Is John Racener about to get the WSOP monkey off his back once and for all?
The 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up has been close before with a staggering 36 WSOP career cashes spanning nine years. Just no bracelet. Yet.
But now he’s got a chance to finish the deal once again.
Racener headlines the final four players left in Event #6, the $1,500 NLHE, which stopped play late Wednesday and will resume Thursday at noon to play down to a winner.
Racener and two others, however, are all chasing start-of-day Thursday chip leader Michael Addamo, who has a stack almost twice as big as his second-place opponent and sits comfortably with 6.5 million going into four-handed play.
Addamo, an Aussie, leads American Davis Aalvik (3.6 million), Swede Peter Eichhardt (2.6) million, and Racener (2.6 million).
And adding to the drama, in addition to Racener, the remaining three players are all also chasing their first gold WSOP bracelets.
Notable Day Three busts included Day Two chip leader Justin Young, who flamed out in 22nd place ($13,786) and WSOP bracelet winner Anthony Zinno. Zinno, who has $5.9 in career earnings has been one of the hottest players on tour over the last two years, fell in 8th ($45,582) when his pocket jacks lost a race against 6th-place finisher Bruno Borges’ Big Slick.
Finishing in fifth place was Ireland’s Timothy Farrelly, who continues his hot streak at the 2016 series. Farrelly, who earned $106,115 for his three days of work, cashed in 55th place in Event #4, the $1,000 NLHE Top-Up Turbo.
Argentina’s Richard Dubini, the chip leader when the tournament reached two tables, was the first to drop on Wednesday, going out in 9th and earning $32,521. American Raymond Phu finished 7th and took home $59,787, while Borges had to settle for 6th ($79,241) after being knocked out by Addamo, who already has one WSOP cash this series for finishing 2,894th in the Event #2, the $565 Colossus II.
No matter where Addamo finishes today, he’s guaranteed his biggest career live tournament cash to add to his $174K in career winnings.
But there’s little doubt that when the players return on Thursday, all eyes will be on Racener, who tweeted after Day Three he could hardly contain his anticipation of getting back to the table to chase that elusive gold bracelet.
Ryan D’Angelo wants to be honest about something: he doesn’t even really play a lot of Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball.
But you wouldn’t know it by the way he dominated the final table of Event #7, the$1,500 Deuce-to-Seven Lowball (No-Limit). D’Angelo topped the star-studded, 279-player field in just under six hours Wednesday for the top prize of $92,338 and his first WSOP bracelet after 20 cashes in World Series events over eight years.
Although Ryan claims Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball isn’t his best game, he says it’s one he enjoys maybe as much as any he plays.
D’Angelo denied John Monnette for his first career WSOP bracelet once again. Monette, who earned $57,001, had his 43rd cash in the series and has now cashed in an event every year for the last 10 years.
Notable final table finishers included renowned pros “Captain” Tom Franklin (3rd/$38,582) and Barry Greenstein. Greenstein, a 2010 inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame, was bounced in 9th ($5,781).
Others who made the final table, but fell just short of their goal, included Dan Kelly (4th, $26,632), Konstantin Maslak (5th, $18,775), Todd Barlow (6th, $13,524), Alex Dovzhenko (7th, $9,959), and Joao Vieira (8th, $7,501).
D’Angelo told multiple media outlets after his win that he planned to donate a portion of his prize money to a charity in South Africa called the Food Gardens Foundation, which helps underprivileged residents learn how to grow their own food.
Four players will return Thursday to vie for the gold bracelet and bragging rights in Event #9, the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship.
Most eyes, however, will be on well-known head’s-up maven, Olivier Busquet of France, who has a whopping $6.8 million in career live tournament earnings, but not a single WSOP bracelet to show for it.
Starting with the Round of 32, Busquet topped tough pros Chance Kornuth, Jared Jaffe (16th, $24, 596), and Orlando Romero (8th, $56,202) to reach the final four.
Joining Busquet on the other side of the table in the semifinals today will be Alan Percal, who is a bit of a mystery to the poker world at the moment. Percal, a 23-year-old actuary from Miami, has less than $40,000 in career earnings and no WSOP cashes to his credit, got here by beating Brian Rast, Jeff Gross, Alan Wehbi, Konstantin Ramazanov (15th, $24, 596), and Benjamin Geisman (7th, $56,202).
The other semifinal features John Smith, a 69-year-old highway contractor from La Habra Heights, California, taking on London’s Alex Luneau, who is the only non-American player remaining and guaranteed his biggest career cash, even if he finishes 4th.
Smith, however, will be a tough hill to climb for Luneau. Smith is closing in one $1 million in career earnings and he has been here before, taking 11th at the 2014 WSOP.
Antonio Esfandiari, who finished 11th for $24,596, couldn’t work his magic into another deep run in the event, nor could well-known pro Sam Stein, who went out in 9th and earned the same pay day as Esfandiari.
The winner Thursday will take home $320,574. Play resumes today at noon PT.
Bruno Fitoussi has a score to settle with the WSOP.
Fitoussi,who has $2.7 million in live tournament career earnings and 19 WSOP cashes spanning a 25-year poker career, is still seeking his first gold bracelet, and he would no doubt love to win it in today’s Event #11, the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Six-Handed Championship.
Fitoussi leads the “who’s who” field with 318,700 after the opening flight, with 41 players remaining.
Close behind Fitoussi are two guys who know a thing or two about winning bracelets: Brandon Shack-Harris (2nd overall in chips with 270,200) and Brian Hastings (3rd, 252,100). Well-known pro Dan Smith sits in fourth with 247,000.
When play resumes today at 2 pm at the Rio, other notables left in the field will include bracelet winners Greg “FTB” Mueller (16th, 161,500), Jennifer Harman (140,400, 20th), Dan Shak (24th, 124,900) and Jeff Lisandro (33rd, 88,600).
Phil Hellmuth (32nd, with 94,400) is still alive and seeking his record 15th gold bracelet. He went toe-to-toe with Fitoussi in several big hands late in Day One, with Fitoussi getting the better of Hellmuth in most and allowing him to grow his chip stack into the lead when play was called for the night.
The tournament, which allows players to chose between 19 different variations of poker when it comes around to their turn to deal, has attracted a small but incredibly talented field in its short existence. Eli Elezra, former Dealer’s Choice champ Robert Mizrachi, and Daniel Negreanu all busted before the end of Day One.
The Mizrachi Brothers, Michael and Danny, are both in the mix at Event #10, the $1,500 Six-Handed NLHE, but they’ll all be chasing Daniel Strelitz when play resumes at noon today. Strelitz held the chip lead after Day One with 250,800.
He broke two players just before play ended to assume the chip lead, and also came in 3rd in this very same event two years ago. Second in chips at start of play will be Eric Afriat (208,000), followed by Niccolo Steffanini (187,900).
Five former November Niners remain: Thomas Cannuli (179,800), Jesse Sylvia (113,200), Matt Jarvis (86,200), Josh Beckley (47,500,), and Pierre Neuville (16,500).
The year’s Colossus II champ, Ben Keeline, is also still alive with a stack of 54,200.
Of the 1,477 players who entered, only 183 remain, including notable Michael Sowers (10th, 133,000).