LAS VEGAS, NV - We continue our review of all events at the 43rd annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) at the Rio Casino, Las Vegas with reports on events #24 through #35 having gone over the first 23 bracelets awarded in the last two weeks.
This series is slowly turning into Phil Ivey's as he has now reached five final tables, an incredible achievement in anyone's book. Although he has failed to turn any of his final table appearances into a precious bracelet, Ivey, who missed all of last year's series, has once again cemented his position as the best player around. With three top five finishes among his five final tables and over $500,000 in cashes Ivey is most certainly back in the tournament fold.
Event #24 $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8 or Better saw Ivey reach his third final table of the series and for plenty of time he looked the most likely winner as the table was whittled down to three players. Joining Ivey in the final three were two top quality players in Joe Cassidy and Scotty Nguyen and in the end, after chips changed hands on many occasions, it was Ivey who finished third to leave Cassidy and Scotty Nguyen heads up. Cassidy took a big chip lead into heads up play and never relinquished to claim his first WSOP bracelet and a top prize of $294,777.
Just 366 players took to the felt in event #25 $1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout and Victor Ramdin was the most well known player to reach the final table, before he eventually fell just short in fourth place. Other notable players to go deep in the tournament were Scott Seiver, Greg Mueller and Justin Bonomo. None of the big names could stop Brian Meinders, who swept through the final table to claim the silverware and a six-figure win of $116,118.
Pot Limit Omaha was the game in event #26 and 589 players stumped up the $3,000 entry fee for this tournament. 63 players managed to cash in the tournament and there were plenty of big names among them including Erik Seidel, Isaac Haxton, Joe Beevers and Chino Rheem. Austin Scott eventually prevailed to win $361,797 and the coveted piece of jewellery. He never gave up his big chip lead heads up to Brett Richey and ground down the experienced pro within a couple of hours.
Event #27 $1,500 H.O.R.S.E had a big field of 889 and over three days they fell by the wayside until popular pro Ylon Schwartz prevailed to win his first ever WSOP bracelet. Schwartz is probably most famous for making a phenomenal fold of a King-high flush at the 2008 Main Event final table against Ivan Demidov but now he has his hands on another big cash prize of $267,081 and most importantly a WSOP bracelet. Schwartz defeated David Chiu heads up.
750 players paid up $2,500 to play a new event for this year, event #28 Four Handed No Limit Hold'em. Play is generally highly aggressive at such short handed tables and it is no surprise to see that players like Lex Veldhuis, Micky Petersen and Annette Obrestad all managed to cash in this interesting form of poker. It was two young players that clashed heads up as Canadian Tim Adams took on highly rated Aussie Brendon Rubie. Adams eventually got the better of Rubie to win Canada's third bracelet of the series and for him a prize of $392,476. Rubie's pain of losing heads up was reduced with his $242,458 prize.
A record field of 4,128 took to the felt for event #29 $1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold'em Championship open to players aged 50 and over. Over four days the players battled for chips and were finally reduced to a stacked final table including Hoyt Corkins and Dennis Phillips. Phillips was chip leader throughout the final table and he eventually reached a heads up situation against Allyn Jaffrey Shulman (wife of WSOPE Main Event winner Barry Shulman). Although Phillips was clearly the best player out of the final two, Shulman showed great determination to claw back some chips before Phillips succumbed and finished in second place. A huge prize of $603,713 was Shulman's reward as well as her first bracelet. Phillips took home over $370,000 for his troubles.
A poker variant gaining popularity is 2-7 Draw Lowball (No Limit) and that was the format for event #30 for which 285 players paid up the $1,500 fee. The final table was one of the toughest assembled at this WSOP with Brandon Cantu, Michael Mizrachi, Erik Lindgren and Andrew Lichtenberger all among the final seven. Cantu came into the final table with a decent chip advantage and looked a good bet to prevail, even with such a tough group to get past. He got to heads up with Larry Wright but could never gain any traction and crumbled to finish second for $63,048. Wright took home the all important bracelet as well as a prize of $101,975.
Event #31 $1,500 No Limit Hold'em saw 2,811 players take to the felt in a bid to get their hands on some of the $3,794,850 prize pool. In the end it was nearly a fairytale victory for 2009 Main Event winner Joe Cada, who reached heads up play against Carter Phillips only to lose out at the final hurdle. Cada did make his second biggest ever WSOP cash of $412,424, but will still be reeling after coming so close to being the first Main Event of the past decade to win another bracelet. For Phillips it was his second ever WSOP bracelet and he received $664,130 for navigating such a large field.
Just 178 players took to the felt in event #32 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E and of the 24 players to cash there isn't a single unknown. The final table was very impressive, with Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey headlining among Matt Waxman, Dan Kelly, David "Bakes" Baker, Abe Mosseri, John Monnette and Paul Sokoloff. Ivey and Hellmuth finished fifth and fourth respectively before Baker took on Limit specialist Monnette heads up for the bracelet. Monnette was at his third final table of the series, having already won the $5k Seven Card Stud and finishing third in a $5k Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo event, and was probably favourite against Bakes. It was David Baker who eventually prevailed to claim his second ever WSOP bracelet and $451,779 in prize money.
Event #33 $1,000 No Limit Hold'em had a huge field of 2,795 players and took three days to complete with an intense final table to boot. Deep into the final table a memorable three handed match between Matt Stout, Samuel Gerber and Max Steinberg began, with plenty of action and big hands as well as some fantastic calls from all three players. Stout was the first of the trio to fall and Steinberg never looked back as he entered heads up play. Gerber was no match for Steinberg and finished second for $273,385. Steinberg won his first WSOP bracelet and took home $440,238 as well as the coveted jewellery as reward for beating such a large field.
Six-Handed Pot Limit Omaha is one of the most aggressive and exciting games played at the moment and 419 players paid up the $5,000 entry fee to play it in event #34. After three exciting days of play, it was Japan's Naoya Kihara who eventually finished top of the pile to claim his own and Japan's first ever WSOP bracelete. Kihara also took home a huge prize of $512,029 for winning the event. He defeated the unfortunate Chris De Maci heads up, the American having little chance against Kihara's excellent play and phenomenal luck. Other notables that cashed in this tournament include Joseph Cheong, Kevin MacPhee and Tom Marchese.
The most recent bracelet handed out was in event #35 $2,500 Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No Limit) and it was Dutch player Joep van den Bijgaart that went into the final table with a huge chip lead. Also sat at the final table, albeit with a relative short stack, was Phil Ivey. Ivey had entered this tournament five hours late after busting the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E final table and somehow managed to build up enough chips to make the final. He eventually finished eighth for $21,699, once again missing out on the jewellery he craves. Chris Tryba was the player who eventually claimed the title, defeated Canadian pro Erik Cajelais heads up to win $210,107.
Phil Ivey leads the Player of the Year rankings, just ahead of John Monnette. Andrew Frankenberger and Phil Hellmuth sit in third and fourth place but are well off the pace of the top two.