After eight events that has seen the United Kingdom’s Stephen Chidwick win two tournaments and Sean Winter attempt to keep pace with the Brit for the overall Player of the Series honors (and an extra $100,000), the second ever U. S. Poker Open will close this weekend. Wrapping up the festivities will be the conclusion of the $50,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament on Friday, while the $100,000 Main Event kicks off action and will conclude on Saturday.
USPO Event #9 – $50,000 No Limit Hold’em
It may seem like a case of “same story, different day,” but Winter is once again back at the final table in the $50K event. In fact, Winter, who is currently in second place in the Player of the Series standings (more on that in a minute), will be the only player over two million in chips when the tournament continues on Friday. With his 2.02 million stack, Winter has nearly a million-chip lead over his closest competitors, former World Champion Ryan Riess and Koray Aldemir, who both have 1.185 million in chips. Rounding out the final table will be Alex Foxen, the only other player over the million-chip mark (1.005 million), while David Peters (535,000) and Seth Davies (270,000) have their work cut out for them on the short stacks.
This is the final preliminary event before the $100,000 Main Event, so the players are all trying to grasp the brass ring and the points involved as far as the Player of the Series race. But, most of all, it is about the money and there’s plenty of it for the players. The 41-entry field built up a $2.05 million prize pool and sixth place will pay out $123,000. The eventual champion of Event #9 will take down the biggest prize of the USPO to this point, $738,000, and ride a hot hand with the $100K tournament awaiting the players.
USPO Event #10 – $100,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event
After running this tournament last year as a $50,000 buy in tournament, the “powers that be” with the USPO thought that it deserved to be set even higher. Thus, this year’s Main Event is a $100,000 buy in tournament, one of the largest in the world of poker, and it leaves many wondering just how many players will show up. Last year’s event – and the problems that it suffered from – offer no indications at all as to the eventual outcome.
In 2018 and the inaugural USPO event, the $50,000 tournament suffered from the same problems that occurred in the preliminaries that year: the players didn’t know what to expect and they were reluctant to step up. Eventually 33 entries would show up for the 2018 tournament, with a final table that featured Dan Smith, Tom Marchese and Daniel Negreanu. In the end, it was the relatively unknown Keith Tilston who defeated Jake Schindler for the championship and the $660,000 first place prize.
For the 2019 event, we can surely count on most of the “usual suspects” who have been a part of the USPO this week to show up. We can also count on Chidwick and Winter to be in attendance as they battle it out to the wire for the Player of the Series title. But will someone come from the woods to take down the title as Tilston did in 2018? The three-day tournament will conclude on Sunday and crown the final champion of the 2019 USPO.
Chidwick Holds Slim Lead over Winter in Player of the Series Race
Through eight tournaments of the ten-tournament schedule, Chidwick and Winter have sparred back and forth for the lead. Chidwick got off to a good start by winning the first tournament on the roster, but Winter’s four tournament streak of making the final table – capped off with winning Event #4 – pushed him out to the lead. Chidwick would regain the edge in winning his second tournament, the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha Event #6, as the duo come to the final two tournaments on the roster.
There are some other players who have built up enough points to have a shot at the overall championship, however. Nick Schulman, who won the $25,000 8-Game Mixed tournament (Event #8), has pulled into third place on the list. Brandon Adams and Cary Katz also have a shot at the title as the final two tournaments are played out. Here’s a look at the Top Ten with eight events completed:
1. Stephen Chidwick, 540 points ($705,950 winnings)
2. Sean Winter, 440 ($419,900)
3. Nick Schulman, 410 ($390,000)
4. Brandon Adams, 365 ($314,750)
5. Cary Katz, 340 ($580,200)
6. Bryn Kenney, 240 ($477,000)
(tie) Lauren Roberts, 240 ($263,400)
(tie) Jordan Cristos, 240 ($206,200)
9. Ali Imsirovic, 200 ($442,500)
(tie) Benjamin Yu, 200 ($262,800)
As far as prognostications go, it is going to be tough for anyone to catch the Top Five. Not only would anyone beneath them have to make the final table and/or win the $100,000 Main Event, they would have to do so without anyone in the Top Five making the final table also. The odds of that happening are quite slim, especially with the caliber of players that are in the Top Five. It will all come out in the end over this weekend, however, as the U. S. Poker Open concludes its second schedule with a flourish.