In its 11-year history, only two players have won the $50,000 Poker Players’ Championship more than once. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi was the first to do it in 2010 and 2012, and on Wednesday, 34-year-old Brian Rast accomplished the same feat in Event #55.
Rast, who first won in 2011, did it on Day 36 of the 2016 World Series of Poker by topping a field of 91 of the world’s best pros to capture a $1,297,097 first-place prize and his third career gold bracelet.
Interestingly, Mizrachi was looking for the same hat trick, as he was among the final six players. Despite holding the chip lead during four-handed play, Mizrachi fell short, busting in fourth place for $380,942. He was preceded out the door by both Ray Dehkharghani (6th for $200,027) and Wil Wilkinson (5th for $272,558), while Eric Wasserson followed him out in third for $545,772.
Despite beginning heads-up play at a chip disadvantage, Rast managed to defeat fellow poker pro Justin Bonomo to capture the title.
“I really didn’t play perfect all the way through – there were some times when I didn’t play well,” Rast told WSOP officials after the win. “I played really bad the first level of Day Three – I wasn’t warmed up yet. But this tournament, with the structure, it’s very long and it’s very forgiving because of how many chips you get. I was really, really happy with how I played, and happy how I played at the final table.”
After Day 2, just 47 players from an 863-player field remained in Event #59, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em. Leading the pack is Marius Gierse, who bagged 1.496 million, though Dominik Nitsche (734,000), Natasha Barbour (537,000), and Fedor Holz (427,000) all remain in the running for the $800,586 top prize.
Among those to fall on Day 2, albeit with a payday, were Tom Marchese (53rd for $13,514), Jean Gaspard (60th for $11,734), David Vamplew (62nd for $11,734), Darryll Fish (66th for $10,361), and Andrew Lichtenberger (72nd for $10,361), who is fresh off of winning his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet.
On Thursday, the remaining players will return at noon PT to play down to the final table.
They are down to the final 14 in Event #60, the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo. One of them on Thursday will walk away with a new bracelet and a $156,546 top prize. David Prociak is the favorite, with 701,000 in chips, though John Monnette (420,000), Calvin Anderson (347,000), and Brandon Shack-Harris (95,000) all stand in his way.
Among the players to bust on Day 2, were Phillip Hui (16th for $5,264), Mark Gregorich (17th for $4,379), Victor Ramdin (35th for $3,231), Svetlana Gromenkova (48th for $2,867), and Mike Leah (74th for $2,239).
A “Tag Team” event hasn’t been held at the WSOP since way back in 1983, but that changed on Wednesday when Event #61, the $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em kicked off with 863 teams. After nine levels of play, only 130 teams remained with Vladimir Geshkenbein and Tobias Ziegler leading the way with 100,000 in chips.
Others still pushing towards the $153,358 first-place cash are Mohsin Charania and Marvin Rettenmaier (20,300), Matt Vengrin and Connor Drinan (22,400), and Cory Waaland and Jordan Cristos (24,300).
Action will resume at noon Pacific time on Thursday.
One of the most anticipated events on the WSOP schedule, Event #62, the $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha, kicked off Wednesday evening with 163 players. That number may grow as registration is open until the start of play on Day 2.
After 10 levels of play, 95 players bagged chips. Michael Huntress and his stack of 685,000 are out in front. Others still alive are bracelet winner Paul Volpe (302,000), last year’s Millionaire Maker champ Adrian Buckley (281,500), and Max Silver (287,000). Silver is celebrating a birthday today.
Not so lucky were Isaac Haxton, Phil Galfond, Matt Glantz, J.C. Tran, and defending champ Anthony Zinno, who all fell on Day 1.
Day 37 of the 2016 WSOP will see Event #63, the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em kick off at 11 am PT. Then later this afternoon, at 3 pm, Event #64, the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8 or Better, will see cards in the air at the Rio.