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Christmas Morning in June
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Today, approximately 200,000 babies will be born, 4.5 pounds of sunlight will hit the earth, and America will consume 18 acres of pizza; as wonderful as all this is however, the morning of the final day of the WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event is little like Christmas morning – full of anticipation, and leaves you unable to think of anything else.

At the risk of taking the Christmas analogy a little far; with a $7,104,000 prize pool, all those that have fought their way to today's final table, may consider all their Christmases to have come at once. Even the first to be eliminated today will walk away with $230,880; but of course no-one is aiming for that, and with a first place prize of $1,989,120 who can blame them.

24 of the best players in the world met at 3 p.m. yesterday for day 4 of this event; only 16 of those would end in the money, and it was Mike Wattel who was the last to leave without a cent.

There were some breath-holding moments as play progressed, and some emotional ones. First to go of the final 16 was poker giant Doyle Brunson; no stranger to the World Series of Poker, Brunson won his first tournament cash finish at the WSOP 13 years ago. Andy Bloch followed only 15 minutes later, and Joseph Michael half an hour after that. Daniel Negreanu, who had started final-16 play with the second place chip lead took a nasty knock at the hands of Michael DeMichele just before dinner; he was able to hold on for an hour after the meal break but ultimately it way Lyle Berman who took down the 4 time bracelet winning Canadian. Phil Ivey was the next to go – dashing his hopes of a 6th WSOP bracelet. It was a further 2 hours before the next elimination, in which time Scotty Nguyen went from strength to strength. 11th place went to David Bach, 10th to Raymond Davis, and following a reshuffle into one table, Ralph Perry - previous chip leader - went out in 9th.

Final Table play begins at 3 p.m. today.

From Vegas with Love
Saturday, June 28, 2008
With play already underway in some of today's games; let's not waste any time in having a look at the June 28th round up.

Today at 12 noon the 6th $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event kicked off, whilst at 2 p.m. the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event # 48 began its second day, with 198 of yesterdays 2,317 returning for play. All returnees are already in the money, but heading the way to the big bucks is Eric Crane as chip leader with 220,000, followed by Sean McCabe, Marco Johnson and Erik Cajelais, who will all be chasing close at his heals.

At 2:15 p.m. play got started in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em/Six Handed event #46, and already after just 34 minutes of play the first elimination has occurred. Davidi Kitai, who started today with the shortest stack, said good bye and took with him the 6th place prize of $120,693, and his third cash finish of this year's WSOP. After a 14 hour marathon to get to the final table, the remaining finalists will surely be fighting nail and tooth to stay in the game; they are Richard Lyndaker, Joe Commisso, Tom Lutz, Sam Trickett, and Edward Ochana.

The second final to get underway today is that of the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better event # 47. Following a location change to Orange 34 and 40 in the Amazon Room, the final 2 tables should be getting underway shortly after 3p.m. Day 2 was a never ending one for these players – hence the 2 table return. Unable to get down to the final 8, play was suspended at the end of level 18; at 3:20 a.m. Today organizers plan to get down to the final table, give a short break and push right through until a champion emerges.

Yesterday saw the end of the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em w/Re-buys event with a spectacular final table. Max Greenwood climbed his way to chip leader through 3 straight double ups, and sent Rene Mouritsen off with the runner-up prize whilst the 23 year old Canadian walked off with his 1st bracelet and $693,444.

$50,000 Fun - World Chapionship of H.O.R.S.E
Friday, June 27, 2008
The $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship is the crown jewel of the World Series of Poker; it's unattainable by most, unquestionably exciting, and causes everyone to gawp. With a $50,000 buy in, the spectator numbers make up for the participation numbers, and the crowds have certainly not been disappointed thus far. The 5 day event had several changes this year, including the expansion of the money bubble up to position 16: positions 15 and 16 will be rewarded with $124,320. The heads up players will be fighting for a difference 6 times that amount, with the 1st place prize being $1,989,120 and the runner up prize, $1,243,200.

The first day saw the end of Jamie Pickering, Aaron Katz, David Williams, Bari Sklar, Amnon Filippi, Philippe Rouas, Shunjiro Uchida, and Phil Hellmuth, in an exciting 9 hours of play, leaving 140 of the original 148 to return for day 2.

Day 2 was judgment day for a much larger portion of the field, leaving only 67 to come back today at 3p.m. With low limits, and high stacks, most met their end slowly with little drama, and few large pot wins. Probably the most painful elimination was that of Greg Raymer, who suffered terribly at the hands of Alexander Kostritsyn in 7-card stud, only to be finally taken down by Mike Matusow in a Razz hand. Raymer tore up his river card, and stomped out of the arena.

The top 10 chip counts going into day 3, the mid point of this event, are:
1. Lyle Berman - 507,000
2. Patrick Bueno - 485,500
3. Barry Greenstein - 473,000
4. Minh Ly - 451,000
5. Chris Reslock - 435,500
6. Joseph Michael - 401,000
7. Erick Lindgren - 397,500
8. Justin Bonomo - 384,000
9. Daniel Negreanu - 374,500
10. Doyle Brunson - 366,000

Seniors Sparkle in Vegas
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Why the seniors' event is so appealing is somewhat unclear; maybe the diversity in reasons for people participating creates a fascination for the spectators. As an event limited to the over 50s, it provides for some a return to former glory, for others a late but welcomed start in the game. Wednesday's final table of the Seniors No-Limit Hold'em World Championship, $1,000 buy-in event was no exception.

