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The World Series of Poker: It’s our Woodstock!

by Shari Geller

The 2014 WSOP got underway on May 27 with Tournament Director Jack Effel modestly announcing, “This is our Olympics. This is our Woodstock. This is our celebration” as the WSOP literally rained money on the players, shooting $10,000 in dollar bills out of air cannons as participants and spectators alike scrambled to pick up the loot.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart promised “a slew of events that will create millionaires this summer,” and already one new millionaire has been crowned.  Event #8 was the return of last year’s “Millionaire Maker” and its popularity brought in a whopping 7,977 runners, making it the second-largest WSOP tournament in history and inflating its top prize to $1.3 million.

More than halfway through the 45th Annual World Series of Poker many familiar names have added to their bracelet list in both inaugural, classic and newer high-profile events. This year the WSOP launched the first ever dealer’s choice event. The $1,500 Dealer’s Choice Six-Handed event (#41) saw Robert Mizrachi nab his second WSOP title topping a field of 419 who chose from any of 16 different games during the tournament.

Among those also joining the two-time bracelet club so far this year are Brian Yoon, whose first bracelet came in last year’s “Little One for One Drop” and repeated this year in the $5,000 8-Max event (#35), Dan Kelly, winning one of the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em events (#43), John Kabbaj, winner of $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split 8-or-better event (#25), 2009 Main Event Champ Joe Cada, outlasting an impres - sive field in the $10,000 Six-handed No-limit Hold ‘em event (#32), fellow Main Event final tablemate Eric Buchman winning the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event (#34) and German pro George Danzer. Danzer is making a serious run on 2014 WSOP Player of the Year, taking down both the $10,000 Razz (#18) and the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud High-Low Eight-or-Better (#38) events for his first two bracelets after a long, impressive, but bracelet-free career.

Also ending a bracelet drought was 30-year old poker pro Jordan Morgan who took down the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Event (#44) besting 1,914 runners including familiar names such as Men Nguyen, Barry Greenstein, and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Justin Bonomo has been a familiar name in poker circles for years but he had yet to win a WSOP event. But he finally broke through with his first win topping a field of 1,587 to win the $1,500 No-limit Six Handed event (#11). Two-time WPT Champ Tuan Le grabbed his first WSOP bracelet with a win in the $10,000 Triple Draw Lowball event (#5), just edging out Bonomo heads up. Alex Bolotin, winner of the 2009 Ante Up for Africa non-bracelet charity event, grabbed his first bracelet winning the $1,500 No Limit Hold ‘em Shoot Out (#6). Paul Volpe not only won his first bracelet, but denied Daniel Negreanu his seventh, in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball championship (Event #13). Top ranked online tournament player Calvin Anderson added a bracelet to his impressive resume after winning the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low (#30).

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2014 WSOP Event #65 $10,000 Main Event Championship Day 1C

by Joseph Smith Sr.

World Series of Poker Main Event Day 1 played the third and final flight today at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  Now those players with chips will move on to one of the two Day 2's  scheduled to be played Tuesday and Wednesday.  Current plans call for those players surviving Day 1A and Day 1B to play on Tuesday, Day 2A-B; while those that survived Day 1C will return for their second day, Day 2C to play on Wednesday.

As predicted, today's final Day 1 flight was huge.  The 3768 players that bought a $10,000 seat for Day 1C filled every available seat in the Rio's Convention area and officials had to use overflow tables set up close to the main casino outside Buzio's Restaurant.  

World Series of Poker officials have released numbers for the main event late this evening after the entry period closed.  The number of players in the 2014 Main Event totaled 6,683 with a breakdown as follows:  Day1A—771, Day1B—2144 and Day 1C—3768.  The 2014 Main Event surpasses the 2013 Main Event by 331 players.  2014 is the fifth largest WSOP Main Event in the history of the event.

This year's prize pool is a staggering $62,820,200.  The winner will receive $10,000,000.  Seven of the November Nine at the final table will receive more than a million in prize money.  Each of the final nine will leave for the 4 month break with ninth place money amounting to $730,725.  The top 693 finishers will receive at least $18,406 in prize money.

WSOP record holder with 13 bracelets, Phil Hellmuth, strolled into the big poker show about 8:30 to begin his quest for bracelet #14.  In his usual fashion he showed later than previous years and without the fanfare and dramatics of years past.  Unfortunately, that's a part of this event many of us wait to see.  By Day 1C quitting time Hellmuth had already doubled his 30K starting stack.

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2014 WSOP Event #65 $10,000 Main Event Championship

by Joseph Smith Sr.

Sunday saw the second flight of the World Series of Poker Main Event get under way at high noon.  The most famous words in poker were given to the crowd by non other than TV great, Ray Romano, “Shuffle Up and Deal!”  The cards were in the air and Day 2B was officially underway.

