The 2016 World Series of Poker wouldn’t be complete without Howard Lederer joining in on the fun. Not after he teased us all with an apology a week before the series started.
Lederer hadn’t publicly apologized for his role in the Full Tilt Poker scandal in 2011 until last month. Doing so led many to believe, due to the timing, he had plans to compete in this summer’s WSOP. Rumors also began swirling around that Chris “Jesus” Ferguson would do the same.
Both former poker greats were essentially banned from the poker world for their roles in the Full Tilt Poker scandal and hadn’t participated in any WSOP events since 2010. Ferguson showed up to play early in the series, and now Lederer is officially back as well.
The Professor arrived at the Rio on Saturday to compete in Event #16: $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball, joining a field of exactly 100 players. He refused to address the media, simply telling one reporter that he already issued a statement.
Ferguson, upon his return to the Rio, has also avoided answering any questions from the media. Both were previously among the most popular players in the game, but now don’t have many fans. In fact, some think they should be banned from the WSOP.
Lederer is one of 34 players left in the field but if he wants to win his third career bracelet, and first since 2001, he’s going to need a sick heater on Sunday. The former Full Tilt Poker executive and poker TV commentator finished the day with just 20,300 chips. Alex Leneau, the chip leader, has 454,000.
Lederer isn’t the only reason to follow this event. The tournament is packed with big name pros such as Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Brian Hastings, Anthony Zinno, Scott Seiver, and Jason Mercier. Matusow, known as “The Mouth” for being so mouthy, is second in chips with 367,600.
If you don’t know the name Rep Porter, you should. One of the most overlooked players in the game, Porter has more than $3 million in live poker tournament winnings.
At the WSOP, he has 38 career cashes. Oh, and now he has three gold bracelets. Porter, a Washington state resident, dominated Event #13, $1,500 Seven Card Razz for $142,624. He beat out 460 other players to win the bracelet.
At the final table, Daniel Negreanu was right there hoping to earn the seventh bracelet of his illustrious career. It wasn’t meant to be on this day. Kid Poker busted out in 4th place and then registered the $10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball tournament where he advanced through Day One.
Rep Porter wasn’t the only one to win a bracelet on Saturday. Ryan Laplante beat out the largest pot-limit Omaha field in live tournament history (2,483). Laplante hails from Minnesota and won the first bracelet in his life.
Due to the low $565 buy-in in Event #12, most of the top pros stayed away. Similar to the Colossus, also a $565 event, that meant many new faces entered the tournament. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Good for the game, but bad for those who want to see familiar faces at the final table.
Darryll Fish was the most accomplished player at the final table. He now has 28 career WSOP cashes but isn’t exactly a household name to the casual poker audience. Fish finished in 8th place and still has yet to win a bracelet.
The most intriguing part about Event #14: $1,500 Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em is two lucky poker players will take home $1 million (1st place actually receives $1,065,403).
The tournament began on Friday with the first Day One flight and then a second flight on Saturday. In total, 7,190 players ponied up the $1,500 entrance fee in hopes of winning $1 million. But only 1,172 players are still in the hunt.
Day Two on Sunday should be intense right off the bat. The money bubble will burst when the first 97 players of the day bust.
New events kicking off on Sunday will be Event #17, the No-Limit Holde’em with a $1,000 buyin, which starts at 11 am in Las Vegas, and Event #18, a three-day H.O.R.S.E event that will run players $3,000 to get into. You can expect a talented field on the latter event especially, as only the best can master the five poker game varieties slated for this championship. This one will start play at 3 pm West Coast time.