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It was another hectic week at the 2021 WSOP with one of the biggest tournaments of the year stepping into the spotlight and top-tier players adding to their WSOP legacies. The $50,000 Poker Players Championship brought out the stars and has played down to a final table with Eli Elezra holding the overnight chip lead. Plus, a pair of potential future Hall of Famers in Shaun Deeb and Brian Rast have won their way into rarified air by both winning their career fifth bracelet, and four was the magic number this week with four different players earning their fourth career bracelet. And, of course, Phil Hellmuth took to Twitter to a gripe about the WSOP Player of the Year formula. So let’s get into it, here are the five biggest storylines that made headlines during Week 5 of the WSOP! Hellmuth Goes Off On Player of the Year We’re getting peak Hellmuth here in 2021. He’s winning bracelets, dropping eff-bombs, and burning down the house. After a relatively quiet week from the 16-time champ, it looks like he finally took a look at the 2021 WSOP Player of the Year standings and didn’t like what he saw. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1455092561769472002?s=20 Hellmuth’s fast start to the WSOP has cooled off (so far) in the back half of the schedule with the lead he enjoyed for a few days having slipped away. From the looks of it, this might be the first time Hellmuth has really understood what it takes to win this award, part of which is an unwavering dedication to the grind by playing and trying to cash in everything in sight. READ: Five Former WSOP Players of the Year On How To Win It In 2021 However, Hellmuth has some support out there for his call to revise the POY formula. Daniel Negreanu, a constant contender over the past few years, has been lobbying for WSOP officials to streamline the number of results that are counted, making it so that a min-cash in a lower buy-in holds far less weight. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1455114358757871616?s=20 As of the time of publication, Hellmuth has slipped into fourth place behind two of his series nemesis - Jake Schwartz, who took over the lead, Kevin Gerhart is in second after his second series bracelet win, and Anthony Zinno, who set the Brat off in the $10K Stud. It’s tight at the top, with Shaun Deeb and Ari Engel rounding out the top 6. $50K Poker Players Championship Takes Center Stage For many popular poker players, the $50K Poker Players Championship is the actual Main Event of the World Series of Poker. It’s a mix of nine different games, played by the elite-of-the-elite in those games for an enormous sum of money. This year was no different as 63 runners, including some of the biggest names in the game, gathered in the Amazon room to battle for a spot in the final five players. Late on Tuesday night (Day 3) the players battled to burst the money bubble. Eventually, 2019 WSOP Player of the Year Robert Campbell saw his tournament come to an end when he was ousted in 11th place. The next day the final 10 returned and it didn’t take long for Milke Wattel to be eliminated in 10th for $82,623. Daniel Negreanu surged and then fell, leaving it all on the felt as he exited in ninth place for $91,595. Then, Nick Schulman busted in eighth, swiftly leaving to pick up his $106,120, the first of the six-figure payouts. https://twitter.com/PocketFives/status/1456012324372815874?s=20 When the table combined to seven, everything slowed down. Way down. The table battled nearly all day with chips and the chip lead being passed back and forth. In the end, Matt Glantz fell in seventh place collecting $128,236, and was followed by Josh Arieh, appearing at his second final table in as many years, busting in sixth place for $161,422. https://twitter.com/PocketFives/status/1456026758638145540?s=20 Eli Elezra held the overnight chip lead, followed by Paul Volpe, Chris Brewer, Dan Cates, and Ryan Leng. https://twitter.com/junglemandan/status/1456295274075148291?s=20 The final five will play to a winner on Friday, November 5 where one player will have their name added to the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and collect the $954,020 first-place prize. Five Bracelets For Deeb, Rast There has