The second group will follow the exact format of play as does all three flights.  Play is defined as five levels of two hours each with a twenty minute break after each.  A ninety minute dinner break comes after the first three levels have completed.

Those players with clips will bag up and return for one of the three Day 2s.  Those lucky players surviving Day 2 will then return for Day 3 which will combine all the remaining players for the first time.

A little news from Saturday's Day 1A.  The number of entrants taking seats for the first day of play in the 2014 WSOP Main Event was 771, down from previous years.  Now that online poker is once again offered to select groups in the US it was assumed that Main Event numbers would be equal to or better than those posted during the boom years, but don't be too disappointed.

Day 1C on Monday is expected to be huge and may well establish a record for a first day of the Main Event.  Even if we don't set a new record or even tie the old old one the 2014 has been a tremendous success and once again reminds the world that anyone of age with a buy-in can sit down at a table and play with the legends of the game.

I say game instead of sport since many don't accept the game of poker into the world of sports.  Most of these people have never sat for 10-12 hours in some of the worlds most uncomfortable chairs while making decisions that involve millions of parameters and dollars.  I believe it does belong in the sports category based simply on the fact it's called a “game.”

Know any other sport that will allow you and any other ordinary player to walk onto the field and compete?  Play poker and you can do exactly that.  Like most other sports you will not be favored to win; but you get an opportunity to play with the best in the game.

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2014 WSOP Event #62A $1,111 The Little Drop for One Drop

by Joseph Smith Sr.

This is the little brother to The Big Drop for One Drop.  Buy-in is $1,111 of which $111 goes to the One Drop Foundation.  The junior event saw 4,496 players enter the event which pays a large $637,539 to the winner.  And yes, they also receive a WSOP gold bracelet.  The top 468 finishers (that's 52 nine-handed tables) receive at least $1,780 from the $4,046,400 prize pool.

Players have the option of unlimited re-entry into the tournament during the first 4 levels of play if they are eliminated.  The charitable cause gives many an excuse to do just that.  It's also provides the most bang for the buck.  Where else can a poker player find a tournament with a $1,111 buy-in that offers the winner $637 thousand and change?  

And, we all know there only one place and way to get a World Series of Poker gold bracelet.  You have to play in the WSOP and win an event to receive one of the bracelets that's considered by many to be priceless.

Heads-up play between Igor Dubinskyy and Ted Driscoll began with Driscoll holding a small 5-to-4  advantage in chips.  Dubinskyy quickly evened the chip count and began pulling ahead.  In slightly less than a half hour Igor Dubinskyy had all the chips and the win.  He collected the $637,539 winner's share and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Theodore Driscoll received $394,281 for his second place effort.

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2014 WSOP Event #64 $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship

by Joseph Smith Sr.

This is the final event before the Main Event.  The world championship of Pot-Limit Omaha.  A group of 418 players ponied up the $10,000 buy-in for a shot at proving their prowess in the game of Omaha.  It's also the last opportunity to win one of the 2014 WSOP event bracelets.

Prize money goes to the top 45 finishers whom receive a minimum of $18,585.  Among the players earning a payday and another WSOP cash were Alex Kravchenko. Leif Force, David Williams, JC Tran, Steve Billirakis, Ludovic Lacay and Phil Laak.

Offering a $3,929,200 prize pool means the winner receives close to a million dollars in addition to the bracelet.  Heads-up play began a little before midnight between Pat Walsh and Javed Abrahans.  Walsh enjoyed a 2-to-1 chip advantage over Abrahams as one-on-one play began.

A few minutes before 2 AM local time Pat Walsh was pulling all the chips into his stacks and Javed Abraham was on his way to the cashier cage to collect second place money of $570,284.

Pat Walsh receives $923,379 for first place and he also gets the final WSOP gold event bracelet, his first WSOP gold.

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2014 WSOP Event #65 Day 1A $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event

by Joseph Smith Sr.

The most prestigious poker tournament in the world began today when the first day of Day 1 welcomed thousand of players and shortly after high noon 2006 Main Event Champion Joseph Hachem gave the that famous command, “Shuffle up and Deal!”   And just like that the cards were in the air and all those thousands of hopefuls sitting behind identical stacks of 30,000 in play money, all daydreaming of owning the fabled Championship bracelet for 2014.

No-Limit Hold'em is the game for the Main Event.  Due to the overwhelming number of entrants Day 1 has been divided into three flights, A-B-or-C.  Day 2 will also be played as 3 flights, A-B-or-C.  Day 3 (7th day of Main Event play) will combine the field into one group for the remainder of the tournament.  The group will continue play for day 4, Day 5, Day 6 and on Day 7 play will end when the final November Nine is reached.

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2014 WSOP Event #63 $1,500 Six-Handed 10-Game Mix

by Joseph Smith Sr.

