Today’s the day: the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event is finally here. The tournament you’ve all been waiting for since Joe McKeehen finished off his November Nine opponents eight months ago will get underway Saturday at 11 am PT at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
McKeehen would love to become the first back-to-back champ since Johnny Chan in 1987-1988. But the odds are stacked against him. When Chan won his consecutive titles, he outlasted fields under 200 players. McKeehen will have to again defeat a field that’s likely to exceeds 6,500 players.
Stu Ungar (1980-1981), Doyle Brunson (1976-1977), and Johnny Moss (1970-1971) all went back-to-back. Greg Raymer has come closer than anyone since the Poker Boom era began in 2003 towards accomplishing this incredible feat. He won the title in 2004 and then finished 25th the following year.
Prior to Chris Moneymaker’s win in 2003, the Main Event champion was almost always one of the best players in the world. That’s because very few players back then would pony up $10,000 to enter a poker tournament unless they had skill.
Nowadays, with such large fields, it’s more challenging for one of the top players to make the final table, let alone win the bracelet. But it isn’t impossible. Perhaps the 2016 champion will be a Daniel Negreanu (who just missed the final table in 2015) or Phil Hellmuth. Or, it could be someone the poker world isn’t familiar with. What we do know is the champ will become extremely rich and an instant poker celebrity.
Koray Aldemir isn’t a household name to many poker players, but he is a talented high stakes player. After Day One of Event #67, the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop, he has the largest chip stack. There are 88 players remaining, but the sign-up period hasn’t ended.
Aldemir will need to run well for two more days in order to win the bracelet and multimillion dollar payday. The tournament is stacked with top pros.
That includes Fedor Holz, who is breathing down his neck for the chip lead. Holz only has three cashes at the WSOP this year, but he finished second in the $300,000 buy-in Aria Super High Roller Bowl last month. The man he lost to heads-up, Rainer Kempe, is 53rd in chips.
Phil Hellmuth survived another Day One, but his 589,000 chip stack is barely above starting stacks (500,000) and below average. The Poker Brat just can’t seem to get on track this summer. He’s made it through Day One in many events, but hasn’t been able to put it together afterwards. He’s running out of opportunities to win his 15th bracelet.
In Event #65, the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship, you can pretty much count on Jeff Madsen’s epic troll job. The poker pro enters the event each year and is forced to pay the $9K surcharge over the otherwise $1,000 buyin, since he’s a man.
He posts during the tournament bogus hands to jokingly make women appear to be clueless poker players. Madsen didn’t make it through Day One (no doubt making many women happy), but he did accomplish his goal of irritating Anna Khait.
“Busted to the douchebag guy in the ladies event that was a douche bag long before he registered a ladies event,” she posted on Twitter of Madsen.
Khait, one of the top female poker players in the world, was only kidding, by the way. We think.
Doug Polk and Ryan Fee have something in common with the Steiner Brothers of the WWW: they make for a great tag team. The duo took down Event #61, the $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em, on Friday. Fee deserves most of the credit at the final table. Polk only came over on breaks during the One Drop event, which he busted from yesterday.
Both players were awarded bracelets in this inaugural event. There’s a good chance the Tag Team event will be back again next year at the 2017 WSOP. Those who competed gave it two thumps up.
Event #62, the $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha, played down to the final three players on Friday. The tournament will restart at 2 pm Pacific on Saturday, with Jens Kyllonen holding the chip lead. Dan Smith is 3rd in chips and would love to finally win his first gold bracelet.
Event #66, the $1,000 WSOP.com Online Poker championship, saw 1,247 players battle it out online at WSOP.com. Only six players will be headed to Las Vegas and the Rio on Monday at 11 am to battle it out live for the bracelet.