been an uncanny number of three-time career WSOP bracelet winners at the series this year. However this week, it was the five-timer club that added a couple new, very notable members. First, Brian Rast took down the $3K Six-Max for his fifth career bracelet for $474,102 and in the process made a case for induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. “Really, the number one thing at this point is kind of just making the Poker Hall of Fame,” Rast said to PokerGO after his win. “I mean, I feel like, I think I’ve done enough in my career and I turn 40 on November 8, so less than two weeks.” https://twitter.com/tsarrast/status/1453640943832166404?s=20 Another likely future Hall of Fame nominee is Shaun Deeb who put on an impressive performance to take down the $25,000 PLO High Roller for $1,251,860, just the third million-dollar score of the series and vaulting him into the 2021 earnings lead. Like, Rast, when all was said and done, Deeb had an eye on the future. But it’s not the Hall of Fame he was looking forward to, it was tracking down Hellmuth in the bracelet chase. “Oh, I’m going to pass Phil [Hellmuth] eventually. It’s going to take me a while, but I’m going to pass Phil. He’s a great player when he’s sharp, but he can’t play every day like me,” he said. https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1454743417095790600?s=20 As noted above, Deeb’s win thrust him into the top 5 of the 2021 POY race. Four Is The New Three Earlier in the series, Anthony Zinno picked up his third and then fourth career bracelet. This week he welcomed Brian Yoon, Ben Yu, Farzad Bonyadi, and Kevin Gerhart into the club of players who picked up their fourth in 2021. Most recently, Yoon took down the $10,000 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship for a handsome $240,341 score. His list of bracelets is certainly impressive with prior wins the 2013 Little One For One Drop for $663,727, the 2014 $5K 8-Max for $633,341, and then he won the 2017 $1,500 Monster Stack for $1,094,349. His latest victory puts him up over $3.4 million in earnings. Ben Yu’s WSOP resume is equally impressive having won the $10,000 Six-Handed NLHE Championship for $721,453, his 11th cash of the 2021 series. Looking back on Yu’s success shows him winning four bracelets since 2015 including the $10K Limit in 2015 for $291,456, the $10K Limit 2-7 Championship in 2017 for $232,738, and the $50,000 NLHE High Roller in 2018 for more than $1.6 million. Yu moved into fourth place on the NLHE POY leaderboard behind Daniel Lazrus, Pete Chen, and Jason Koon and 6th on the overall leaderboard. Joining them is Farzad Bonyadi, who took down the $10,000 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship for $297,051 (on the same day as Rast won his 5th bracelet) for the fourth of his career. His first bracelet win dates back to 1998 when he won a $2,000 Limit Hold’em event for $429,940. Six years later, in 2004, he took down a $1K Limit 2-7 for another $86,980. His third came in 2005 when he won a $2,500 NLHE tournament for $594,960. Finally, on Wednesday, Kevin Gerhart won his second bracelet of the series, fourth overall, in the $1,500 PLO 8 for a $186,789 score. Gerhart won the $10K H.O.R.S.E. earlier this year for a $361,124 payday and has an online bracelet from 2020 and a $1,500 Razz win in 2019. A big week for multiple bracelet winners. Distenfeld Donates to A Good Cause Last week, the poker community showed up for a fellow player who is faced with an unthinkable future but wanted to make one of his poker dreams come true. This week, another act of incredible generosity took place when Gershon Distenfeld pledged his entire winnings from his victory in the $1,500 NLHE Shootout to charity. Distenfeld earned $204,063 with the victory and every single dime is going to be put to the benefit of others. Distenfeld has made no secret that he’s been graced with more than enough wealth to take care of his family and so he plays poker for the competition and, in the result he wins, to help others. “My wife Aviva and I have been blessed with financial means and it’s a core value of ours to give both our money and our time to help make the world a better place,” he told PokerNews after his win. He followed up with a call to action for all bracelet winners to donate 1% of their winnings to the charity of their choice.
