Although the plan on Saturday was for two bracelets to be awarded at this year’s World Series of Poker, only one of the two tournaments was actually able to reach a conclusion, with the second, delayed final table causing some commotion amongst those on social media platforms.
Event #4 – $5000 No Limit Hold’em – Final (?) Day
What was supposed to have been the final day of the $5000 No Limit Hold’em event brought the 42 survivors back for action on Saturday afternoon. Simon Charette (9th) and Sean LeFort (24th) carried the Canadian flag into the action, but it was the lone female in the field that made the most noise as Day Three played out.
Maria Ho, who has quietly become one of the most solid players in the game, began Saturday at the very bottom of the leader board in 41st place. She was undaunted, however, commenting over her Facebook account, “Made day 3 of event #4- $5,000 buy-in No Limit Hold ’em at the World Series of Poker with 42 players remaining. I would love to add that bracelet to my jewelry collection!” Little did she know how prophetic her statement would prove to be.A
Maria – who most would recognize due to her stint alongside good friend Tiffany Michelle on television’s “The Amazing Race” – went on the attack throughout the day, gradually building her stack from life support to threatening other players. While Ho was on her run, Charette would be eliminated from the tournament in sixteenth place.
There was some controversy as the players approached the final table. Under WSOP mandate, the maximum number of levels that can be played in an event during a given day is 10 (hence, the 10 Level Rule), but the players wanted to stop the tournament once the final nine were determined to allow the players to get some rest (the tournament had already been altered from a three day format to four). WSOP officials, however, stated that the entirety of the ten levels would be played. This caused those in search of the $874,116 first place prize a great deal of consternation.
The final nine players were determined around 11PM (Pacific Time) and the players reluctantly went about the task of determining the champion. Allen Bari had surged to the lead at this point, with LeFort in the mix and the stunning run of Ho putting her in contention for the championship and earning her the honor of being the first woman to make a final table at the 2011 WSOP. Over the span of the next four hours, the final nine would be whittled down to the Final Four, who will come back on Sunday at 2:30PM to settle the deal.
Bari has a commanding lead over the remainder of the field, with his 9.125 million chips crushing the other three contenders. LeFort (1.42 million), Nicholas Blumenthal (1.25 million) and Ho (1.2 million) have some work to do to derail Bari.
Several notables in the world of poker have commented on these “delayed” final tables, with Jonathan Aguiar stating on Twitter, “The handling of the 5k final table is just so wrong, it’s like stopping a UFC fight in the 2nd rd and fighting the 3rd the next day,” while WPT reporter Jess Welman noted to Aguiar, “None of the players seemed particularly upset about ending play from what I could tell.”
This will probably not be the last time we see a “delayed” final table during the run of the 2011 WSOP, and we will have to see how WSOP officials will handle such an event in the future.
Event #5 – $1500 Seven Card Stud – Final Day
Twelve men returned to the felt on Saturday afternoon to determine the champion of Event #7 without a Canadian in the mix. In fact, it was an all-American affair, save for the chip leader, Italy’s Allesio Isaia, The players wasted little time in determining the eight handed final table, eliminating four players within one hour of play.
At the start of the final table Eric Buchman, a WSOP bracelet holder and the fourth place finisher at the 2009 WSOP Main Event, held a significant lead over Jonathan Spinks and Isaia, but lurking in the middle of the pack was the dangerous Eugene Katchalov. Katchalov, who won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 Super High Roller event earlier this year over Daniel Negreanu, went on the offensive from the start of the final table, eventually working his way into the chip lead.
When play reached the mid-point of the final table, however, Katchalov had lost the chip lead to Buchman and was in danger of being ejected from the tournament. Down to just three big bets at one point, Eugene went on a rush and surged through the remainder of the field. After Isaia eliminated Buchman in third place, he held a commanding 5.5-1 chip lead over Katchalov. Undaunted, Katchalov continued his stirring comeback by grinding his way into Isaia’s chip stack, taking the lead after a half-hour of heads up play. He would ride that rush all the way to the championship, taking home his first WSOP bracelet and the $122,909 first place prize.
Event #6 – $1500 Limit Hold’em – Day 2
When play begins on Sunday, 17 men remain from the 675 player field to determine the champion of the $1500 Limit Hold’em tournament. None of those players are Canadians, however, as James Meek and Albert Ngi fell out short of the money and Daniel Idema was eliminated in 23rd place.
Holding the chip lead in the tournament is William Davis, with notable names such as Scott Clements and John Myung in the middle of the pack. The big story, however, is the run of the defending champion of the event, Matt Matros. Matt currently sits on a 153K chip stack in eleventh place and, considering his expertise in Limit events, has to be considered a solid bet to make it, at the minimum, to the final table.
The bracelet will be awarded during play on Sunday, with the champion taking home a solid payday of $205,065.
Event #7 – $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship – Day 2
Sunday is the day that the 27 remaining players from Day 2 action will return to determine the unofficial “World Champion” of Pot Limit Hold’em. Canada’s Owen Crowe and Jennifer Tilly are in the middle of the pack looking up at the chip stack of the United Kingdom’s Stephen Chidwick, and Nenad Medic faces the daunting challenge of pulling off a Maria Ho-like comeback if he is to emerge from 26th place to the upper echelon of the leader board. Everyone is in the money at this point, with a min-cash earning the players $20,129, but all eyes are on the top prize of $573,456.
Event #8 – $1000 No Limit Hold’em – Day 1A
Befitting the first of the minimum buy in events at the 2011 WSOP, an astounding 2116 players showed up for the first of two Day 1’s in this tournament. If the Sunday field can meet or exceed Saturday’s numbers, it would become the second largest non-Main Event field in World Series history and have a shot at last year’s high of 4345 players.
The carnage of the small buy in event was quite evident by the end of play on Saturday, as only 312 players will come back on Monday to partake of the Day 2 festivities. Although having the lead in such a large event as this might not mean much, Albert Kim can say he is currently at the head of the pack. Mississauga, Ontario’s Michael Malm is reported as second in chips at this point, but these situations could all change depending on what happens during Day 1B on Sunday.
As there is still the remaining Day 1 to play, the final payouts and first place prize have yet to be determined, although it is known that the final table will be part of the action on Wednesday.
Event #9 – $1500 No Limit Draw Deuce To Seven Lowball – Day 1
275 ventured into the realm of lowball poker on Saturday, with the field being winnowed down to 73 players by the end of the night. Making his first appearance on the leader boards at this year’s World Series is Canada’s Greg “FBT” Mueller, who is in decent shape in 32nd place with 17,250 in chips. Another Canadian, Toronto’s Nicholas Verkaik, has his work cut out for him as he is in 71st place.
George Lind currently is the chip leader of the tightly bunched field with 52,200, but the lead is far from a safe one. Such players as Jimmy Fricke, Avery Cardoza, Shaun Deeb, Bernard Lee, Chris Bjorn, Jason Mercier and Eli Elezra are all in hot pursuit, and that is just looking at the Top 20! The final table is scheduled for play on Monday, where the latest WSOP bracelet and the $102,105 first place prize will be awarded.
For the first time at this year’s WSOP, there are no events that will start on Sunday. Perhaps that is a good thing as, with five tournaments still in play at some level, some room needs to be cleared in the Rio before new events can begin! There is no lack of action for poker aficionados, however, as the 2011 World Series of Poker finishes off its first weekend of action.