Englishman Martyn "Marty" Wilson attained several cash prize finishes in the late 1990's including a first place win at the 1998 Carnivale of Poker, following which he disappeared from competitive tournament play until the mid 2000s, but continued to be involved in the poker world, working as a tournament director. This was Wilson's 7th cash finish, making him the second most experienced large tournament player at the table. Most experienced was Fred Berger who already has a bracelet and has seen 3 previous WSOP final tables. For all of the other 7 players, this was going to be a first WSOP cash finish for all of them – That's the reason people love this event!

It wasn't a long day of play. Beginning at 2.30, the first elimination, that of Marty Wilson came a little after 3p.m. followed by Ed Clark 25 minutes later. Following a 20 minute break, there's some confusion over a Berger-Eberle hand where Berger goes all in, on Ah, 9c to Eberle's As, 10d. The board came out as Kc, 8c, 3d, 8h, Qs. Hands were shaken as it was announced that Eberle won the hand, only for the board to be rechecked and a new announcement that the kickers don’t play and so the pot was split. Following this, aggression seemed to be the name of the game, and by 6.45p.m. all were eliminated but Dan Lacrose a retired fire fighter, Dale Eberle, a retired police officer. Lacrose held the chip lead at 4.1 million to Eberle's 2.5; it took less than 10 minutes for Lacrose to secure his place as Seniors No-Limit Hold'em World Champion – many congratulations to all who participated.

Monday, Tuesday, Happy Days
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
As Monday turns into Tuesday, and day 25 of the 2008 WSOP turns into day 26, let's have a glance and what was and what might be.

Yesterday, saw only one event come to an end, and that was the $1,500 Event #39 No Limit Hold'em. Fourth place player entering the final table, David Woo was the victor, having defeated chip leader Thom Wethmann, and then facing Matt Wood in heads-up play. Wood certainly gave Woo a run for his money but in the end was not able to take it. Woo walked away with $631,550, his second win of this tournament, and his first WSOP bracelet.

Today, there will only by one new event starting, the $1,500 event #43, Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better. Play will get started at 12 noon, and a medium range field is expected to turn out.

Meanwhile, the Seniors No-Limit Hold'em World Championship event will continue at 1 p.m. for day 2 of play. Only over 50 are allowed in this event, and only 220 will be returning today, after a whopping 1,998 eliminations yesterday. Going into day 2 Duane Gerleman is leading the chip counts. One of the most popular games of the tournament, the seniors will hit the money 22 busts into today.

Two finals to take place today are the Mixed Hold'em and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, set to start an hour apart from each other. The earlier final; event #40 the 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball saw an exciting day yesterday in which Greg Raymer, Mike Wattel, and Billy Baxter were eliminated. Today going into day 3 John "Razor" Phan, and Gioi Luong are sharing the chip leader position. Cards will begin to fly at 2p.m. An hour later, at 3p.m. event #41, the Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No-Limit), $1,500 buy in will begin. Mats Gavatin is leading the chip counts with 405,000, followed by Nick Binger, Frank Gary, Michael Chu, Jonathan Tamayo, Alex Jalali, David Machowsky, Chris Rentes, and finally David Sorger with 130,000.

Heads-Up play outlasts Table Play: Event #38
Monday, June 23, 2008
When Davidi Kitai came 404th in last years WSOP Main Event, or 147th in this year's $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Event #27, he may have recognized the greatness in him just waiting to burst out, but it wasn't necessarily clear to everyone else. His EPT record was slightly better, having snatched 11th and 18th place finishes in the last two seasons, but last night, everything changed for this Belgian.

Beginning the final table of event #38 $2,000 pot-limit hold'em was a motley crew of experienced and less experienced tournament players including Ben Roberts, and Chris Bell on the more experienced side, and Ayaz Mahmood, and Michael Greco and David Kitai on the less experienced side. Kitai was literally sat in the middle of the field in terms of chip counts at the beginning of the day, yet it took only three and a bit hours to get down to heads-up play, which then went on to take longer than the rest of the final table play; making it one of the oddest final table days yet seen in this competition.

Greco was first to go, loosing out to a Bell re-raise, and he was followed out by Ben Roberts who was seen off by Robert Cheung. In seventh place was Ayaz Mahmood, then Cheung himself went in 6th, and Lee Watkinson in 5th – all taken down by Bell. The only direct David Kitai elimination was Jan Von Halle in fourth place, leaving Bell to take Keith Greer out in 3rd.

Despite the chip count being more or less 2:1 in Bell's favor at the beginning of heads-up play, Kitai succeeded in wheedling it away from him in a true show of attrition. With no huge pot wins Kitai managed over 80 or so small hands to bring himself the chip lead. From that point on, it was another 100 hands before Kitai finished Bell off, and that he did; Kitai won $244,546, his first tournament 1st place, and of course his first bracelet. Bell took $155,806.