Brian Rast claimed a fifth WSOP bracelet as the modern poker legend bagged the win in the $3,000-entry Six-Max No Limit Hold’em Event #51. Rast won a top prize of $474,102 after ousting John Gallaher heads-up in a thrilling conclusion to a great final table in the Thunderdome at the Rio in Las Vegas. Brian Rast Makes It Five The final six players were reached when Matas Cimbolas bubbled the final table, winning $53,946 in the process. At that stage, Rast sat at the top of the leaderboard with 13.7 million chips, easily clear of his nearest challenger in Nick Yunis. It would be Uruguay’s Francisco Benitez who would bust the final table first, exiting in sixth for $73,107 when his [poker card="As"][poker card="Qs"] was unable to hold against Rast’s [7d[poker card="6d"]. After Benitez shoved when short, the board of [poker card="Jh"][poker card="7c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="3h"][poker card="Ks"] paid off Rast and made him even more powerful with four opponents between him and victory. Next to go was Japanese Day 1 chip leader Jun Obara, who entered the play with the most chips but left in fifth place for $100,827. Yunis’ call for his chips with [poker card="Jc"][poker card="9h"] on a flop of [poker card="Js"][poker card="Td"][poker card="6s"] was correct as Obara showed only [poker card="7s"][poker card="5s"] and after missing flush and running straight outs on the [poker card="Qh"] turn and [poker card="Kd"] river, Obara was on the rail. It was Yunis himself who busted in fourth place when his shove from under the gun with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="5h"] met with defeat to Rast’s [poker card="Ad"][poker card="4d"], the board of [poker card="Ts"][poker card="7c"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3h"][poker card="8c"] ending the chances of Yunis, sending him home with $141,478 and further boosting Rast’s stack. Three became two when Rast, who now had seven times the chips of each of his opponents, busted Tuan Phan in third for $210,913. Rast raised all-in from the small blind with just [poker card="5c"][poker card="4d"], Phan calling off just four big blinds from the big blind with [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Jd"] and failing to hold across the board of [poker card="Jh"][poker card="8d"][poker card="6c"][poker card="5h"][poker card="7c"]. Heads-up was a one-way encounter, with the dominant Rast immediately ending the event, all-in with the dominating [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Td"] against John Gallaher’s [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Th"], with a board of [poker card="Js"][poker card="Jc"][poker card="6h"][poker card="Ts"][poker card="3d"] giving Gallaher the runner-up prize of $293,009 and Rast the victory and his fifth WSOP bracelet. WSOP 2021 Event #51 $3,000 Six-Max Final Table Results: Brian Rast - $474,102 John Gallaher - $293,009 Tuan Phan - $210,913 Nick Yunis - $141,478 Jun Obara - $100,827 Francisco Benitez - $73,107 Distenfeld Wins Shootout For First Gold Bracelet Event #48 saw the gregarious and generous to a fault Gershon Distenfeld win his first-ever WSOP bracelet and pledge to give his entire $204,063 winnings to charity after an epic comeback heads-up win against Johan Schumacher saw a popular winner take gold. Ten players took to the table who had each won two single-table ‘Shootout’ tables to reach that point, and the action was quality from the off. It was Craig Trost who busted first for $16,197 when just a short while after play began, his day slid away. With all ten players starting virtually level in chips, it took a massive cooler for such an early exit and Trost’s [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Kd"] were shot down by Distenfeld’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Ac"] as the eventual winner immediately put himself in a great position to take the title when the ten-high board played out. Ap Garza busted in ninth place for $20,208 when his all-in with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="2d"] was mis-timed, David Tran’s [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Kd"] cruising to victory after all the chips went