The business of poker is bursting the walls of the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as the 2012 World Series of Poker moves on into its third week beginning today. There was plenty of excitement around the Amazon Room on Sunday, however, as the most decorated player in WSOP history only further added to his legend.
Event #17 – $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship – Final Day
The final day of the Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship brought back 17 players on Sunday, with only one Canadian among those with a shot at the WSOP bracelet and a $445,899 payday. Matt Marafioti started off the day well down the leaderboard in fourteenth place and immediately went about improving his position. He caught Jeff Tims in a bluff to push his stack over the 260K mark, then set about making a move towards the final table.
At the unofficial ten handed final table, Marafioti continued to strive to push deeper into the tournament and would earn another WSOP final table finish with the elimination of Ryan Julius in tenth place. Marafioti was hanging around the middle of the pack (455K) at this point, looking up at the massive chip stack of Phil Ivey (1.185 million) – who was in the hunt for Bracelet #9 – and down the table at Shaun Deeb and Hoyt Corkins.
That would be the best of the day for Marafioti as his drive for his first WSOP bracelet would be thwarted by a bad beat from Ali Eslami. After a big bet from Eslami pre-flop, Marafioti three bet the action to 260K and Eslami called off his remaining chips. Marafioti was ahead in the hand with his A-Q against Eslami’s K-9, but the flop didn’t cooperate. The Q-8-K flop gave the edge to Eslami and the hand once the turn and river blanked. Marafioti would meet his end on the next hand, eliminated by Alexander Venovski, in seventh place.
Even though Canada had lost one of her favorite sons, there was a good battle for the bracelet. Andy Frankenberger rode a rollercoaster with his chip stack for much of the final table but had it hit its highest point when it mattered. After Eslami was eliminated by Ivey, Frankenberger and Ivey would fight it out for the bracelet with pretty much even chip stacks at the start of heads up play. Over the span of an hour, Frankenberger was able to get the best of Ivey to take home the World Championship in Pot Limit Hold’em.
Event #18 – $2500 Seven Card Razz – Final Day
Many of the eyes in the Amazon Room were focused on what many say is the worst form of poker in existence. Razz – with its goal of building the best low hand instead of the best high one – has been maligned for its mundane pace, but the winner of the bracelet today may bring in some new converts.
Phil Hellmuth was in third place at the start of play behind fellow WSOP bracelet holders Brandon Cantu and Brendan Taylor at the start of the day, with 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Chris Viox, Barry Greenstein, Scott Fischman and Scott Clements all on the leaderboard of the 18 players left. Hellmuth would go on the attack from the start, taking over the chip lead by the time two tables were set up, and was in second by the time the official eight handed WSOP final table was determined.
It got a bit tougher for the “Poker Brat” at this time as he dropped some chips to Greenstein in the early final table action. Undaunted, Hellmuth went back on the offensive, charging back up the table while causing some ruckus of his own when he didn’t want to give some space to Cantu as players dropped out. At the dinner break, He had over a 2:1 lead over Don Zewin, with Cantu and Fischman further back.
Following some well-deserved sustenance, Hellmuth continued to pound away at his opponents. Although Zewin would get some chips by knocking out Fischman, Hellmuth took Cantu’s chips (and some of Zewin’s) to get to heads up play with Hellmuth holding a nearly 5:1 lead. Although Zewin (who was at the final table when Hellmuth won the 1989 WSOP Championship Event, his first WSOP bracelet) was able to draw close at one point, Hellmuth would not be denied, taking the tournament early this morning for his historic twelfth bracelet (his first in a non-Hold’em tournament) and the $182,793; although he won’t be giving back the money, Phil Hellmuth was definitely all about the bracelet!
Event #19 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em – Day Two
While the excitement over Ivey’s deep run and Hellmuth’s record-extending 12th bracelet win may have drawn some attention away, there were four other events at some stage of their proceedings. One of those was Day Two of the $1500 No Limit Hold’em event, which started with 2302 players and brought back 262 runners for yesterday’s action, of which 243 would get paid.
After slightly more than two hours of play, the money bubble popped and players started picking up their earnings for this tournament. Montreal’s Derek Lerner, Bonnyville’s Kenneth Manson, Dartmouth’s Andrew Conrad (all receiving $2796 for their min-cashes), Mirimachi Bay’s Kevin MacDonald, Markham’s Ricky Tang, Langley’s Ken McKay (taking down $3076), Calgary’s Rory MacLeod, St. John’s Daniel Noseworthy, Hamilton’s Adam Podstawka (each getting $3356), Napean’s Christopher Etmanski ($3729) and London’s Jeffrey Mahoney (36th, $13,021) were the Canadians bringing back some WSOP loot.