Saturday Night Fever
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Last night's play saw 2 familiar names walk away with WSOP bracelets in events # 36 and # 37 at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

It was at gone 1 a.m. this morning that after 10 hours of play, and 17 eliminations, David Benyamine emerged as the winner of event # 37, the $10,000 World Championship Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event. It was not an easy feat, and his $535,687 first place prize was well earned for beating back one of the most difficult final table meetings yet seen. Benyamine has previously won 2 World Poker Tour titles and combined cash prizes of over $2,000,000 over his career; but nothing can compare to his run at this year's WSOP where he has already pocketed 4 cash prizes, 3 final table seats, and a gold bracelet, all he's missing is a partridge in a pear tree!

Two and a half hours earlier, on his 166th hand of the day, Jesper Hougaard took event # 36, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'Em Tournament. The Dane made this his 6th career cash win, 3 of which were earned at this tournament! Going into this event were 2,447 entrants, making it one of the largest of the tournament, and at the beginning of third day play it was only the final table left. Play kicked off at 2p.m. with Hougaard leading the pack with a 1,582,000 chip count; following him was CODY SLAUBAUGH, with 1,429,000. This didn't change much in the coming 9 hours, with Hougaard very much leading the way, and Slaubaugh staying close to his tails. A moment of worry for Hougaard and excitement for everyone else came during heads-up play, when Slaubaugh took the chip lead as dinner neared. It was short lived however, and Hougaard took it back, and took Slaubaugh down -. This was Slaubaugh's fourth cash finish of the tournament.

World Series of Poker Academy Announce Advanced Primer
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The 2008 $10,000 World Championship No-Limit Texas Hold'em Main Event is only 12 days away: An estimated 9,000 competitors are expected to start the 12 day tournament which will see it's final table play take place in November, allowing for full media attention and prepping of players before the champion is determined. The shift in timetable and delay in final table play will make this year's Main Event the biggest yet, the most publicized yet, and may change the public profile of tournament poker for ever.

In anticipation of the biggest Main Event ever, the World Series of Poker Academy has announced a Main Event Primer in which it will teach a curriculum of the most advanced techniques in No-Limit Hold'em yet taught. The Main Event Primer will be spread over 3-days, and include 3 closed tournaments, aimed to provide participants with a learning experience that will help them attain an edge over fellow competitors. To such an aim past Main Event winners such as Phil Hellmuth and Greg Raymer will be teaching, as will bracelet winners Mark Seif and Annie Duke, amongst others that will make up the highly qualified and experienced staff.

The event will take place in Caesars Palace between June 29th and July 1st. During those 3 days the Academy claims that their syllabus will be the most advanced ever taught and will include advanced math of poker, winning cash game strategy, advanced tournament stage strategy, pre-flop and post-flop strategy, heads up strategy, and an advanced seminar on decoding poker tells. The cost of the Primer is $1,999 plus an optional extra $139 per night to stay in the hotel. The cost of the Primer covers participation in the 3 free-roll events. The first of these events will have a cash prize of $2,500 whilst the day 2 and 3 tournament winners will be rewarded with the $10,000 buy-in for the Main Event Itself.

June 19th to June 20th: What was and What will be
Friday, June 20, 2008
The third of seven $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em events to be played at this year's WSOP came to its conclusion yesterday with Jose Luis Velador beating a 2,304 strong field to win the $573,734 first position prize. Velador, a pro already for the last 11 years, joined the ranks of first time bracelet winners of this year's event. Anthony Signore, a first time major tournament player, held his own in the hour or so of heads up play, but with Velador the strongest player since early on Day 2, he didn't really have a chance.

Meanwhile, event #33, the $10,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better came to an end also, with Chris "Jesus" Ferguson losing out to Sebastian Ruthenberg who took the bracelet and the first place prize of $328,756.

Enough of the past, what of the future. Today, at noon, event #38, the 3 day $2,000 Pot-limit Hold'em event will begin, whilst at 3 p.m. day 2 of event #37, the $10,000 World Championship Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better will reconvene, with 120 players returning, all hoping to make it at least to 27 when the money bubble bursts. Leading into day 2 is Soheil Shamseddin with 115,000 chips.

Event #36, yet another No-Limit Hold'em $1,500 event will also be heading into day 2, after a strenuous 10 hours of play yesterday. A huge, 2,250 players were eliminated yesterday, leaving just 189 to play it out today for a final table position – leading them is Owen Crowe with an enormous chip advantage.

2 final tables today will be the $1,500 Seven Card Stud and the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha w/Re-Buys. The former will begin at 3 p.m. with 8 players returning playing for one of the smallest WSOP prizes - only $135,753. Not so, with the latter in which the 9 remaining players will begin at noon, all hoping for the more normal sized $577,725, first place prize. In this event most eyes will be trained on Ted Forrest and Layne Flack who will both be hoping to add to their already substantial bracelet collections.

Katz is Pack Leader Going Into $10k World Championship Limit Hold'em Final Table
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
One in 5 events at this year's WSOP is a World Championship event, which is why every few days there seems to be news of one, and today is no exception. At 2p.m. this afternoon, the remaining 9 players of the 218 that entered the $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold'em event will return to determine the champion.

