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  1. James Williams started the final table of the 888poker LIVE London Main Event with an average stack but that didn't stop him from navigating his way to victory for a career-best $154,225 cash and the sixth live win of his career. Craig Sweden started the final table with 23 big blinds, but over the first two hours of play, he was unable to improve on his lot and was left with just five big blinds when he finally found a hand to play. Philippe Souki raised to 185,000 from middle position and Sweden moved all in from th hijack. Souki called instantly and tabled [poker card="ah"][poker card="ac"] while Sweden was in bad shape with [poker card="kc"][poker card="qd"]. The board ran out [poker card="7d"][poker card="3c"][poker card="2h"][poker card="8h"][poker card="4h"] though and Sweden was out in ninth. Just 10 minutes later, Sweden had company on the rail thanks to a blind vs. blind battle. Action folded to Christos Xanthopoulos in the small blind and he moved all and Adnan Dacic call from the big blind. Xanthopoulos tabled [poker card="kc"][poker card="8h"] and found himself dominated by Dacic's [poker card="ks"][poker card="jh"]. The [poker card="ac"][poker card="js"][poker card="tc"] flop left Xanthopoulos on life support and neither the [poker card="9d"] turn or [poker card="as"] river offered any sort of help and he was eliminated in eighth place. Despite picking up the first final table elimination, Souki was the next to go. From UTG+1, Souki raised to 225,000 and Antoine Labat defended his big blind. After the [poker card="kd"][poker card="th"][poker card="7h"] flop got, Labat checked and then moved all in after Souki bet 200,000. Souki called all in for 2,900,000 and tabled [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] for top pair, top kicker. Labat turned over [poker card="ah"][poker card="4h"] for the nut flush draw. The [poker card="3h"] turn complete Labat's flush and left Souki headed for the exit with a seventh place finish as the [poker card="6d"] completed the board. While the first three eliminations came in rapid succession, six-handed play carried on for well over two hours before the next player saw their tournament end. Derek Lawless raised to 400,000 from the hijack and Aleem Kanji moved all in from the button for 720,000 and Lawless called. Kanji showed [poker card="as"][poker card="8c"] while Lawless was ahead with [poker card="8d"][poker card="8h"]. The board ran out [poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2s"][poker card="7d"] to give Lawless a full house and end Kanji's run in sixth place. The next elimination came on the very next hand. Labat raised to 325,000 from the button and Dacic called from the big blind. Dacic checked the [poker card="qc"][poker card="td"][poker card="9c"] flop and then moved all in after Labat bet 500,000. Labat called and turned over [poker card="qd"][poker card="tc"] for top two pair while Dacic needed some help with [poker card="kc"][poker card="qh"]. The [poker card="9s"] river was no help while the [poker card="qs"] river filled up Labat's boat to eliminate Dacic in fifth. An hour later, Hak-Hyun Lee was down to just over five big blinds when he tangled with Lawless in a blind vs. blind scenario. Action folded to Lawless in the small blind and he moved all in and Lee called from the big. Lee showed [poker card="jh"][poker card="7c"] which was dominated by Lawless' [poker card="qd"][poker card="jd"] The [poker card="ah"][poker card="6d"][poker card="4h"] flop gave Lee little hope. The [poker card="9s"] turn and [poker card="4c"] river ended Lee's tournament in fourth place. Three-handed play lasted just over 30 minutes and it was a three-way pot that sent the tournament to heads up. Williams raised from the button to 600,000 and Lawless and Labat called from the blinds. The [poker card="5c"][poker card="5d"][poker card="4c"] flop was good enough for Lawless to bet 1,300,000. Labat moved all in and Williams folded. Lawless called and tabled [poker card="kc"][poker card="jc"] for a flush draw and two over cards while Labat had [poker card="7c"][poker card="6c"] for an open-ended straight flush draw. The [poker card="qc"] turn completed Lawless' flush and left Labat drawing very thin on the river. The [poker card="2s"] was not one of his two outs and he was eliminated in third place. Heads up play began with Lawless holding a one big blind lead over Williams. Over the next 35 minutes, however, Williams took the lead and eventually the title. On the final hand of the night, Lawless raised to 750,000 from the button and Williams called. He then checked the [poker card="kh"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] flop and Lawless bet 950,000. Williams called. The [poker card="ts"] turn got both players to check. Williams then checked again after the [poker card="tc"] river but Lawless shoved for 4,700,000 and after a short turn in the tank, Williams called and tabled [poker card="ks"][poker card="4c"] for two pair while Lawless mucked his [poker card="ah"]jh] and and was eliminated in second place. Final Table Payouts James Williams - £121,000 ($154,225) Derek Lawless - £85,000 Antoine Labat - £57,140 Hak-Hyun Lee - £41,000 Adnan Dacic - £31,000 Aleem Kanji - £25,000 Philippe Souki - £20,500 Christos Xanthopoulos - £16,000 Craig Sweden - £12,500
