The 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event didn’t last long for the great Phil Ivey. Less than three days, to be exact.
The ten-time WSOP event bracelet winner waited until the Main to show up at the Rio in Las Vegas. He got off to a rocky start on Monday, then came back on Wednesday and grinded his way back to a respectable stack. But then it all came crumbling down on Thursday.
Ivey’s presence at the Rio probably wasn’t missed by some players who would rather not have to face him at the table. But many casual poker fans have been disappointed that he no longer competes in many Series tournaments these days.
It’s hard to blame Ivey for avoiding the WSOP considering he can make a killing in cash games over in Macau, China. But there are many out there who would love to see him catch Phil Hellmuth’s record 14 WSOP gold bracelets. That, apparently, won’t be happening any time soon.
Late in the day on Thursday, Adam Furgatch had just 6,000 chips, with the bubble about to burst. He put all his chips in the pot and ended up busting out in 1,012th place. The tournament pays 1,011 players, giving him the always-dubious honor of being the 2016 WSOP Bubble Boy.
Unlike most poker tournaments, the Furgatch didn’t go home empty handed. In World Series tradition, he was awarded a free $10,000 buy-in for next year’s Main Event. Not a bad consolation prize.
The moment he busted, you could sense a sigh of relief from the remaining small stacks. The other players stood up and cheered, knowing they’re guaranteed to make (at least some) money.
Kenny Hallaert, a Belgian poker pro, will have the most chips (1,709,000) when play kicks off on Friday at noon PT. He’s never won a WSOP bracelet, but does have an impressive 22 prior cashes at the World Series of Poker since 2009.
Jared Bleznick from New York is in 2nd place with 1,607,000. He is also seeking his first career bracelet. Bleznick is best known for finishing 2nd in a $10,000 PLO event at the WSOP in 2013 for $526,625.
Someone familiar to almost everyone these days, Antonio Esfandiari sits in the #7 spot at start of day Friday, with 1,381,000 chips heading into Day Four. The man with $27,025,235 in live tournament earnings, who is listed as the second-highest US all-time moneymaker (1st in California) on Hendon Mob, is always a crowd favorite.
Legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne loves to play poker, and this Main Event was hardly his first rodeo. You wouldn’t have known it by the sissy fit he threw on Twitter after he hit the rails, though.
Yes, he’s passionate about the game. But on Thursday, that passion may have gotten the best of him.
“Never been so angry in my life. Got Aces two hands in a row and both cracked. Once by two pair (KQ). Next hand sixes found a six on the flop!,” he posted.
That’s not even in the Top 100 bad beats in World Series history, but that didn’t really compute to Warne.
“Still in shock at what just happened, so sick!,” his second post stated.
And then he finished up with an expletive laced tirade. “If anyone says that’s poker I will put one on their chin, game of skill my a**. Get f#@?#%.”
Johnny Chan is the last player who ever won back-to-back Main Events (1987 and 1988), doing so at a time when fields were a fraction of what they are now and there were many fewer talented players to boot.
Last year’s champ Joe McKeehen won’t be matching Chan’s record, after he was sent to the rails short of the bubble on Thursday. He ran into some bad luck late in the day.
McKeehen’s exit leaves only four previous winners left in the field: Chan, Greg Raymer, Ryan Riess, and Tom McEvoy. Play resumes at noon Pacific today at the Rio in Las Vegas.