Play in day 2 of the 3 day event went into the wee hours of the morning, and the brutality of the time showed on the players. The money bubble was burst at 27, but with 97 starting day 2 it's hardly surprising play lasted for 12 hours. Things got off to a fast start with 10 players being sent to the rail within the first half hour of play; this pace continued with half the field eliminated by 18.30 including Howard Lederer, Richard "Quiet Lion" Brodie, Shawn Buchanan, and Nick Schulman. After Dinner, play continued to be fast with Erick Lindgren being eliminated 45 minutes after play commenced, during which time Hoyt Corkins becomes a centre of the action. It was just after 11 p.m. when Alex Kravchenko was eliminated in 27th place, becoming the bubble boy and taking with him $20,492. As play continued, a lot of short stacks meant reluctance for daring play, and most seemed to be airing on the side of caution. Within an hour another 6 had gone out, with Hoyt Corkins leaving in 21st place, having found his power streak short lived, and by 1 a.m. the last 2 tables were being redrawn.

Despite Andy Bloch's suggestion that the final stage may take another 4 hours of play, it actually took less than 2. The last to go was Eric Buchman, who lost out to an Aaron Katz re-raise. The chip counts for today's final table are:

Aaron Katz:1,232,000
Rob Hollink: 893,000
Tommy Hang: 578,000
Jerrod Ankenman: 441,000
Andy Bloch: 370,000
JC Tran: 247,000
Cy Jassinowsky ;231,000
Chris Vitch: 201,000
Brock Parker: 166,000

Day 18 to Day 19 – What's Going On
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Day 18 of the WSOP, June 16th, saw online icon , Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond take the $5,000Pot-Limit Omaha w/Re-Buys bracelet after a tooth and nail struggle against Adam Hourani, and Russian Pro Vitaly Lunkin, overcome Texan Brett Kimes to take the $628,417 first place prize of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event 27.

Today will see the start of another $1,500 No-limit Hold'em, event 32 at 12p.m., and at 5p.m. the $5,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event. This event is traditionally pro-studded, and was won last year by Eli Elezra who has already made his mark in this year's WSOP having taken 3 cash finishes so far.

Returning to play today at 2 p.m. will be the remaining players of the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em/Six Handed event 31, after a furious first day of play yesterday in which the original 1012 entrants played down to just 73. Reconvening for final tables today is the $10,000 World Championship Limit Hold'em event, after a very late night, with Dutchman Rob Hollink leading the field; and at 2 p.m. the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event with the likes of David Singer, John 'Razor' Phan, and Alex Bolotin, all still around to fight for the title. The remaining 9 for that event are as follows:

Matt Vengrin: 1,007,500
Johnny Neckar: 796,000
Alex Bolotin: 534,000
David Singer: 515,000
Stewart Newman: 398,000
John Phan: 396,500
Thuy Doan: 369,500
Tony Dunst: 333,000
Sebastian Segovia: 128,500

Tran Takes 1st WSOP Bracelet
Monday, June 16, 2008
Kenny Tran has been playing tournament poker since 1999, but last night saw his first first-place win, and his second win of the 2008 WSOP Main Event. The $10,000 Heads-up No Limit Hold'em event is very much a test of endurance and is one of the most intense events of the tournament; never was this more true than in last nights, 4 hour final table marathon. 

The semi finals saw Tran pitted against Jonathan Jaffe at the TV table in the Milwaukee's Best Light No-Limit Lounge. After 2 hours and 60 hands of back and forth, Tran emerged victorious, securing his place in the final. The second semi-final between Vanessa Selbst and 21 year old Alec Torelli got off to a late start as finding Torelli was easier said than done. Turning up half an hour late, blaming it on a spa treatment, seemed to have done Torelli good, whilst Selbst's honorable response to suggestions of starting the game without Torelli, may have done her disservice. It took only an hour and 35 hands for Torelli to send Selbst packing and for him to secure his place in the final against Tran, scheduled for 7p.m. the same evening.

The final was heated and exciting with Tran taking an immediate strong position in the first match against which Torelli fought back creating a 3-2 chip lead. This lead didn't last too long however and within the hour, Tran had recovered it.  The second match again was a back-and-for, with Tran starting well, Torelli overtaking, but then Tran taking it back and finally bringing proceedings to a close on the 80th hand, making a third match unnecessary. Tran took the $539,056 first place prize, leaving Torelli with the second place of $336,896

Life outside the WSOP
Monday, June 16, 2008
One may be forgiven for forgetting that there's a world outside of the Rio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, but there is, and for those who can tear their attention away for a just a moment, it is news of Europe.

After the most successful season yet, the Pokerstars European Poker Tour dates for next season have been announce. There will be 9 stops in total making up the 5th season, with the Grand Final in Monte Carlo.

The First stop will be in Barcelona between September 10th and 14th, then to London at the beginning of October and over the following 6 months will stop in Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic before culminating on April 28th for the Grand Final. The Schedule as it stands is as follows, but changes may occur:

Sept 10th -14th, 2008: Barcelona Open; Casino Barcelona - €8,000
October 1st-5th, 2008: London; Victoria Casino - £5,200
November 15th-19th, 2008: Polish Open,Hyatt Regency, Warsaw - 20,000 PLN
December 9th-13th, 2008: Prague; Hilton Hotel - €5,000
January 20th-24th, 2009: Deauville; Barrière Casino - €5,000
February 17th-21st, 2009:  Scandinavian Open;Casino Copenhagen- 50,000 DKR
March 10th – 14th, 2009: German Open; Casino Hohensyburg - €5,000
April 18th-23rd, 2009: San Remo; San Remo - €5,000
April 28th - May 3rd, 2009: Grand Final: Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort - €10,000