  2. The World Poker Tour crowned four champions this week, with three coming from the WPT's delayed final tables that took place in Las Vegas and another one coming in Northern California. The conclusion of these four events cause a lot of shakeup in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year standings, and it's now two-time WPT champion Erkut Yilmaz as the frontrunner with only a handful of events to go. Hublot WPT Player of the Year Top 10 1. Erkut Yilmaz - 2,300 points 2. Dylan Linde - 2,000 points 3. Ping Liu - 1,900 points 4. Tony Ruberto - 1,850 points 5. Jake Schwartz - 1,725 points 6. Tony Tran - 1,500 points 7. David Baker - 1,400 points 8. Vinicius Lima - 1,400 points 9. Steve Sung - 1,400 points 10. Ray Qartomy - 1,350 points Yilmaz moved to 2,300 points and into the Hublot WPT Player of the Year lead after he won his second title of the season. Yilmaz won WPT Rolling Thunder in Lincoln, California, for $303,920 and 1,000 points. He defeated a field of 280 entries to win. Earlier in the season, Yilmaz topped a field of 1,075 entries in the WPT Borgata Poker Open to win $575,112 and 1,200 points. Now currently in second place is another player who just had a chance to win his second title of Season XVII, Dylan Linde. Linde won the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December for $1.631 million and 1,400 points. At the WPT Rolling Thunder event that Yilmaz won, Linde finished fourth for $95,350 and 600 points. Entering the recent log jam in the WPT schedule, Ping Liu was in front with 1,900 points. Liu hasn't won a WPT event in Season XVII, though, and was on top thanks to his six cashes and two final tables. After the happenings over the past few days, Liu is now third in the race. Rounding out the top five are currently Tony Ruberto and Jake Schwartz. Ruberto had a great start to the season, with a fourth-place finish at WPT Choctaw and a victory at WPT Maryland, but he's only managed one cash since then. Schwartz has come on nicely in the second half of Season XVII, posting second- and fourth-place finishes at WPT bestbet and WPT Fallsview recently, and then he took 14th at WPT Rolling Thunder. In addition to Yilmaz, David Baker, Vinicius Lima, and Frank Stepuchin won WPT titles this week. Baker won the WPT L.A. Poker Classic for $1.015 million, Lima won the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $728,430, and Stepuchin won the WPT Gardens Poker Championship for $548,825. Baker is now seventh with 1,400 points, Lima is eighth with 1,400 points, and Stepuchin is 12th with 1,300 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. There is a tiebreaker for players who have the same amount of points. In those cases, the player with the most money won in the current season takes the better position. At the end of Season XVII, the Hublot WPT Player of the Year will win a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used as buy-ins to any Season XVIII global WPT event and a Hublot watch. Second place in the race earns a $7,500 WPT Passport and third place gets a $2,500 WPT Passport.
  3. The World Poker Tour has a new WPT Champions Club member. On Monday night, Canadien Demo Kiriopoulos captured first place in the Season XVII WPT Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event. Kiriopoulos topped a record-breaking field of 602 entries to win the C$517,424 ($382,894) top prize. WPT Fallsview Final Table Results 1st: Demo Kiriopoulos - C$517,424* 2nd: Wing Yeung - C$362,853 3rd: Andrew Pantling - C$233,339 4th: Jake Schwartz - C$167,388 5th: James Morgan - C$128,471 6th: Noeung Troeung - C$105,170 *First place includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Nineteen players remained to enter the third and final day of play, with Kiriopoulos sitting 14th on the leaderboard. Chanracy Khun was the only remaining WPT Champions Club member in the field and Garrett Dansereau was in the lead. Khun busted in 11th place, just after the last woman standing, Christine Do, went out in 12th. Kiriopoulos then knocked out Yuri Siniak in 10th place, as Andrew Pantling continued to lead the way. Pantling padded his lead with the knockout of Jason Sagle in ninth place, and then Brad Lampman was eliminated in eighth place by Jake Schwartz. Dansereau, the start-of-day chip leader, bowed out in seventh when his [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ts"] couldn't win against Schwartz's [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kc"], according to the WPT coverage. With six players left, it was still Pantling out in front in a big way. He had 9.475 million and Schwartz was the next largest stack at 4.07 million. At the time, Kiriopoulos was fourth in chips with 2.855 million. Kiriopoulos began chipping up right away and soon found himself second in chips behind only Pantling, who had also chipped up to more than 10 million in chips. On the 28th hand of six-handed play, Noeung Troeung was eliminated in sixth place by James Morgan. A handful of hands later, Kiriopoulos clashed big against Pantling to take over the chip lead. During five-handed play, Kiriopoulos and Pantling exchanged the chip lead a few times. Pantling then took a big chunk out of Morgan before Morgan busted in fifth place to Wing Yeung. Schwartz then went out in fourth place when he couldn't win with the [poker card="Qh"][poker card="Jh"] against the [poker card="As"][poker card="8d"] of Kiriopoulos. Three-handed play started with Pantling and