It’s ten days into the 2016 World Series of Poker now, and 11 poker players have now been awarded a bracelet. Two of those were handed out on Friday at the Rio in Las Vegas.
But the arguable highlight of the day was the one that got away, when 73-year old Pierre Neuville (he of 2015’s November Nine) just missed his first WSOP gold in Event #10, the 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em.
The event saw 1,477 players vying for the gold bracelet, including the 2015 Main Event final tabler. Neuville, given his age, defied the odds last summer when he reached that status, ultimately busting out in 7th place. Neuville proved with this event that his talent is no fluke, even if he just missed the ultimate glory of a bracelet and the top cash.
When heads-up play began between the Belgian and 46-year-old Mike Cordell of Arkansas, no one should have been surprised if Neuville had overcome a nearly 20-to-1 chip disadvantage to take down the tournament.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. After just 13 hands, Cordell finished off the senior for the bracelet, winning the $346,088 first prize money. Neuville will have to wait for another opportunity to win his first WSOP event. No one will be counting him out for future events or making any age jokes now, that’s for sure.
Mike Sexton, the voice of the World Poker Tour, recently said that if Chris “Jesus” Ferguson would speak up about his role in the Full Tilt Poker scandal in 2011, the poker community would no longer despise him. But Ferguson has never released a public statement explaining his actions or apologizing for his role.
That reality didn’t keep him from returning to the World Series of Poker for the first time since 2010 this season. And the five-time bracelet winner didn’t miss a beat, as he already had one cash to his name heading into Event #12, $565 Pot-Limit Omaha, which began play on Thursday.
On Day Two, Friday, Ferguson was still in the thick of things until late in the day, when he busted in 13th place out of 2,483. Although many poker players were upset that the former Main Event champ returned to the Rio to play in this year’s WSOP, no major confrontations between him and other players have occurred. Not yet, anyway.
He’s certainly easy to spot: his long hair and trademark black leather coat and felt hat (which must be awfully hot outside in the three-digit Las Vegas temps) haven’t changed since the beginning of poker time.
Now that Ferguson has already arrived and played, many are wondering if Howard Lederer will show up to play sometime this summer as well. The former Full Tilt Poker execs were loved in the poker community prior to April 2011, but have mostly stayed away from card rooms since. Lederer finally issued a public apology a few weeks ago via Daniel Negreanu’s blog, causing many to ponder if he plans on playing in this year’s Series. But if he does, he’s laying low for now.
There are nine remaining players in Event #12, with Syed Shah of Florida leading the pack. Play will resume and conclude on Saturday.
Unlike Chris Ferguson, many are actually rooting for Daniel Negreanu to win his seventh bracelet. Heading into the third and final day on Saturday of Event #13, the $1,500 Seven Card Razz, the Poker Hall of Famer is 4th in chips out of 12 remaining players. There were 461 participants who started the event.
Even at Negreanu’s star level, he still won’t be coasting this event, as tough competitors the likes of Shaun Deeb, David Benyamine, and Rep Porter are still in it. Russian poker pro Alexey Makarov, holds the chip lead at start of day.
Although he may not be a household name the way that Daniel is, Jean Gaspard is an accomplished poker pro. The Haitian took down Event #11, the $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed on Friday, beating out some talented pros, such as Dan Smith and John Monnette.
But this win was no fluke. The Chicago resident has now surpassed $2 million in career live tournament winnings and has cashed at the World Series of Poker a solid 19 times. Gaspard won $306,621 on Friday, the largest score of his already impressive career.