Cutting to the chase – Heads-Up Championship in Final Round
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Yesterday's day 2 or the 3 day event started off with 32 players; three rounds were played in order to get down to the four surviving players; the last of these rounds, the quarter finals lasting over 4 hours. Vanessa Selbst who some may remember from the final four of this event in last year's WSOP was first to secure her position, followed by Jonathan Jaffe who overcame Gavin Griffin's gallant efforts. The third position was taken by Kenny Tran who took down Brandon Adams on a premature all in. It was Lyle Berman and Alec Torelli who would have to be considered the titans of the championship however. At the four hour mark they were more or less even, with no sign of change. It was only when the blinds started overtaking that threatening actions was required. They both went all in with a Q-6 for Berman and a K-5 for Torelli. The board came out 4-5-9-4-K giving Torelli the final spot.

The semi finals today will start with 6,000/12,000 blinds, and the final will be a best 2-of-3 showdown. The Semi-final matches are:

Vanessa Selbst vs. Alec Torelli
Kenny Tran vs. Jonathan Jaffe

$3,000 H.O.R.S.E. Finally Finalized
Saturday, June 14, 2008
No one said that the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event would be easy, and that it certainly wasn't. After two days of exhausting play, the final table reconvened with double the originally planned players.

Yesterday's final table saw 16 of the original 414 strong playing field return. The money bubble burst at 40 meaning that the least lucky of Friday's players would leave with $10,283. Despite length play of the previous evening which had led organizers to decide on finishing second day play with 16 left, it took only 2 hours for final day play to turn into the final table.

Leading the pack was Hoyt Corkins sitting in seat 7 with 595,000 whilst Marcel Luske in Seat 8 wasn't far behind with 572,000. A middle section was made up of Doug Ganer with 405,000 and Jens Voertmann with 485,000. Jennifer Harman, Jared Davis, Steve Zolotow, and Rostislav Tsodikov with chip counts ranging from 271,000 to 140,000 created the tail of the pack.

Harman was the first to suffer a hard knock, falling down to just 100,000 at the hands of Jens Voertmann and it was indeed her that was the first to leave the final table play in 8th place in a Razz round. It was Stud that saw off Ross Tsodikov in 7th, Steve Zolotow in 6th, and Jared Davis in 5th places. Original Chip Leader Hoyt Corkins was seen off in 4th place in a Hold'em round when he went all in against Marcel Luske on a Ad, Kd, 10s, flop. Luske showed a Ac and 9d, whilst Corkin's Kh, Qc wasn't enough to cut it with the As 3h turn and river.

Having been crippled by Doug Granger in an Omaha 8 round, it was Jens Voertmann who buried Luske in Stud, sending him off in 3rd place, leaving Jens Voertmann and Doug Ganger to fight it out in heads up. Voertmann took the bracelet and the $298,227 first place prize after an hour of heads up play in which Ganger started off strong but quickly irretrievably faltered in.

Gromenkova wins Ladies No Limit Hold'em World Championship Title
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A day of New York triumphs. It was a $1,000 buy in event, it had a $1,082,000 prize pool, it attracted 1,190 entrants, and it came down to an exciting heads-up play after 3 days of excellent play, yesterday evening.

At the beginning of heads up play which lasted an hour, Svetlana Gromenkova was leading with 1,477,000 to Anh Le's 890,000. After around half an hour of play Le looked like she might see the Russian off when she took a 600,000 chip lead, but it was short lived lasting only 20 minutes or so before Gromenkova incrementally, but surely took her lead back.

Svetlana Gromenkova did not exactly ingratiate the crowd with her outgoing personality; the Russian born and raised New York resident is a lady of few words, but then maybe few are necessary. A large and vocal supporting contingent cheered her through to her fourth cash win since 2005; this $224,702 prize equates to over 15 times the total of all her previous wins combined.

Also concluded yesterday was the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, which was won by American Andrew Brown, a former Hotel Management Student, for whom this was his first cash win. One of the few 2 day events also came to an end yesterday; the $1,500 buy in No-Limit Hold'em Shootout was won by Jason Young, another first time money finish.

All of these three winners are originally from or currently live in New York State.

Today will see the start of a WSOP favorite, the $3,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event. Play will get started in the Amazon Room at 5p.m. and will attract many as a warm-up for event #45; the 5 day $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event scheduled to begin on June 25th.

Brooks Beats the Bunch
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
It may not have been the most anticipated events thus far in the 2008 World Series of Poker at Rio Hotel & Casino, but it was certainly close, and it certainly exceeded expectations. Event # 14 began on Saturday with 158 entrants making it one of the smallest entry fields of the tournament, yet one of the strongest one's to boot; and where the numbers lacked the enthusiasm compensated.

The $10,000 buy in Seven-Card Stud World Championship saw 8 players return for the final day of play, including past bracelet winner Vassilios Lazarou who was looking to add a third 7-card stud bracelet to the two he already has, and 8-bracelet holder Erik Seidel. In addition, some old rivals sat at the table; 21 year old Alexander Kostritsyn in seat 2 was probably not who Erik Seidel wanted to sit across from, following the youngster's snitch of the 2008 Aussie Millions first place prize.

