Until Sunday, the 2016 World Series of Poker focus has been on Jason Mercier. And for good reason. The PokerStars Team Pro has two bracelets and a 2nd place finish before the midway point of the series this year.
Which is a pretty darned impressive. In fact, what Mercier accomplished over just a one-week period was arguably the greatest performance in WSOP history. His story has been even more attention-grabbing than the return of Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer.
But there’s now someone else who deserves some of that spotlight. His name is Ian Johns, and he’s a Las Vegas cash game pro who resides in Washington State.
Johns won his second bracelet of the series on Sunday in Event #28, the $10,000 Limit Hold’em. He did so by outlasting some great players, including Brian Rast. The victory was good for $290,635, but it also put him in contention for WSOP Player of the Year against what had looked to be a shoe-in for Mercier up until that point.
Not only did Johns win his second bracelet of 2016: he’s now won three in his career. His previous gold was a decade ago in a $3K Limit Hold’em event.
Johns’ accomplishments are no fluke. Although he does spend more time grinding cash games, when he does play tournaments, he’s consistently in contention. We’ll want to keep a close eye on how this heads-up race for POY unfolds in the coming weeks.
Actor James Woods plays the role of a poker player quite well. Thus far, he has three cashes at the 2016 WSOP. One of those came in Event #29, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em on Sunday.
Woods made a deep run through a massive field of 1,796, but busted in 34th place just before Sunday’s action concluded. It was a brilliant performance by a great actor.
After Two Days of play, David Williams, a popular pro and 2006 bracelet winner, is the leader heading into the final day of the tournament, with 31 players remaining.
Williams has 1,209,000 chips when final table play resumes today at noon Pacific time. Most watching the remainder of this event will be cheering him on, because there aren’t any other big names left in the field. First place will pay $401,494.
After Day One in Event #32, the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Shaun Deeb is second in chips as he chases his second career bracelet. He won his first in 2015 in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em championship.
Deeb is a big name pro who attracts attention by frequently making controversial statements. He’s also appeared numerous times on Poker Night in America. He’s one of those guys who is very polarizing, and other players either love him or hate him.
His buddy Matt Glantz is 6th in chips as play resumes today 2 pm in Las Vegas. A heads-up battle between Glantz and Deeb would be quite entertaining, that’s for sure. But there is a long way to go before that can happen. The dynamic duo will need to outlast players such as Eli Elezra and Jason Mercier to get into a heads-up confrontation, and as we all know, that’s no small mountain to climb.
Coming up next at the Rio is Event #33, the $1,500 Summer Solstice, a five-day tournament, and Event #34, the $1,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit). Event #33 is expected to attract one of the largest fields of the summer and should have some nice paydays for the top finishers. Stay tuned.