in pre-flop with two kings on the flop. Garza was followed from the felt by Thomas Boivin in eighth place for $25,473 when the Belgian was eliminated by countryman Schumacher. Boivin’s [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] was no good against Schumacher’s [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Qh"] when the board saw a queen hit the turn on [poker card="6s"][poker card="6h"][poker card="2s"][poker card="Qd"][poker card="7s"]. In seventh place, it was the turn of two-time 2021 WSOP event winner Ari Engel to depart, with the Canadian cashing for $32,439 when his [poker card="Th"][poker card="Td"] couldn’t overtake Distenfeld’s [poker card="Jd"][poker card="Jc"], a jack coming on the flop for good measure. When Sohale Khalili was gone in sixth for $41,728, pocket fours losing to Jonathan Betancur’s [poker card="Js"][poker card="9s"] with two nines coming on the flop, there were just five in the hunt for gold. Tran was busted in fifth place for $54,217 when his shove with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="5d"] was looked up by Orson Young with [poker card="Kc"][poker card="Qh"]. The board of [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Qc"][poker card="Ts"][poker card="Td"][poker card="4c"] sent Tran home after a sweat, but four became three when Young himself busted for $71,142 with [poker card="As"][poker card="8s"] overtaken by Schumacher’s call pre-flop with [poker card="QS"][poker card="Jh"], a queen on the flop doing the fatal damage. Three-handed, an all-America heads-up was prevented by Schumacher’s [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Kh"] which held through a nine-high board against Betancur’s shove with [poker card="5d"][poker card="5c"]. That gave Schumacher a 2:1 chip lead but that was all to change after an epic heads-up battle. In a duel that had everything, it took a bad beat to end what was a mammoth three-hour encounter. Betancur called off his stack with the best hand by far, holding [poker card="Qd"][poker card="Tc"] against Distenfeld’s [poker card="Qc"][poker card="4s"]. But a board of [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Qs"][poker card="7s"][poker card="4h"][poker card="Ks"] saw drama on the turn lead to wild cheers after 4th and 5th street from Disteneld’s rail as the first bracelet in his career landed at the expense of another debut hopeful in the gallant Schumacher. WSOP 2021 Event #48 $1,500 Shootout Final Table Results: Gershon Distenfeld - $204,063 Johan Schumacher - $126,133 Jonathan Betancur - $94,270 Orson Young - $71,142 David Tran - $54,217 Sohale Khalili - $41,728 Ari Engel - $32,439 Thomas Boivin - $25,473 Ap Garza - $20,208 Craig Trost - $16,197 Bonyadi Scores Fourth Career WSOP Title Event #49 concluded with another multiple bracelet winner left celebrating, as Farzad Bonyadi won $297,051 and the title of No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship winner, as he beat Johannes Becker, who earned $183,591 for finishing second, heads-up. With Britain’s Benny Glaser coming into play as the chip leader and favorite, there was no fairytale ending to the tournament for him as he was eliminated in third place for $132,685. And there was another poker legend who ended up disappointed as Daniel ‘Kid Poker’ Negreanu busted the event in eighth place for $32,162 as his WSOP bracelet drought goes on. WSOP 2021 Event #49 $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship Farzad Bonyadi - $297,051 Johannes Becker - $183,591 Benny Glaser - $132,685 Dustin Dirksen - $97,199 Jake Schwartz - $72,185 Julien Martini - $54,359 Ben Diebold - $41,515 Daniel Negreanu - $32,162 First WSOP Cash, First WSOP Bracelet For Wright Event #50 provided the fourth WSOP bracelet winner of the day as Darrin Wright won the $600-entry NLHE/PLO mixed event in some style. It was a fairytale story worthy of the World Series, as Wright won the event in what was his first WSOP cash of any kind, proving that anyone can go from hopeful to hero by sitting down at the felt in Las Vegas. At the final table, Wright led from there being six players left in the hunt for the bracelet, with Victor Paredes second in chips. That was how the tournament played out, with the two men clashing in a famous heads-up fight for the