The first weekend of the 2019 World Series of Poker will wrap up today, but there’s no rest awaiting those in the Rio on Sunday. Two tournaments will be looking to crown champions while the “BIG 50” enters its final Day One and the Mixed Triple Draw tests the wills of its competitors.
“BIG 50” Steams Forward
It has been a bit difficult to keep up with the “BIG 50” because of the simple fact that, while Day 1x is going on, Day 2x of another flight of the tournament is going on. What is known is that Day 1B and Day 1C maxed out their entry numbers at 4800 entries and Day 1D today is supposed to do the same. If this holds true, then the “BIG 50” will be the largest ever poker tournament in WSOP history, topping the 2015 “COLOSSUS” for that honor.
For Day 1C, the leader is unofficially John Utley, who racked up 830,000 chips to take the honors. A “blast from the past” in WSOP bracelet winner Todd ‘DanDruff’ Witteles also makes an appearance on the leaderboard with his 664,000 chips, while other top pros such as former World Champion Jamie Gold (135K), Allen Kessler (112K) and defending WSOP Player of the Year Shaun Deeb (252K) will be around for Day 2C this afternoon.
As to Day 2B, which started on Saturday afternoon, Jerald Williamson is atop the mountain with his own impressive stack of 4.105 million in chips. Williamson was as solid as a mountain through the day, only taking over the chip lead from Azad Azram late in the evening. This flight also saw Justin Liberto, Jason Wheeler, Bryan Piccioli and Kyle Julius make it through the carnage. Not as fortunate were players such as former “November Niner” Pierre Neuville, Jamie Kerstetter and Matt Affleck.
The final day of the “BIG 50” begins this morning at 10AM (Pacific Time) and it will be another busy day at the Rio. Along with the Day 1D crowd, Day 2C will be brought in Sunday afternoon for action as they work the field down. By this evening, we should learn the numbers for the “BIG 50” and if the $1 million guarantee for the eventual champion will be beaten.
John Esposito Leads Final Table of Event #4
The $1500 Omaha Hi/Lo Eight or better event has reached its final table from its original 853 player field. John Esposito will lead the final seven players as he seeks his second WSOP bracelet. There are some significant challenges to Esposito in the form of Benjamin Yu, David Halpern and Tom McCormick, but everyone is severely short stacked (even Esposito only has 23 big blinds to play with), so it is anyone’s event to take.
1. John Esposito, 2.33 million
2. Jason Berilgen, 2.145 million
3. Derek McMaster, 1.775 million
4. David Halpern, 1.27 million
5. Joseph Aronesty, 855,000
6. Benjamin Yu, 290,000
7. Tom McCormick, 85,000
Ben Heath, Dmitry Yurasov Lead 50th Anniversary High Roller, Hellmuth Melts Down
The field would swell to 110 entries by the time late registration/reentry closed on Saturday afternoon of this $50,000 buy-in event and it was one of those players who took advantage of those rules who was prominently featured. 15-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth showed up for the start of Day 2 and, unfortunately (or, if you’re a fan of his blowups, fortunately), “Mr. POSITIVITY” would fail to live up to the moniker he often uses on his Twitter feed.
In a clash against Chance Kornuth, Hellmuth, who often hashtags his Tweets with #POSITIVITY, would check-call every street as he tried to ride his top pair to victory. Kornuth was able to top him, however, when he rivered a backdoor flush to pick up the hand. Hellmuth tried to keep the volcanic pressure internalized but, after Kornuth poked the bear by saying, “I usually blame the dealer too when that happens,” “Mr. POSITIVITY” disappeared and the ‘Poker Brat’ erupted.
“Not blaming the dealer,” Hellmuth growled, “It’s just f*****g bulls**t. I had you trapped; you didn’t deserve to win that pot.” Kornuth decided to stick the knife in a bit deeper and twist, responding, “There’s one thing I’ve learned…in poker…something you obviously haven’t. You never deserve anything.” Hellmuth would lose the scraps left over from that clash, buy back in, and bust two hands into that stack to start of day chip leader Ali Imsirovic.
Kornuth would ride the victory over Hellmuth to a Top Five finish at the end of the day, looking up at Ben Heath, Dmitry Yurasov and Elio Fox when action resumes later today.
1. Ben Heath, 5.255 million
2. Dmitry Yurasov, 4.8 million
3. Elio Fox, 4.695 million
4. Chance Kornuth, 4.51 million
5. Nick Petrangelo, 3.8 million
6. Cary Katz, 2.59 million
7. Andrew Lichtenberger, 2.26 million
8. Sam Soverel, 1.82 million
9. Sam Grafton, 1.48 million
10. David Einhorn, 1.09 million
11. Manig Loeser, 575,000
12. Matthew Gonzales, 155,000
These twelve men could have a quick day on Sunday. Plans are to play down to the final six, with the championship to be decided on Monday. Everyone is guaranteed a $101,604 payday, but they all want the WSOP bracelet and the $1,484,085 that will await the winner on Monday night.
Slightly Smaller Field for Mixed Triple Draw, Schwartz and Martini Lead
Sunday will bring Day 2 action in Event #6, the $2500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw, which saw a slight decrease in players. In 2018, 321 players came out for a very difficult discipline of poker – the Lowball games of Ace to Five, Deuce to Seven and Badugi. This year’s field was a slight bit lower than that, with 291 entries coming to the line, but the players won’t sneeze at the $666,000 prize pool.
When the 120 survivors come back for action today, Jake Schwartz and Julien Martini will be at the helm of the ship. Schwartz, with 117,600 in chips, barely eked out the lead over 2018 WSOP bracelet winner Martini (117,400). While they battle it out, they can’t ignore the crowd behind them that includes notables such as John Racener, Layne Flack, David ‘ODB’ Baker and Benny Glaser.
1. Jake Schwartz, 117,600
2. Julien Martini, 117,400
3. Brayden Gazlay, 91,000
4. John Racener, 83,100
5. Jason Daly, 81,300
6. Andrey Zhigalov, 77,500
7. Wes Self, 74,500
8. Layne Flack, 66,200
9. David Baker, 65,900
10. Benny Glaser, 64,100
Online, Short Deck Take to the Stage on Sunday
Two tournaments will join all the action above on Sunday, with one tournament online and one on the live felt. The $400 No Limit Hold’em event (Event #7) starts at 3:30PM (Pacific Time) on WSOP.com and will be concluded this evening. Another tournament brings the latest “flavor of the day,” Short Deck Hold’em, to the WSOP in the form of a $10,000 buy-in tournament. That event, with the deuces through fives removed from the deck, has become very popular with the pros in the poker world and it should draw a solid field of big names when it starts at 6PM today.