The first bracelet of the 2012 World Series of Poker has been awarded, but the “true” action kicks into high gear today with the second day of Event #2, the $1500 No Limit Hold’em tournament, as well as the start of two other events for the thousands of players gathered at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Event #1 – $500 Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em – Final Day
With 46 players returning on Memorial Day from the original 732 player field to contest for the first bracelet of the 2012 WSOP, it was figured that the day would be a lengthy one. It turned out to be exactly that as the tournament didn’t reach a conclusion until after 2AM (Pacific Time) this morning.
Chiab “Chip” Saechao held the chip lead at the start of the day, but many eyes were on WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart and his run at the championship. Starting the day in tenth place, Stewart was able to stick around the tournament until it was down to the last three tables. He would eventually bow out, however, in 19th place, earning a $2223 payday for his efforts.
Saechao would be very quiet through the early going, comfortable in sitting on his chip stack until the final table was determined. Once the final nine combatants were determined, Saechao was down the table in eighth place but almost immediately began a run back to the top. He would get a key double up through eventual second place finisher Patricia Baker when, after Baker flopped a Queen to go with her Big Chick, Saechao would find one of his two outs for his pocket tens with a ten on the turn to take the lead. Although another Queen appeared on the river, Baker’s trips were dominated by Saechao’s boat and he would never look back.
For his efforts, Saechao not only earns the first bracelet of the 2012 WSOP, he also walks off with a $70,859 payday. Baker, while a bit dejected over not earning the bracelet, had a consolation prize of $43,754.
Event #2 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em – Day One
The first “open” event of the 2012 WSOP kicked off at noon on Monday and plenty of the professionals gathered in the desert got their feet wet with this tournament. Canadian pros such as former World Champion Jonathan Duhamel, Daniel Negreanu, Matt Jarvis, Terrence Chan, Shawn Buchanan and Matt Marafioti were in attendance as the field eventually grew to a respectable 2,101 players (the first $1500 event in 2011 drew 3157 runners). Chen was the only one of those players to survive to Day Two today, but he is joined by a host of fellow Canadians among the 240 players left.
Toronto’s Nicholas Verkaik took the honors for top Canadian performance of the day, ending the play with 105,600 in chips, good enough for seventh place behind chip leader Sadan Turker and second place Eli Elezra. According to the WSOP standings, Azim Popatia (17th, 83,300), Jason Sagle (20th, 75,000), Paul Soucy (41st, 61,700), Tyler Bonkowski (47th, 55,500), Dmitry Vitkind (104th, 37,600), Daniel Idema (106th, 37,100), Paul Sokoloff (117th, 33,700), Jean Cloutier (118th, 33,500), Marc Aubin (140th, 28,300), Jamie Coulter (175th, 20,700), Dean Belovari (187th, 19,100), Thomas Symonds (219th, 11,000) and Noelle Anderson (231st, 7300) will join Chen (67th, 46,700) at the tables on Tuesday as the field attempts to work down to the final table.
Wednesday will be the final table for this tournament, with the eventual champion taking down a $517,725 prize along with the epitome of tournament poker excellence, the WSOP bracelet.
Event #3 – $3000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha and Event #4 – $1500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo – STARTING TODAY
The 2012 WSOP truly ramps up the action on Tuesday with the start of two tournaments to run alongside Day Two of Event #2. The first, a unique $3000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha event, begins at noon and is capped as 512 players.
This event is difficult to handicap, as it is the first time it has been contested at the WSOP. Its unique format, where the players will change games when the levels go up, and the heads up format might prove to be a bit daunting for the recreational player, so expect to see several professionals – especially the Europeans that have truly embraced PLO – involved in this one.
The second tournament starting today will be the $1500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo event, which will hit the felt at 5PM. In 2011, 606 players turned out for the tournament, with Chris Viox spoiling the fun of Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton’s run at a second WSOP bracelet by knocking off the WPT announcer in heads up play. If the tournament can reach last year’s numbers (especially with two other tournaments in action), then maybe the poker pundits can breathe a bit easier regarding the turnout for this year’s WSOP.
Tuesday will be the first day that there is action all around the Rio, with the start of the two tournaments, Day Two of another and the first “bracelet ceremony” this afternoon. The 2012 World Series of Poker is underway, with fame, fortune and (for some) misery waiting.