In a year when the pros have been killing one event after another, an amateur player has finally pulled one down for the little guys.
Hung Le, a 53-year old nail salon owner from Ohio, came to Las Vegas to “get lucky,” just like millions of others do each year. Most go home empty-handed, but Le is headed back to the Midwest with $888,888 more than he came with. And with five kids to feed, clothe, and educate, the Vietnamese immigrant is pretty darned happy about that situation.
Le’s big win came in Event #54, the $888 Crazy Eights No-Limit Hold’em. He beat out an intial field of 6,761 players, making his victory even more impressive for an amateur. More than that, it was his very first World Series tournament. Nice way to enter the fray.
To be honest, skill didn’t win out in this event. The champion knew he was outclassed talent-wise, but that didn’t stop him from taking chances. He gambled in a few iffy spots and continually hit the card(s) he needed: a sure-fire recipe for success. Better lucky than smart, as the old saying goes.
After three crazy days of play in this turbo event, Le was crowned champion. The casual poker player defeated Michael Lech of Alma, Arkansas heads-up for the title. Lech earned $401,888 for his efforts.
For those hoping for a third ladies’ win in a week, it was disappointing to see two-time bracelet winner Loni Harwood finish in 6th place in this one. She was the only former bracelet winner at the final table. Oh well: close, but no cigar.
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson busted in 26th place. Of the top pros in this championship, he lasted longest.
The only thing Justin Bonomo hasn’t accomplished this summer is winning a bracelet. The poker star has finished 3rd twice and 2nd once during this year’s Series. And he now has six cashes so far this summer.
If not for Jason Mercier’s ridiculous summer, a bracelet in Event #55, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship would likely catapult Bonomo to the top spot in the Player of the Year (POY) standings. But at least he could have a bracelet and more than $1.2 million within two days.
He is the chip leader for the second day in a row with 3,127,000. There are two days of play remaining in this epic event, which picks up at 2 pm Pacific time on Tuesday. If Bonomo expects to be the last man standing on Wednesday, he’s going to have to fend off the 12 other talented pros.
That includes Rep Porter, Michael Mizrachi, Brian Rast, Paul Volpe, Daniel Negreanu, and the defending champion, Mike Gorodinsky. The latter two players have the smallest chip stacks, but if Negreanu or Gordo get a couple of double-ups, they’re back in contention and will give Bonomo all he can handle to maintain his lead.
On Monday, only Hung Le won an event. But bracelets will be dropping from the ceiling of the Amazon Room at the Rio on Tuesday. Three champions are expected to be crowned in the following tournaments:
Event #56, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em
Event #57, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha/8 or Better
Event #58, the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em
Matt Affleck headlines Tuesday’s action in Event #56. He is the chip leader and is seeking his first career WSOP gold bracelet. Winning the title would do wonders for his reputation. It might make people forget his tearful exit on ESPN from the 2010 Main Event.
Event #59, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em will get underway at 11 am on Tuesday. Event #60, the $1,500 Stud Hi-Low/8 or Better gets rolling at 3 pm. And believe it or not, we are now only four days away from Day One of the Main Event, which kicks off with Day 1A on Saturday, July 9.