Poker News

On the eve of the beginning of the $10,000 Championship Event, there are still plenty of issues to be determined in the preliminary tournaments at the 2012 World Series of Poker. The two tournaments that were supposed to conclude last night will extend into Friday, while another World Championship and the WSOP National Championship are up for grabs.

Event #57 – $10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em – Day Three

It was going to be a tough night for the 27 players who came back to the felt on Thursday to attempt to determine the World Champion of Six Handed NLHE. While the goal was to crown a victor in the tournament, the late hour of play forced the two survivors to suspend their action; they will come back on Friday to determine the winner.

Christopher Brammer was atop the table when the day started, with Day One chip leader Stanislav Barshak hanging on his coattails when the proceedings on Thursday began. It took slightly less than two hours to knock out nine players and bring the final 18 to three six handed tables, but the knockouts were notable. Kyle Julius, Fernando Brito, Roberto Romanello, Eugene Katchalov and Josh Brikis were among those eliminated as Barshak climbed into the chip lead.

It was at this point that the action ground to almost a complete halt. Although Carter Phillips and Jason Mercier would be some of the players eliminated from contention, it would take over four hours just to get to the final nine players (still short of the official six handed final table. In that carnage was Barshak, who lost a big chunk of chips to Eddy Sabat before being eliminated in eleventh place by Shannon Shorr.

After Layne Flack was dispatched by Gregory Merson, the final seven came together to determine who would officially get to put a WSOP final table on their poker resume. The unfortunate “bubble boy” for losing out on the final table honor was Timothy Adams, who saw his pocket eights lose a flip to Sabat’s A-9 when an Ace flopped. As the six men who would play for the championship headed off to dinner, Merson had emerged as the dominant stack at the table.

After the dinner break, the players would battle for an hour and a half before someone was eliminated. Andrew Lichtenberger, battling from the short stack for much of the day, got his chips in good with A-K against Merson’s A-Q. The board wouldn’t comply, however, delivering a Broadway straight for Merson on the turn. Although he had chances at a chop or an outright win with another heart, the Ace on the river ended Lichtenberger’s run at this title.

Another hour and a half saw Brammer and Sabat dropped from the tournament and the surviving triumvirate – Merson, Shorr and Keith Lehr – attempted to crown a champion before action would be halted for the night. Shorr was dispatched in third by Merson, giving him an 8:5 lead over Lehr, and those two would battle into early Friday morning.

Merson would knock Lehr down on one of the first hands of heads up, but Lehr wouldn’t go quietly. He fought back to bring the stacks almost equal to what they had been at the start of heads up play and, as the clock closed in on 2AM, the players decided to come back on Friday to settle the score.

Event #58 – $3000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo – Day Three

Much like its counterpart in Event #57, this tournament wasn’t able to decide a champion either. 31 players came back on Thursday to play down to the champion but, early Friday morning, Event #58 was suspended as well with three players left on the table. A lady was at the helm of the leaderboard, Felicia Johnico, but plenty of contenders were lined up to take her down.

One of those contenders was Bryan Devonshire, but he would be ejected from the tournament early and in a stunning manner. On a 3-6-3 flop, he got his final chips to the center against Dexter McNally with A-A-Q-9, only to see McNally turn up 3-10-A-Q for flopped trips. “Devo” couldn’t find another Ace on the turn or river, ending his run at the title in 29th place thirty minutes into the day’s play.

Johnico would run among the leaders for much of the early action until a big confrontation with an opponent would decimate her stack. On a J 5 A flop, Roch Cousineau would get his chips to the center and be at risk against Johnico. He was in a tenuous lead with his A-J-2-3, but he would have to fade several of Johnico’s draws with her A-2-4-5. A Jack on the turn improved Cousineau to a boat and a ten on the river would let Cousineau scoop the pot, pushing Johnico down to only 30K in chips. She would be eliminated in eleventh place moments following that hand.

The final table was determined after five and a half hours of play, with Cousineau holding the chip lead courtesy of that big hand against Johnico. Looking to earn his second bracelet of the 2012 WSOP, David “ODB” Baker was in the hunt in second place, while Yuval Bronshtein, Chris Bell and Scotty Nguyen were looking for their moment to get back in the event. Baker would take the lead after clashing with Cousineau just before dinner and, with Nguyen’s elimination in eighth place, the remaining players went to dinner with plenty left to settle.

Over the four and a half hours following dinner, the players attempted to get to the winner but were unable to. Baker’s run at a second bracelet ended with his elimination in fourth place at almost 3AM this morning, once again in a battle with Cousineau. Viacheslav Zhukov (2.26 million) will have the chip lead when play resumes today, with Cousineau (1.64 million) and Bell (835K) looking to stop his run.

Event #59 – $1000 No Limit Hold’em – Day 1B

The final “small” buy in event of the 2012 WSOP didn’t fail to draw out the players. After 1740 players took to the felt on Day 1A, another 2880 stepped up on Thursday to bring the total field to 4620 runners, by far the largest field to this point of the 2012 WSOP. 471 players survived the Day 1B carnage and they will join the 256 players from Day 1A for Day Two on Friday.

Alex Cordero came through Thursday’s minefield and will hold the overall chip lead when Day Two kicks off this afternoon. Day 1A chip leader Ronald Lee will be in second, while Jake Cody used a great run on Thursday to take the third place slot. Also in the Top Ten for today’s action will be Dominik Nitsche and Owen Crowe, while Phil Ivey is in the Top 25.

The eventual champion of this tournament (expected to be determined Sunday) will take down the WSOP bracelet and $654,797 for the championship.

Event #60 – $10,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball – Day One

Compared to last year’s running of this tournament, Event #60 came up a bit short. While 126 players competed last year, only 101 came to the tables this time around. It could be that the pros are waiting for the competition to begin in the Championship Event on Saturday, but the players that did come out comprised some of the most notable names in the game.

Making his first appearance at this year’s WSOP was “The Orient Express,” Johnny Chan. The two time WSOP Championship Event winner wouldn’t make it to the end of the day’s play, but he wasn’t the only one to drop $10K for nothing. Phil Hellmuth, Michael Mizrachi and Brandon Cantu would join Chan on the rail as the field was nearly cut in half by early this morning to 54 players.

When Day Two picks up today, Konstantin Puchkov is in the pole position with 133,400 in chips and looking to make WSOP history. If he is able to cash in this event (the top 14 will earn a payday), it would be his eleventh cash of the WSOP, setting a record. Looking to stop Puchkov from rewriting the record books will be Rep Porter (115,400), Hasan Habib (104,700), Daniel Negreanu (94,200) and Erik Seidel (91,200), among others.

Bracelet Bounty Tournament and WSOP National Championship – STARTING TODAY

Much like the commercials that scream, “But wait, there’s more!” the WSOP has that today with two tournaments. The Bracelet Bounty tournament will feature the bracelet winners with a $500 bounty on their heads for competitors to take. A non-bracelet event, it is expected to conclude today with a winner.

The bigger prize for players is the WSOP National Championship. The top 100 points earners on the WSOP Circuit will be playing for a million dollar prize pool but, in a unique twist, players can buy into this tournament for $10,000 to increase the prize pool. Expected to conclude on Sunday, this tournament may draw some deep-pocketed pros that are looking for a big score to head off to the Championship Event with some more cash.

This all leads up to tomorrow and the start of the $10,000 Championship Event. With three Day Ones spread over the weekend, the questions of how big the field will be will be answered as the 2012 World Series of Poker has reached its penultimate moment.

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