Today At The 2011 WSOP, Day 39: Championship Event Begins As Final Two Preliminary Tournaments Go Into Overtime


While the 2011 World Series of Poker Championship Event kicked off its first of four Day Ones on Thursday, the two remaining preliminary tournaments on the schedule could not wrap up their proceedings. When Day 1B of the Championship Event begins this afternoon, there will still be two bracelets to hand out with no Canadians, unfortunately, in the mix.

Event #56 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em – Final Day (Suspended)

Gavin Smith Eliminated in 12th Place ($46,209)
Gavin Smith Eliminated in 12th Place ($46,209)

It would be an audacious task – to finish the tournament – for Event #56 on Thursday. 45 men came back to the tables to attempt to work down to the champion. When play was stopped by the WSOP Ten Round Rule early Friday morning, three men were left in contention for the championship.

Guelph’s Gavin Smith led the field to the felt on Thursday afternoon, with Thornhill’s Mark Zajdner and Toronto’s Yoon Jun Park back in the pack. None of the three men were able to make the final table, as Mark dropped out of the tournament in 27th place and Yoon eliminated in sixteenth place.

Gavin would start the day well but would run into difficulties as play wore on. He had a key hand against Rayan Nathan, who was all in, delayed by another player, James Boyle, who was debating his alcohol bill with a server and hadn’t looked at his cards. After a heated discussion between the table and Boyle, he eventually told the table if they didn’t like what he was doing to call the clock on him. They did and, after a long delay, Boyle looked once and mucked his cards.

The hand, which featured Nathan’s pocket tens up against Gavin’s pocket Aces, took a turn for the worse when a ten came on the flop. Once no Ace appeared on the turn or river, a disgruntled Gavin was knocked down to 350K in chips and irate over Boyle’s delay. Gavin never recovered from either situation, finishing the tournament in twelfth place.

With no Canadians remaining in the tournament, we’ll fast forward to the suspension of the tournament. Three men – Sweden’s Hasan Anter and Americans Nemer Haddad and Andy Philachack – will pick up the tournament on Friday afternoon and play until someone has all the chips. The WSOP bracelet and $777,928 await the eventual winner.

Event #57 – $5000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo – Final Day (Suspended)

Nick Binger is the Chip Leader Going into the Final Day
Nick Binger is the Chip Leader Going into the Final Day

25 men came back for the final day of Event #57, with Nick Shulman heading the leaderboard and no Canadians in contention for the title. This tournament would also fall victim to the WSOP Ten Round Rule, leaving two players to come back today for some extra play.

The final table had some recognizable names, with Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler ending the tournament in ninth place, Shulman dropping out in seventh and Phil “The Unabomber” Laak sticking around the tournament until he was kicked out in fourth place. The two men who will come back today for the extra session – chip leader Nick Binger and former $50K Poker Players Championship victor David Bach – are top professionals who will battle tooth and nail for the final preliminary event win of the 2011 WSOP. The eventual champion will take the WSOP bracelet and a payday of $397,073.

Event #58 – $10,000 Championship Event – Day 1A

Although there were two bracelet events going on, dominant attention of many in the Rio on Thursday was the start of the Championship Event. At noon on Thursday, none other than the “Godfather of Poker,” Doyle Brunson, kicked off the festivities with the traditional call to “shuffle up and deal!”

Day 1A would eventually end up with a field of 897 players, a number that you will see go up in subsequent Day Ones. Across the tables, top pros vied with amateurs in pursuit of what had become the benchmark of tournament poker success – the World Series of Poker Championship Event bracelet.

Doyle Brunson Kicks off the Festivities with the traditional call to "Shuffle up and deal!"
Doyle Brunson Kicks off the Festivities with the traditional call to "Shuffle up and deal!"

There were several Canadians who decided to make Day 1A their start day. Pat Pezzin, Evelyn Ng and Scott Montgomery were just some of the top Canadian players in the field, joined by fellow pros Doyle Brunson, Annette Obrestad, Greg Raymer, Barry Schulman and Johnny Chan. Obrestad, Chan and Pezzin will move on in the tournament, but Ng, Montgomery, Brunson, Raymer, and Schulman will join other notables Jerry Yang, Chip Jett, Vanessa Selbst and Tom Schneider on the rail.

The Day 1A chip leader (for what that is worth) looks to be Fred Berger, who has been able to amass 209,500 in chips to this point. The highest ranking Canadian at this time is Burnaby’s Tri Hyunh, who has worked up to 113,450 in chips for 24th place. Tri is joined by fellow Canadians Sasa Stancic, Sean Grover, Henry Strasser and Philippe Bouchard in the Top 100.

By the end of the action on Thursday, 556 players were remaining in the tournament. Extrapolating out the average increase in Day One play through the four day period, WSOP officials have estimated that the field will be 5276 players, although the final two Day Ones will probably push us way beyond that mark.

When Will Some Canadian Pros Play The Championship Event?

With three other Day Ones to go, some of Canada’s best have started reporting which day they will start. Mike “Timex” McDonald Tweeted to his followers, “Playing my first WSOP main event tomorrow,” early this morning (it is thought that he means Saturday). Two time WSOP bracelet winner Greg Mueller Tweeted, “It’s WSOP Main event time! 4 starting days, I usually play day 1A but this year imma play day 1D so Sunday it starts for the KID.”

Daniel Negreanu has yet to decide when he wants to play the Championship Event, Tweeting, “For those asking, I’m still undecided what Day 1 I’ll be playing. It’s either 1C or 1D depending how I feel that day.” Two of last year’s star Canadian players, defending champion Jonathan Duhamel and 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Matt Jarvis, have yet to declare their start days for the Championship Event.

With a long weekend of Day Ones ahead of us – as well as the conclusion of the last two preliminary tournaments – it should be a busy weekend of poker at the 2011 WSOP!

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Earl Burton
Earl Burton is a veteran journalist in the poker industry, having covered the game since 2004. He has played the game much longer, however, starting out playing in family games at a very early age. He has covered tournaments across the United States, including the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and various charitable events. Earl’s background includes writing for some of the top poker news sites in the industry as well as other poker media outlets that include Poker Player Newspaper and Canadian Poker Player Magazine. Earl keeps an unblinking eye on the poker world, offering coverage of news from the industry, tournament action, player interviews, strategy and his opinions on the game. Whenever possible, Earl will also step to the tables to demonstrate that there’s more than just writing talent behind his poker game!


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