main Event. The preliminary events were winding down. There were two starting events but only one final table. While the Rio remained abuzz with poker players and fans, many in the poker media were desperately seeking a day or two off and a few moments of rest before the big dance began.
The first starting event was a major one, the last $1K NLHE tournament of the entire WSOP, and the field was massive for only the first of two starting days. The second event looked to draw a smaller crowd as a select crowd gathered to vie for the $10K PLO championship. A few hours into the day, the $3K triple chance NLHE tournament gathered to play to and through its final table. And the $25K NLHE 6-max and $1,500 LHE shootout were both in their second days. With only a few bracelets left to be awarded, there was a sense of urgency but also a glimmer of hope and excitement in more than a few players’ eyes.
Action kicked off at noon on Thursday, July 1 in both major ballrooms at the Rio, and the action continued late into the night as the quest for bracelets continued.
Event 51: Day 3, $3,000 Triple Chance No-Limit Hold’em
The idea of a triple chance tournament was simply a version of the rebuy that didn’t allow more than one buy-in but a different distribution of the chips. And that, plus the $3K NLHE idea, brought 854 players to the tournament to create a $2,663,400 prize pool. Day 1 of the tournament thinned the field to only 189 players, and Day 2 moved them into the money so the top 90 finishers could be paid. Ultimately, though, everyone with the first place prize of $559,371 in mind, they played until only a dozen competitors were still seated, and they wrapped for the day with Jon Eaton in the chip lead. Those 12 players returned on July 1 to play down to the final table and through until only one player remained.
Event 52: Day 2, $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed
It was the biggest buy-in of the 2010 WSOP outside of the $50K Poker Player’s Championship that was held at the beginning of the Series. With a very prohibitive $25K buy-in, the last six-handed NLHE tournament of the summer was set up to attract the high rollers, satellite winners, and perhaps other 2010 bracelet winners looking to double up. The field was almost guaranteed to be a predominantly elite one, and it was exciting to say the least.
Day 1 began the tournament with 191 players, which seemed to be a somewhat smaller number than expected but still produced a $4,536,250 prize pool. That substantial number was only going to allow the top 18 players to be paid but hand over $1,315,518 to the winner. Those were impressive numbers in any scenario. By the end of Day 1, only 78 players remained.
Day 2 started with those 78 players and faced the tough task of hitting the money bubble and attempting to play down to the final table. Those who didn’t survive the first few levels of the day included Anthony Gargano, Phil Galfond, Andrew Feldman, Zachary Clark, Isaac Baron, and Ivan Demidov. It wasn’t until the very end of the night that the money bubble burst, and it happened when John Juanda was first crippled by Mikael Thuritz, then pushed all-in with and received calls from Brian Hodhod and Martins Adeniya. After the board, Hodhod bet Adeniya out of the pot, and Hodhod showed for top pair. Juanda left on the bubble, and play ended with the final 18 players holding chip stacks as follows:
|Bryn Kenney ||2,425,000 |
|Brian Hodhod ||1,484,000 |
|Sam Trickett ||1,123,000 |
|Abe Mosseri ||1,035,000 |
|Frank Kassela ||978,000 |
|Daniel Negreanu ||860,000 |
|Jason Somerville ||859,000 |
|Isaac Haxton ||835,000 |
|Shawn Buchanan || 772,000 |
|Eugene Katchalov ||600,000 |
|Justin Bonomo ||576,000 |
|Martins Adeniya ||549,000 |
|Carlos Mortensen ||484,000 |
|Vadim Trincher ||425,000 |
|Mikael Thuritz ||388,000 |
|Heather Sue Mercer ||349,000 |
|Billy Jordanou ||335,000 |
|Dan Kelly ||260,000 |
Those players were asked to return to the Rio to play to and through the final table on Friday, July 2.
