While it may not be the homestretch, the end of the 2016 World Series of Poker – at least the summertime run – is in view with more than 50 events completed. A burgeoning pro and a player who already had multiple pieces of WSOP bling picked up bracelets while a veteran of the high stakes tournament poker wars opened up the first day of the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship with the lead.
Event #50 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout
It is said that one of the “easier” bracelets to win at the WSOP is a Shootout tournament. With the object to beat one table and move on, the pathway is supposedly easier, but when 1050 players enter the tournament, it still is a challenge! On Friday afternoon, 12 individuals came together with the dream of taking home the championship dancing in their minds.
The 12 players broke down nicely into a two table setup and, as it had been a shootout, the players were all near each other in chips. The “chip leader” were in fact two players, Safiya Umerova and Damian Salas, who each had a 654,000 chip stack in front of them. Players such as Alexander Lakhov, Niall Farrell, Sam Greenwood and Vanessa Selbst were all within 15K chips of the leaders, so the battle was indeed on.
With the plan to get to 10-handed and set up the final table, nobody wanted to depart early. Umerova came out of the gate firing, however, whacking a big chunk of Greenwood’s chips from him to take over the chip lead. The two would tussle again, this time Umerova taking out Greenwood in 12th place when her turned set of sixes found a boat on the river against Greenwood’s flopped straight (K-10) on a Q-J-9-6-J board. Once Farrell eliminated Erkut Yilmaz in 11th place, the final table was set with Farrell holding a slight edge on Umerova.
That duo would turn out to be the story of the tournament. If Farrell wasn’t in the lead, it was Umerova and vice versa throughout the play at the final table. They didn’t shy away from each other either as Umerova at one point five-bet Farrell off a hand. When the wave of destruction calmed once heads up play was set, Farrell (using a double elimination of Salas and Yuliyan Kolev) held the lead with his 4.135 million chips as Umerova (off eliminating Michael Mixer) was stacked with 3.71 million.
There was a great deal of thought that the experienced Farrell would run roughshod over the green Umerova (who herself admitted she had only played professionally for 18 months), but that wasn’t the case. Umerova took over the lead after 90 minutes of heads up action, but lost it when Farrell doubled through her. Undaunted, Umerova took up the climb again, doubling back through Farrell when she caught quad Queens against the Brit. A full house from Umerova put her back into the lead on Hand 146 and this time it was for good.
On the final hand, Umerova raised from the button only to see Farrell put her to a decision by moving all in. Pondering the spot, Umerova would eventually make the call, tabling a leading A♥ 9♥ against Farrell’s Q-9 off suit for play. An Ace on the flop put Umerova further into the lead and it only got better; by the time the A-K-5-5-2 three-heart board completed, Umerova had made the nut flush to win her first WSOP bracelet and become the second woman (with Kristen Bicknell) to win a bracelet at the 2016 WSOP.
1. Safiya Umerova, $264,046
2. Niall Farrell, $163,158
3. Michael Mixer, $118,109
4. Yuliyan Kolev, $86,513
5. Damian Salas, $64,129
6. Raymond Ho, $48,115
7. Daniel McAulay, $36,543
8. Daniel Tang, $28,101
9. Alexander Lakhov, $21,881
10. Vanessa Selbst, $17,255
Event #51 – $10,000 Eight-Handed Pot Limit Omaha World Championship
Six men came back on Saturday from the original 400-player field with a bit of a score to settle. The tournament had to be stopped on Friday with the sextet still vying for the title, meaning an additional day had to be added. Sitting in the prime position was WSOP bracelet holder Brandon Shack-Harris with his 5.425 million chips, but he had to hold back the surge of Matthew Parry (4.755 million) and 2016 WSOP bracelet winner Loren Klein (3.53 million), who was looking to become the fourth player this year to win two bracelets.
None of these men was the story of the early going. It was Tommy Le who made some noise in rocketing out at the start of the day, knocking off Harley Stoffmaker in sixth place and taking a chunk of chips out of Melad Marji’s stack to briefly take the lead. We say “briefly” because soon after the battle with Marji, he went up against Shack-Harris in a hand and had to release it on the river, giving the chip edge back to Shack-Harris.
From that point onward, Shack-Harris would not be denied. He eliminated Parry in fifth and Le in third to get over the 12 million chip mark and, while Klein taking out Marji in fourth gave him some more chips, he was still facing almost a six million chip disadvantage to Shack-Harris. Klein would get as close as 600,000 chips away from Shack-Harris, but the mountain would prove to be too tough to climb.
On the final hand, the money would go in on an A-10-8 flop, with Shack-Harris holding an A-10-6-4 for top two pair and Klein holding an A-8-6-3 for the second best two pair. Needing an eight, the turn deuce and river Jack didn’t help Kline as Shack-Harris earned his second WSOP bracelet.
1. Brandon Shack-Harris, $894,300
2. Loren Klein, $552,713
3. Tommy Le, $376,667
4. Melad Marji, $261,652
5. Matthew Parry, $185,337
6. Harley Stoffmaker, $133,918
7. Junayed Khan, $98,746*
8. Dominique Mosley, $74,339*
(* – eliminated on Friday, part of official final table)
Event #55 – $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship
Day 1 of one of the most prestigious titles in all of tournament poker – the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship – kicked off on Saturday with a pro-laden field. Registration for the tournament will continue until the start of play today but, at 87 players currently, it has already surpassed the totals from 2015 (84 players).
The tournament floor was a dream area for poker fans as the crème of the poker world vied for the WSOP bracelet and, arguably more important, the right to put their name on the David ‘Chip” Reese Memorial Trophy, also awarded to the eventual champion. As the day wore on, only three men – Stephen Chidwick, Keith Gipson and Abe Mosseri – weren’t able to survive the Day 1 action, but there’s plenty of thrills still left in the remaining field.
Leading the way when the cards hit the air on Sunday afternoon will be Scott Seiver. A veteran of the nosebleed tournament games (the “High Rollers,” it could be said), Seiver bagged up an impressive 593,000 chips, more than doubling his opening stack of 250,000. There are a host of top professionals – including the only two-time champion of this event, Michael Mizrachi, and another former Poker Players’ Championship winner in Brian Rast – arranged behind him, however:
1. Scott Seiver, 593,000
2. Timofey Kuznetsov, 557,600
3. Robert Mizrachi, 500,200
4. Brian Rast, 463,900
5. Erik Sagstrom, 457,700
6. John Monnette, 454,300
7. Michael Mizrachi, 433,000
8. William O’Neil, 427,600
Although Seiver has to be proud of coming out of Day 1 the leader, there is still way too much time left in the tournament to be sizing up the bracelet. 39 of the remaining 84 players are all above the starting stack of 250K and anyone can make a run to the top. It will be another exciting Poker Players’ Championship as it plays out to its championship final table come Wednesday.