Day 32 at the World Series of Poker was all about the big name pros. Not only did the epic Poker Players Championship begin, a talented pro won a bracelet and two others could do so on Sunday.
Brandon Shack-Harris, a bracelet winner in 2014, conquered Event #51, the $10,000 8-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha. Shack-Harris, who lives in Chicago and has 20 lifetime WSOP cashes to his name, now has more than $2.6 million in live poker tournament winnings.
He defeated Loren Klein in an intense heads-up match. Shack-Harris had the chip lead from the start and never relinquished it, but Klein did come close to catching up at one point.
This tournament was originally scheduled for three days, but a fourth day on Saturday was added. Heading into Day Four, six players remained. Brandon was the last man standing out of the original 400 players.
Event #55, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the World Series each year. The event began on Saturday and will play out over a five-day period. A winner is scheduled to emerge on July 6, three days before the start of the Main Event.
With registration still open, 87 players have entered and 84 remain heading into Day Two. The prize pool won’t be announced until registration closes, but first place should pay in excess of $1.5 million.
This tournament is an eight-game mix (NLH, LH, Razz, Stud, Stud Hi-Low, PLO, Omaha Hi-Low, and 2-7 Triple Draw) with 250,000 chip starting stacks. After Day One, the great Scott Seiver holds a slight chip lead (593,000) over Russia’s Timofey Kuznetsov (557,600).
Robert Mizrachi sits in 3rd place (500,200). His brother, Michael, has 433,000 chips. The Mizrachi brothers have a combined seven career bracelets. Robert is the most recent winner of one, having beaten Event #3 this year, the $10,000 Seven Card Stud.
Brian Rast, winner of the 2015 Super High Roller Bowl for $7.5 million, ended Day One with 463,900. Daniel Negreanu (337,900) and the controversial Howard Lederer (316,200) are coming back for Day Two. Scotty Nguyen, on the other hand, is not.
Phil Hellmuth also still has plenty of dancing chips (233,200). But it was another slow start for him. His 2016 WSOP hasn’t gone as planned. The Poker Brat has only come within striking distance of his 15th bracelet one time so far this summer.
Brian Hastings (14,700) and George Danzer (62,800) bagged chips after Day One, but are going to need a miracle to do it again on Sunday.
Don’t let Gavin Smith’s sometimes goofy player antics fool you: this Canadian poker pro has competed at the highest levels of the game for many years. During the poker boom era, he was always a fan favorite on televised poker shows such as Poker After Dark.
But he hasn’t fared too well over the past few years at the World Series, and hasn’t won a bracelet since his first and only one back in 2010. So it’s good to see him make his back and perhaps be just a day away from winning number two.
Smith is the overwhelming chip leader in Event #53, the $1,500 Mixed PLO/8; Omaha 8/8; Big O with just five players left. A victory on Sunday for Gavin would be a victory for the old school poker pros. Again.
Andrew Lichtenberger is in search of his first career bracelet. He holds a massive chip lead over Craig Blight in Event #52, the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em. They are the only two remaining players out of a field of 1,125. Play will resume on Sunday at noon at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Event #56, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Day One of three, starts on Sunday. With this event being an 11 am start time, don’t expect 2015 Main Event champ Joe McKeehen to be competing. He has trouble waking up that “early” in the morning.
Cards will be in the air for Day One of Event #57, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low at 3 pm Pacific time. Perhaps the champ will be awake in time to register for that one.