When the final nineteen players step up to determine a champion today, Philippe Boucher holds the Canadian flag high in eleventh place (459K in chips), but he has some work to do to catch chip leader Gregg Wilkinson’s 1.227 million first place stack. At stake is the WSOP bracelet and a $559,514 first place prize.
Event #20 – $5000 Limit Hold’em – Day Two
109 players came back to the felt for Day Two of this event, with Terrence Chan, Tyler Bonkowski and Daniel Idema all in the running for this Limit bracelet. By the time they got down to the final seventeen players early this morning, however, only Chan would survive to earn any of the $780,200 prize pool (divvied up among the top eighteen finishers).
Chan is in a great spot to make a move for the second Canadian bracelet of the 2012 WSOP, though. He sits in second place with his 238K in chips, behind only Matthew Woodward on the leaderboard. The top seven players are tightly bunched, with only 65K separating them, so it is anyone’s tournament to win. For the player who works the hardest (probably until early tomorrow morning) and wins this tournament, the reward is $206,760 in cash and the shiny new WSOP bracelet.
Event #21 – $1000 No Limit Hold’em – Day One
By the time registration closed on the $1000 No Limit Hold’em event, 2799 players had put their hard earned cash on the line. After playing to the WSOP curfew of 2AM this morning, the final 228 players were all in the money (297 players were paid), with Toronto’s Samuel Greenwood, Oakville’s David Shamess, Courtice’s Raymond Ross and Sodbury’s Byron McNair leaving the Rio after a long day with something to show for their efforts (the first three took the $1839 min-cash, McNair moved up one rung to $2015 by finishing 248th).
According to the official WSOP report, two Canadians are in the Top Ten when play begins today. Winnipeg’s Brian Friesen will hold down the seventh place slot with his 96,400 in chips, while Richmond’s Jason Manggunio is in tenth with 89,800. They are behind Edward Locke, the Day One chip leader with 133,200 in chips. Chris McClung, Gino Risorto, Patrice Rinfret, Robert Davis, Hok-Leung Wong, Vaughan Till, Jaehwa Son, Laird McKeen, David Soutter and Kam Low are also still alive but have varying degrees of work to do if they want to drive deep in this tournament.
The plan for today’s Day Two action is to play down to the final table, but that may be a bit of a stretch. Regardless, tomorrow they will crown a champion, who will earn $440,829 and the WSOP bracelet for their efforts.
Event #22 – $2500 Limit Deuce To Seven Triple Draw – Day One
228 players showed their interest in this niche event, down from last year’s 309 players, but still an impressive outpouring of support for the game. It also turns out that this game is dominated by Canadians (to this point), with one holding down the lead heading into Day Two play.
Shawn Buchanan is atop the ladder in this tournament, sitting with 61,800, over 10K more than second place Arturo Diaz. Joining Buchanan in the Top Ten is Daniel Idema (healthy with a 44,800 count), while Jason Lavallee is just off the edge of the Top Ten in twelfth place (34,200). Pat Pezzin and Alexander Krapivinsky are down the table somewhat, but are ready to take a charge at getting to the money.
With 79 players left to go, this tournament may take some time to even reach the money bubble on Monday (the final table is scheduled for tomorrow). 24 players will split up the $518,700 prize pool, with the champion taking home $145,247 and the WSOP bracelet.
Event #23 – $3000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em and Event #24 – $5000 Omaha Hi/Lo – STARTING TODAY
If four tournaments in some level of their play weren’t enough for the poker fans in Las Vegas, two more will join the mix on Monday. Event #23 will kick off at noon (Pacific Time) and should draw more players than last year’s 732 players (the buy in was $5000 in 2011). That tournament was notable in that Matt Jarvis took down his first WSOP bracelet by defeating Justin Filtz (oh, yeah…he won over $808K too!).
Event #24 has also been scaled down versus 2011, this year’s version featuring a $5000 buy in rather than last year’s $10K price tag. Still, there will be a huge number of players coming to this tournament and its exciting style of play. Last year, Viacheslav Zhukov won the 202 player event, defeating George Lind to take down the World Championship.