2017 World Series of Poker: Casino Employees’ Event Moves to Homestretch, Tag Team Event Draws Power Lineups



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The 2017 World Series of Poker is underway and, even though the action has only been going for 48 hours, the first bracelet to be awarded is coming up this evening. Event #1, the $500 Casino Employees’ Event, will conclude this evening, while a respectable field of strong teams turned out for the latest innovation by the WSOP staff.

Event #1 – $500 Casino Employees’ Event – Day One

The Casino Employees’ Event, the traditional start to the WSOP, is now down to its final 11 players. Heading that pack is Chris Gallagher, who eked out the lead with his 519K chip stack over Chris Solomon’s 513K tower of chips.

Once late registration concluded in the two-day tournament, 651 entries had come in from around the world. Some of those entries were notable pros, such as 2016 “November Niner” Kenny Hallaert (a tournament director), David Tuchman (his work on “Live at the Bike” qualifies him as a casino employee for the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles) and Erica Lindgren (poker host at the Venetian), but none of them could crack the 98 players who earned a Hendon Mob flag for their efforts. 2015 Casino Employees’ champion Brandon Barnette was one of the familiar names who made it into the money, with Barnette driving deep for a 20th place finish.

Once the bell rang to close Day One of the event, 11 players were left standing. They will come back to two tables on Thursday, with one more elimination left before the final 10 are combined into the unofficial final table.

1. Chris Gallagher, 519,000
2. Chris Solomon, 513,000
3. Jermel Stephens, 418,000
4. Alex Cordova, 348,000
5. Victor Kim, 323,000
6. Bryan Hollis, 290,000
7. Adem Arbuckle, 243,000
8. Vincent Russell, 216,000
9. Josh Clanton, 172,000
10. Haviv Bahar, 145,000
11. Nathan Bolinger, 77,000

The eventual champion from these 11 men will earn the first bracelet of the 2017 WSOP, along with a $68,717 boost to their wallet.

Event #2 – $10,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em Championship – Day One

One of the new events for the 2017 WSOP, the $10,000 Tag Team tournament, took off on its maiden flight on Wednesday. The title of the event tells you exactly what to expect – a team of two or more players take on the tournament, with the switch outs coming when a player “tags in” one of his or her teammates for action. Due to the large buy-in, many teams were replete with notable names who were looking to make their mark on the event.

By the time late registration ended for the tournament, 102 teams were a part of the action, building a prize pool of slightly more than $1 million. From there, it was a matter of working out who would be among the 16 teams who would take home a minimum $14,783 piece of the prize pool, with everyone casting their eyes towards the top of the board and the $273,964 there for the champion to take.

It seemed that every table featured a prominent player from at least one of the teams participating. The ladies were well represented by two former Ladies Event champions, Lisa Hamilton and Haixia Zhang, teaming up with high roller participant Lauren Roberts to form a squad, while Roberts’ occasional high roller combatant Dan Shak collaborated with Sam Abernathy and Rory Brown for action. As late registration approached, there was a rush of top teams as Team Holz (featuring Fedor Holz, Erik Seidel and Koray Aldemir), Team Kempe (Rainer Kempe, David Williams, and Stephen Sontheimer) and the romantic duo of Team Boeree (Liv Boeree and paramour Igor Kurganov) all stepped to the felt.

The news wasn’t good for many of these teams, however. Team Rast (Brian Rast, Jeff Gross, Antonio Esfandiari and Olympic legend Michael Phelps), Team Hawkins (WSOP Circuit legend Maurice Hawkins, Charles “Woody” Moore and Brandon Fish), Team Deeb (Shaun Deeb, Scott Seiver, Daniel Weinman and Mike Gorodinsky) and Team Glantz (Matt Glantz, Mike Matusow, D. J. Mackinnon and Kyle Bowker) were all unable to make it through Day One. By the end of the night, a familiar partnership was on top of the leaderboard.

Team Polk, featuring last year’s champions of the $1000 WSOP Tag Team event Doug Polk and Ryan Fee along with Jason Mo and Michael Finstein, entered the tournament just before the close of registration, but they made the most of their time on the table. By the time the chips were bagged, Team Polk was atop the standings with 240,600 in chips. They will be the “kings of the mountain” as the remaining 51 teams come back to action on Thursday (full team indicated if available).

1. Team Polk, 240,600
2. Team Staats (Christopher Staats, Orlando Romero and Roland Israelashvili), 216,400
3. Team Tran (JC Tran, Nam Le and Antonio Gutierrez), 207,000
4. Team Chidwick (Stephen Chidwick and Dan Smith), 204,500
5. Team Salter (Jack Salter and company), 192,300
6. Team Gomez (Javier Gomez and company), 191,100
7. Team Fast (Dietrich Fast and company), 187,100
8. Team Gathy (Michael Gathy and company), 183,000
9. Team Chamaria (Shuchi Chamaria and company), 178,400
10. Team Snead (Paul Snead and Charlemagne Benjamin), 157,000

Play resumes at 2PM in the Brasilia Room at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, with the hopes to get to the final nine teams for the final table on Friday.

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