A $1,500 buy-in tournament with two controlling parameters, six handed tables and a rotation of 10 different poker formats.  The ten different games are no-limit 2-7 single draw, 2-7 triple draw, razz, pot-limit Omaha, Omaha eight-or-better, stud, stud hi-lo eight-or-better, limit hold'em, no-limit hold'em and badugi.

Most poker players will have some knowledge of the 10 listed games or at least 9 of the 10.  How about the last one, badugi?  Can you offer an explanation of how this game is played?  Did you know that it was probably first played in Korea?

Here's our quickie explanation of the game.  It's a variation of triple draw poker with the winning hand values of lowball.  A major difference between badugi and other poker formats is the number of cards to make a hand.  In other poker games the best hand is determined by the best 5 cards.  In badugi the best 4 cards make up the hand.  The best badugi hand would be an A234 of different suits.  The worst hand would be KKKK since Aces are the lowest card.  Badugi is considered to be an excellent pot builder.

The game was first offered at the WSOP in 2011.  Today's event attracted 445 entrants and built a prize pool of $600,750 paid to the top 48 finishers.  The winner receives $153,220 plus a WSOP gold bracelet.  Among the notables making the money were Allen Cunningham, Marcel Luske, Brandon Shack-Harris, Mel Judah and Phil Laak.

Heads-up found Bryn Kenney of New York facing Jan Suchanek from Nelson, New Zealand.  Kenney enjoyed a 3-to-1 chip lead and needed less than 10 minutes to claim the WSOP gold and cash.

Jan Suchanek will head south with an extra $94,618 in his pocket.

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2014 WSOP Event #61 $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship

by Joseph Smith Sr.

They're playing stud poker over at the WSOP going on now at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  They're playing the world's Championship of Seven Card Stud poker.  The Championship event began with 102 players laying $10,000 each for a seat in this classic format poker event.

A prize pool of $958,800 scheduled for prorated distribution to the top 16 finishers and one World Series of Poker gold bracelet awaited the conclusion of the contest.  Although the field was small by WSOP standards the final table included some of tournament poker's brightest stars headed up by thirteen bracelet holder Phil Hellmuth plus Todd Brunson, the son of poker's most celebrated statesmen.

A further scan of the list of the sixteen players in the money revealed even more well known pros including John Cernuto (14th), Barry Greenstein (13th) and Nikolay Losev (12th).

Heads-up play between Todd Brunson and Matt Grapenthien began with Brunsoin holding a 2-to-1 chip advantage.  Following the first break Grapenthien cruised into a slight lead which was short lived as Brunson came right back and evened the chip count.  After 2 hours of heads-up play the chip stacks were close to even.   Matt Grapenthien began to steadily move Brunson's chips across the table and then all of the chips were in the pot and Brunson was against the wall.

Grapenthien showed the bigger pair and Brunson left in second place taking $165,891 for second place.   Matt Grapenthien joins the WSOP gold bracelet club and also takes away $268,473 in cash plus the title of World's best Seven Card Stud player.

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A Sad Day for Poker - Well known Poker Player Chad Brown Passes

by Joseph Smith Sr.

A sad day for the world of poker.  Well known poker player Chad Brown lost his battle with cancer on July 2, 2014 and moved on to the big game.  He was a multitalented individual that had an ability to master most anything he attempted.

He was known throughout the entertainment world and he also made a name for himself in sports.  Poker became his primary pursuit during his final years.  He won a big event during the 2006 World Championship of Online Poker and finished second in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship invitational event.  In 2014 he was awarded a WSOP gold bracelet for his contributions to poker.

Over the years I have photographed Chad in numerous poker events and circumstances.  He always exhibited class and was a true gentleman without regard to the moment.  He always had time to meet and greet fans.

Chad Brown was truly a class act and will be sorely missed.

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2014 WSOP Event #59 $3,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better

by Joseph Smith Sr.

One more Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event finished early Thursday morning.  This one had a $3,000 buy-in and gathered 457 entrants to do battle for some cash and most especially a piece of WSOP gold. A $1,247,610 prize pool awaited the top 54 finishers with the winner schedule to receive $286,976 in cash and a year's worth of bragging rights.

Among the notables was a familiar poker pro and the 2004 Main Event runner-up, David Williams, cashing out in 6th place.  Additional poker pros making the cash out line was Brandon Shack-Harris, James van Alstyne, Chino Rheem and Justin Bonomo.

Event #59 finally came to a conclusion a few minutes after 2 AM  when Zack Milchman had all his remaining chips in the pot and couldn't beat Phillip Hui's pair of Tens.  Milchman of Delray Beach, Florida collected $177,609 for second place.

Phillip Hui received $286,076 in cash is now the owner of a 2014 WSOP champions gold bracelet which he will proudly show to all his family and friends back home in San Antonio, Texas.

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World Series of Poker


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