Event 53: Day 2, $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout
Shootout tournaments continue to appeal to more and more poker players, especially the online crowd who play so many sit n go events that they feel very confident about their single-table games. Limit holdem has its own appeal as well, so with that added to the shootout format and a reasonable $1,500 buy-in, as well as its placement toward the end of the WSOP schedule of opportunities, there was not much chance this tournament would see anything but a solid turnout.
Day 1 brought on the start of the event at 5:00pm and ended registration with 548 entries, which translated into a $739,800 prize pool. The pool was to be split among the top 64 players, though the winner looked to take home $184,950 of that money. Day 1 whittled the field down to 64 players, all of whom won their first tables and were able to advance into the money.
Day 2 requested those players return to the Rio to play one more round. All players were guaranteed $4,135 for their advancement to Round 2, but winning one more table guaranteed them a place at the final table. The first exit of the day was actually a disqualification, as Full Tilt Pro Yueqi Zhu, one of the finalists, won his table the night before by making a deal with the other player in his heads-up match. The tournament staff then disqualified him overnight, after which Zhu did issue an apology via the live tournament reporting team.
The afternoon moved forward as players tried to stay alive and win their tables, but it wasn’t until after the dinner break that the first finalist was found as Joseph McGowan defeated Robert Beveridge to move on. Sijbrand Maal was the next to move forward, and in only a relatively short time after, all of the tables had been decided. With all players set to come back the following day with 450K chips, the final table would consist of the following competitors:
Play would resume on July 2 as the final table played to determine the event’s winner.
Event 54: Day 1, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em
It was the last of the $1K NLHE tournaments of the 2010 Series. The sixth of six gave players coming into town for poker fun or holiday getaways to enter a WSOP tournament for the low, bargain basement price of $1,000. And knowing that it was their last opportunity before the $10,000 Main Event drew players to the Rio in droves. With few excuses not to play, the tournament staff planned for and accommodated the very large field.
When the numbers were released, registration showed 2,340 players who signed up for Day 1A of the event, though the clock mentioned different numbers because of the preregistrations for the upcoming second starting day. But an interesting note from the live reporters mentioned that the average bustout rate of players for the day was 4.46 of them per minute, as the first 280 minutes saw 1,250 players hit the rail. Some of the names included in that group were Jennifer Tilly, Marco Traniello, Tom Dwan, Eric Baldwin, Faraz Jaka, Dennis Phillips, and Tiffany Michelle.
Play was halted before the end of Level 9 because so many players had been eliminated throughout the day, and the 15 percent rule went into effect. So as not to thin the field too much before Day 1B players had their chance, the staff cut it off early. The end of the day’s chip counts were not precise but showed approximately 350 players still in their seats. And at the top of the leaderboard was James Dempsey with 144,100 chips, followed by Tommaso Briotti with 77,350.
Friday was set to bring on the Day 1B players, while the Day 1A finishers took the day off to enjoy Las Vegas.
Event 55: Day 1, $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship
This little tournament snuck through the cracks, as this writer missed it on previous reports when saying that there were no more championships before the Main Event or PLO chances. Oops. Not only did I miss it, but *it* was a big one…an actual championship tournament…with a $10K buy-in. The PLO championship was on tap for this Thursday night, allowing players their truly last chance for a big title and strong field before the preliminaries truly end. So, there you have it. Event 55.
The final numbers showed 346 players in the tournament and a total prize pool of $3,252,400. Out of that amount, the top 36 players would get paid, and the very last player standing was set to take home $780,599. Though there were plenty of chips in play in the 5:00pm starting event, it didn’t take long for some players to hit the road, among them Peter Jetten, David Williams, Chad Brown, Kevin MacPhee, and Mike Matusow.
When play ended for the night, there were 171 players still holding chips, and the leader of the large pack was Anthony Paino with 240K chips. Second place on the board was Dmitry Stelmak with 226K, followed by James Akenhead, Felix Gubitz, and Mikhail Smirnov.
The players were asked to return to the Rio at 3:00pm on Friday, July 2, to play into the money and closer to the final table.