Despite the star studded table, it was the two least known players who after 6 hours of play found themselves in heads-up play which lasted a further hour. Fu Wong, a one time cash winner, entered the day in Seat 7 with 429,000 chips, whilst Eric Brooks in Seat 8, starting with 359,000, had had no serious tournament experience prior to this.

As heads up play began, Fu Wong had the upper hand with 1,815,000 to Eric Brooks' 1,345,000. After 10 minutes or so Brooks took the chip lead and that was the beginning of the end. In front of a dwindling crowd, it took another 45 minutes or so for Brooks to finish off Wong, but that he did; Wong left with the 2nd place prize of $259,910.

Despite this being Brooks' first tournament cash win, he will not be benefiting from the $415,856 first prize. The Pennsylvanian will be donating the whole lot to the Decision Education Foundation.

WSOP June 8th Summary
Monday, June 9, 2008
The $1,500 Limit Hold'em Event # 12 saw its final table reached yesterday already well into the evening of play. Starting off with 18 players over 2 tables Vinny Vinh kicked off the action as chip leader with plenty of other familiar names in the pot – Markus Golser, Erick Lindgren, Ali Eslami to name a few. It was Jimmy Shultz and Zac Fellows who found themselves in head-to-head play however, after this grueling event which didn't get any easier with just two players. Heads up play continued for a further two hours, before the American pushed off the Canadian to take the $257,105 first-place prize.

Meanwhile the Ladies No-Limit Hold'em World Championship, event #15 attracted fewer participants than last year, but none-the-less started with one of the largest fields of the tournament thus far; 1,190. After day 1 the money bubble has well and truly been burst, and with 61 players returning on day 2 of play, the first to fall will walk away with $3,032 from the $1,000 buy in event. Shavonne Mitchell is currently leading the field with 94,000 but Alice Talbot isn't far behind with 92,000.

Back to the men, David Oppenheim will be in seat no. 1 today as the final 8 return for the last day of play in event # 14, the World Championship Seven Card Stud event. In the Arizona room, this event attracted the largest crowds, who were given the Lakers – Celtic Game in the course of the evening, not that extra entertainment was really required. With only 16 players making the money in this event, it was nail biting action. Final day play resumes this afternoon at 3p.m.

Philip Tom is one gentleman who will not be rushing to get out of bed this morning. First time major event winner, Tom took the bracelet and the $477,900 first place prize from #11, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.

Final Table Undecided, Shootouts immanent, and the Ladies are Coming
Sunday, June 8, 2008
It’s all go at Rio Hotel and Casino! Today will see two final tables and see two events begin. Coming to an end are Event #11; $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout, and Event #12; Limit Hold’em No-rebuys. Beginning today, is Event #16, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, and the first Ladies event of the tournament – Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship.

The $1,000 buy-in Ladies championship event, event #15, has been a fixed part of the WSOP for the last couple of decades although it was only in 2001 that it took on its current Hold’em form; prior to that it was a 7-card stud event. This event attracted 1,286 players in the 2007 WSOP and many are interested to see how many will show up for the 3 day event this year. Play is set to start at noon. At 5p.m. the $2,000 Omaha Hi/Lo event will begin, and we’ll see if Frankie O’Dell, last year’s winner, returns to defend his title.

Event #12, $1,500 Limit Hold'em, will reconvene at 3p.m. today, but with two tables left instead of one. After 12 hours of play and no clear end in site, organizers felt it better to call an end to second day play. Today will be the final day of play for this tournament, and all are hoping for some fast moving action. As for Event #11, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout, here’s the final table line up:

1. Timothy West
2. Thomas Roupe
3. Sirous Jamshidi
4. Phil Tom
5. Greg Mueller
6. Leo Wolpert

In other events, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six-Handed was won at 11p.m. last night by first time bracelet winner, Rep Porter who beat 1,236 other entrants to the first place prize of $372,843. 2 hours before that, Farzad Rouhani walked away from the $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Freezeout with its first place prize of $232,911.

World Championship Mixed Event Receives All Round Approval
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Of all the innovations apparent at this year's WSOP Main Event, event #8, the World Championship Mixed Event, must be one of the most anticipated and discussed.

The $10,000 buy-in event combined 8 types of poker played in a rotating structure. The new event attracted a very respectable 192 entrants, making a prize pool of $1,804,000. The idea behind the inclusion of the Mixed Event was to encourage a closer relationship between tournament play and cash game players.

For the most part the event has been welcomed by players and spectators alike with only minor suggestions being made for change in a future event. Many believe that the inclusion of a mixed game event in the WSOP will serve to strengthen all games, as well as the appeal of mixed game play which has been alive and kicking already for several years in certain venues, for example the Big Game in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio.

As for this year's event, its winner certainly fitted the bill for the aims of the event. Anthony Rivera, 22, has far more cash game experience than tournament cash finishes, with only 2 to speak of before last night. The final table was a phenomenal array that must have made the organizers proud; half of the table had previously won WSOP bracelets, a combined 6 in fact.

