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).
Elsewhere, the three-time bracelet winner club added some new members. Vanessa Selbst won the $25,000 Mixed Max Event (#2) for $871,148, becoming the first female player to win three bracelets in open events. Magic: The Gathering expert Brock Parker won the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event (#10) and former wunderkind Dutch Boyd snared the $1,000 NLHE event (#33). Belgium’s Davidi Kitai won Event #15, $3,000 Six- handed NLHE, becoming the first non-American to nab a bracelet this year. Other notables to grab gold include Ted Forrest who won his sixth bracelet, denying Phil Hellmuth his fourteenth, in the $1,500 Seven-Card Razz event (#7) and Dan Heimiller who won the Seniors event (#17), bouncing back from being down to just 1.5 times the blind ten-handed to take home his second bracelet.
The next millionaire will be the winner of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (Event #46), followed by the winner of the million dollar buy-in The Big One for One Drop (Event #57) and the granddaddy of them all, the Main Event. That annual ritual starts on July 5th and will again wrap up in November with its final table. But this year, there is a $10 million guaranteed payday for the winner, ensuring at least the second largest prize in the event’s illustrious history.