gold with big names such as Dan Zack (57th for $1,974), Mark Seif (31st for $3,717), and Justin Lapka (27th for $3,717) all busting earlier on the final day to whiff the business end of proceedings. WSOP 2021 Event #50 $600 Mixed PLO / NLHE Final Table Results: Darrin Wright - $127,219 Victor Paredes - $78,604 Joshua Ray - $57,276 Colten Yamagishi - $42,192 Hanan Braun - $31,425 Ryan Colton - $23,668 John Gilchrist - $18,028 Kyle Mclean - $13,889 Day 1a of the Seniors Championship took place on Day 28 of the 2021 World Series of Poker as one of the most fondly thought of events on the calendar returned after two years away. With 2,432 entries on the day, just 486 players survived to Day 2, with George Bronstein (585,000) the chip leader as chip bags were zipped shut for the night. Behind Bronstein, a number of well-known faces flourished, with Tim Killday (433,000), three-time WSOP bracelet winner ‘Miami’ John Cernuto (355,500), David Slaughter (351,500) and Edward Zidd all making the top 10 and legends of the felt such as Jack McClelland (175,000), JJ Liu (170,000) and Eli Elezra (112,500 ) all still in their seats as the final river fell. Big names who missed out on the next day’s play included two former WSOP Main Event winners in Robert Varkonyi and Tom MvEvoy, as well as Barry Greenstein, Rep Porter, Kathy Liebert, Ken Aldridge, Linda Johnson and Greg Raymer, as well as Barry and Allyn Shulman. WSOP 2021 Event #52 $1,000 Seniors Championship Top 10 Chipcounts: George Bronstein - 585,000 Tim Killday - 433,000 John Thornton - 373,000 John Cernuto - 355,500 David Slaughter - 351,500 Edward Zidd - 346,000 Angela Jordison - 341,000 Joseph Beasy - 334,000 Antonin Teisseire - 331,000 Giuseppe Iadisernia - 330,500 Finally, Event #53, the $25,000-entry Pot Limit Omaha High Roller tournament had, as you might expect, a stellar field in attendance, as 170 of the world’s best PLO players took to the felt on Day 1a. Las Vegas resident Eric Kurtzman bagged the chip lead with 773,500 chips as just 107 players survived the day, with other star names such as Joseph Cheong (592,000), Yuval Bronshtein (580,000) and Shaun Deeb (566,500) all hot of Kurtzman’s heels. Other big PLO players such as Chance Kornuth(547,000), Dylan Weisman (506,500), Sam Soverel (491,000), Simon Lofberg (487,500) Scott Seiver (225,000) and Daniel Negreanu (213,000) were all well placed, while others didn’t have the same fortune. Day 1 ended with some big names already on the rail, with Chris Brewer, Ryan Laplante, Felipe Ramos, Niklas Astedt, Sorel Mizzi, Joao Vieira, Ali Imsirovic, Jeff Gross and Randy Ohel all considering registration on Day 2, which will remain available until the opening deal. WSOP 2021 Event #53 $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller Top 10 Chipcounts: Eric Kurtzman - 773,500 Joseph Cheong - 592,000 Yuval Bronshtein - 580,000 Shaun Deeb - 566,500 Chance Kornuth - 547,000 Martin Dam - 530,500 Dylan Weisman - 506,500 Michael Batell - 500,000 Sam Soverel - 491,000 With so many funny stories, amusing anecdotes and outrageous memes making their way around the World Series of Poker like a poker pandemic of their own, it would be easy to think it’s all about the jokes, but when poker player and brain cancer sufferer Michael Graydon tweeted that he was hoping to sell 70% of his WSOP Main Event package to play this year, ‘Poker Twitter’ was far from laughing at his plight. In fact, it’s one of the most touching displays of poker player generosity that we’ve ever seen and if the replies to Graydon’s post don’t bring you to tears, we’ll be surprised. In one of the nicest collective gestures the game has ever seen, Graydon will be freerolling not just the Main Event this year, but his trip too, with some poker legends coming forward to help him out in his hour of need. We’ll all be rooting for you, Michael. https://twitter.com/michael_graydon/status/1453238351671304199 Finally, far be it from us to presume that you wouldn’t want to shed some happy tears too. You’re used to a giggle at this point of our review and if Phil Hellmuth’s potential outfit for his legendary Main Event entrance doesn’t raise a smile, we’ll be surprised. Well, he does believe he’s the ‘Greatest’... https://twitter.com/phil_hellmuth/status/1453497747173085188