The results from the first ever $10,000 mixed event final table are:

1. Anthony Rivera – $483,688
2. James Mackey – $297,792
3. Matt Glantz – $184,992
4. Mike DeMichele – $139,872
5. Eli Elezra – $108,288
6. Sammy Farha – $85,728
7. Jeff Madsen – $67,680
8. Tom Dwan – $54,144

Banducci and Luu take bracelets
Friday, June 6, 2008
Event # 5, the $1,000 no-limit hold'em tournament with rebuys final table saw Michael Banducci finish yesterday just as he started – ahead. The final day of play lasted for 10 hours during which time the chip lead position did visit other players but only fleetingly and always returning to the 23 year old from Michigan.

766 participants entered the 3 day event on Tuesday, creating a prize pool of $2,894,094. It was Jeff Williams, who started final table play in 5th position nearly 800,000 chips behind Banducci, who found himself in heads-up play. The chip lead Banducci had at the beginning of the day was nothing compared to the chip lead he had by the beginning of heads-up play. Williams started with 1,255,000, whilst Banducci had four times that amount with 5,260,000. None-the-less, play lasted for 19 hands and an hour and a half before Williams finally was seen off. The final hand saw Williams making a pre-flop raise to 130,000 which Banducci rereaised to 400,000. In response Williams went all in and Banducci called. Williams shows an Ac-5d; Banducci an Ad-Jc. The board came out Kc-Jh-2d-10d-3c, giving Banducci the first prize of $636,736, and Williams the second prize of $406,330.

With an 832 player starting field the $1,500 Omaha eight-or-better event was the largest of its type in WSOP history. None-the-less, its final table play attracted a much smaller crowed than event #5. Those that did come to support however saw previous bracelet winner Scott Clements enter the day in 6th position but powerless to last long against day 2 chip leader Thang Luu who entered the day with 640,00 – nearly double the chip count of his closest rival. Final table play lasted for a little over 7 hours, with head-up play accounting for one and quarter hours of that. The final results for event #6 are:

1. Thang Luu — $243,356
2. Spencer Lawrence — $156,343
3. George Guzman — $93,806
4. James Pritchard — $78,456
5. Chris Falconer — $64,243
6. Greg “Fargo” Jamison — $50,598
7. Craig Sabel — $39,228
8. Mark Wilds — $30,700
9. Scott Clements — $22,172
Both Banducci and Luu are first time bracelet winners.

Other tournaments continuing today include the much anticipated $10,000 world Championship Mixed Event, the remaining 8 players of which will reconvene for final table play at 4p.m. These are the positions they will take:

1. James "" Mackey - 742,000
2. Matt Glantz - 1,115,000
3. Sam Farha - 374,000
4. Michael DeMichele - 434,000
5. Tom "durrrr" Dwan - 642,000
6. Eli Elezra - 76,000
7. Anthony Rivera - 274,000
8. Jeff Madsen - 149,000

There will also be, at 3p.m. the final table of Event #7; $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. Going into final table play, Theo Tran is leading the pack by a huge chip majority of 1,884,000. His closest rivals, Mihai Manole with 1,020,000 and Matt Keikoan with 1,011,000, themselves have a huge lead over their closest rival, Carter Gill with 652,000. 1,593 participants entered this event, creating a prize pool of $2,899,260 and a first place prize of $550,601.

WSOP: Test of Endurance?
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
It has been a marathon event in more ways than one; from its record breaking starting field – the fourth largest in WSOP history, to its drawn out hours of elimination – 53.3 hours of play all together – finally event # 2 has come to an end, but it will remain vivid in peoples memories for a long time to come.

It was finally Grant Hinkle who took the first place prize of $821,279 in the wee hours of the morning, seeing off James Akenhead with a pre-flop all-in raise. Akenhead, with Ace-King, called – Hinkle showed a 10d and 4d. The flop gave Hinkel 10-10-4, and the turn the final 10, leaving Akenhead with the second place prize of $520,219.

Hinkle had no expectations of winning the bracelet, and in fact had originally booked a flight to take him back to Kansas City where he's a Marketing Manager on Sunday. In the course of the tournament and his ongoing success in it, his flight got changed five times. Keeping his feet well and truly on the ground, Hinkle commented that:

“My goal coming in was just go as deep as I could. After Day One, I was top-ten in chips and once I got there I started to think – how much money can I make and how far can I really go? I kept going and winning pots and I eventually got here…I’m not going to (think about quitting my job) right now. I have to talk to my wife and family and make that decision.”

In other news, a different type of endurance will be required as play in event #8 will begin at 5 pm today. All round knowledge and skill. This three day $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event will feature eight poker variations which will be played by each player each hour in sequence. The eight types are:

1) Deuce-to-seven triple draw;
2) Fixed-limit hold'em;
3) Omaha-8 (hi/lo split);
4) Razz;
5) Seven-card stud;
6) Seven-card stud (hi/lo split, 8 or better);
7) No-limit hold'em;
8) Pot-limit Omaha.

The tables will be limited to 8 players each; the first twenty minutes of each level will be dedicated to the play of games 1,2, and 3. The game will change after every eight hands. The second twenty minutes will be dedicated to games 4, 5 and 6, and the last to games 7 and 8; all on the same principle of rotation. This event is another new comer to the WSOP schedule; its results will be interesting, its reception by both players and spectators, possible more so.

WSOP: New Beginnings New Endings
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
They promised a record breaking tournament, and they haven't disappointed. We are only at day 5 of the 2008 World Series of Poker, but records have already been broken and expectations shattered.

The second event of the series will come to an end today, June 3rd, with play beginning at 2p.m. The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event attracted a record number of participants – 3,929 in total, creating a prize pool of $5,363,085. Today only 52 of that original ocean of players will return and, already well into the money bubble, play is expected to be fierce. The money bubble burst at 378, meaning that even the first 7 to go to the rail today will walk away with a $12,821. It is however, the first prize of $831,279 that all players have their eyes on. The chip counts at the end of day 3 leave the board wide open as there is no run away leader. The top three are Theo Tran with 950,000, Joe Rutledge with 860,000, and Aaron Coulthard with 820,000. At the other end of the spectrum, Brandon Blake will have to work hard to stay in the game with his 60,000.

At the same time as the final 52 play it out for the event #2 bracelet, the 63 survivors of the 713 strong field will return for Day 2 of event #3; the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em event. The top three, and the only ones who have crossed the 100,000 threshold, going into the penultimate day of play are:

1. Robert Workman - 146,800
2. Philip Yeh - 143,000
3. David Singer - 123,600

Again, the money bubble has already been burst, so the first to leave today will take $3,018 with them. The first prize in this event is $214,131.

Also returning today are the 91 players remaining of the original 332 entrants of the $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event. Play will begin at 3p.m. Day 1 saw Nenad Medic, winner of the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship, go out as the last casualty of the day; a long way off from the money bubble which will only pop at position 36. Today, players are fighting to get into the money and for a position on the final table which will be played tomorrow.

New events starting today are the 3 day No-Limit Hold'em w/Re-Buys $1,000, and the 3 day Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better $1.

California Leads the Way for Online Poker Legalization
Monday, June 2, 2008
The bill sponsored by Poker Voters of America, dubbed The California Gambling Control/Intrastate Online Poker Legalization Act, or the AB 2026, has taken an important step.

The bill sponsored by the group Poker Voters of America and authored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, has left the Assembly floor and has been passed onto the State Senate whose Rules Committee will allocate it to the appropriate Committee for consideration. With the passing of the bill, its creators envision a reality in the State of California for viable and manageable online poker playing which will protect the citizens whilst operating inside federate law. It is expected that the bill will return to the Assembly towards the end of the summer at which point all amendments will need to be agreed upon. Following this, the way will lie open for it to be signed into state law; It is believed that this will occur in the fall of this year.

WSOP Catch Up
Monday, June 2, 2008
The first event has been won; Nenad Medic took the first place prize of $794,112 and the prestige of the first 2008 Main Event bracelet, and the first championship title of the series. This is the Canadian's first WSOP first place win, but he has earned four WSOP cash finishes, and he won the No Limit Hold'em tournament first place prize at the 2006 WPT World Poker Finals in Foxwood. The final table fell out like this:

Nenad Medic - $794,112
Andy Bloch - $488,048
Kathy Liebert - $306,064
Mike Sexton - $248,160
Amit Makhija - $198,528
Chris Bell - $157,168
Patrik Antonius - $124,080
Mike Sowers - $99,264
Phil Laak - $74,448

With the end of event #1 there is still plenty to look forward to. At 2p.m. today, Monday 2nd June, there is day 2 of the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event with David Bach leading the field; the opening of the $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em 3 day event at 12 noon; and at 5p.m. there's the beginning of the 3 day $5,000 Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No Limit) event.

Day 2 WSOP – Where the big get little and the little get big!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
If you've been looking at what's been going in Las Vegas you could be forgiven for getting mixed up between the big events and the small ones.

Today saw the entrants to the largest ever pot-limit hold'em event be slim-lined into the final 9 for tomorrow's final table play. The $10,000 buy in event went into day 2 of 3 with 70 players, but as the money bubble of 36 loomed, so the play started to drag. James Gorham just missed out on the money, taking the last non-prize position. Big names who did not make it through include, David Bach, Mark Newhouse, Vivek "psyduck" Rajkumar, Matt "mattg1983" Graham, Ted Lawson, and Marco "CrazyMarco" Johnson. Following a delayed dinner, Dustin "neverwin" Woolf didn't win again, and Rolf Slotboom followed him out. Eli Elezra, stack leader entering the day, said his farewells and contributed to Mike Sowers going over the million mark. The struggle to get down to just one table was just that – a struggle, and the likes of Alexander Kostritsyn, Andreas Krause, David "raptor" Benefield, Ryan Young, Michael Pesek, and Justin Newton all fell by the way side. Fourteen hours after day two started, John Kabbaj was eliminated in 10th position, taking with him $49,632. The final 9 are ready for the final day of play, and look like this:

Andy Bloch – 2,115,000
Nenad Medic – 1,200,000
Mike Sexton – 1,130.000
Mike Sowers – 675,000
Amit Makhija – 525,000
Chris Bell – 455,000
Phil Laak – 425,000
Kathy Liebert – 285,000
Partick Antonius – 230,000

That's the "big" tournament; now what about the little one – the $1,500 no-limit hold'em tournament? Today was the first of the two first days of the tournament and it attracted a whopping 2,048 entrants; an even greater number are expected for the second first day which has 2,000 pre-registered participants. These figures make event #2 of the 2008 WSOP Main Event, the largest WSOP prelim seen to date. Today's mammoth entry field, was whittled down to just 225, who will now have a day's break before day 2 of play.

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