Kiriopoulos almost tied for the chip lead, and Yeung in third place. Yeung found a double through Kiriopoulos, then Kiriopoulos found a double through Pantling. After the dinner break, Kiriopoulos came back and went to work. He quickly moved into the lead before he won a big pot off Yeung who had just doubled through Pantling. That allowed Kiriopoulos to really separate himself from the pack. Pantling went out to Yeung in third place when his pocket kings couldn't hold up against the pocket twos of Yeung. Kiriopoulos had the lead entering heads-up play by about 2-1. The two battled for quite some time, but in the end, Kiriopoulos was too much for Yeung to handle. Kiriopoulos won the big pots and the majority of the small pots to finish Yeung off and win his first WPT title. On the final hand, Kiriopoulos called Yeung's shove with pocket tens. Yeung had the [poker card="Jd"][poker card="6d"] and failed to improve. He earned C$362,853 ($268,511) for his runner-up finish. Hublot WPT Player of the Year Update With the win, Kiriopoulos soared past $1 million in career live tournament earnings. He also picked up a $15,000 seat into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions and 1,200 points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. Ping Liu added to his Hublot WPT Player of the Year lead with a 62nd-place finish at WPT Fallsview. Liu now has 1,900 points and is 50 points ahead of Tony Ruberto in second place. Liu has six cashes and two WPT final tables on the season. Schwartz, who took fourth at WPT Fallsview, added 800 points to move to 1,650 points overall. He's currently in third place. The winner of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year for Season XVII will earn a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used as buy-in credit across global WPT events. The winner also receives a custom Hublot watch. Second place in the race will earn a $7,500 WPT Passport, and third place gets a $2,500 WPT Passport.
  4. The World Poker Tour heads back to fabulous Las Vegas on Monday, March 11, for the first of three consecutive final tables at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino. The three final tables to play out are, in order, the WPT L.A. Poker Classic, WPT Gardens Poker Championship, and WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. The WPT L.A. Poker Classic is headlined by four-time WPT champion Darren Elias and has a $1.015 million first-place prize up for grabs. What Are They Playing For? The winner of the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic will take home $1.015 million in first-place prize money. That includes a $15,000 seat into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. As this event is a televised WPT event, the winner will also score a luxurious Hublot Big Bang timepiece. 1st Place: $1,015,000 2nd Place: $646,930 3rd Place: $473,280 4th Place: $346,550 5th Place: $267,400 6th Place: $201,650 Click here to read about how the final table was set. [caption id="attachment_623033" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] HyperX Esports Arena (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] How To Watch the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Final Table The final table for the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic takes place March 11 starting at 4 p.m. PT at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The event will be filmed for broadcast as part of the WPT’s televised schedule of events. You can wait for that airing on FOX Sports Regional Networks, or you could tune in live to the stream of the events that can be viewed on PokerGO. If you don’t have a subscription to PokerGO, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. Now, let’s meet the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table. [caption id="attachment_623037" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Jean-Claude Moussa (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 1: Jean-Claude Moussa - 1,250,000 Jean-Claude Moussa is a 36-year-old player from Massachusetts, who entered this event with $516,544 in live tournament earnings. He has two prior WPT Main Tour cashes on record, including his career-best live tournament score of $321,840 when he finished fifth in the WPT L.A. Poker Classic back in Season VIII. Other notable results for Moussa included a deep run in the 2011 PCA Main Event for $45,000 and two cashes in the World Series of Poker Main Event for $25,027 and $24,808. Moussa enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table in fourth chip position with 1.25 million. [caption id="attachment_623039" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Matas Cimbolas (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 2: Matas Cimbolas - 4,675,000 Lithuania’s Matas Cimbolas seems to be becoming more and more of a fixture on the World Poker Tour by the day. The 25-year-old already has one WPT title to his credit thanks to winning WPT Nottingham in Season XIII for $313,327. At the end of last season, he made his way to the WPT Tournament of Champions final table and ultimately finished second for $265,590. Those are the two biggest scores of his live tournament career. Interestingly enough, when Cimbolas made the WPT Tournament of Champions final table, it was played out at the HyperX Esports Arena in Vegas. Whereas the enormity of the arena might cause some players to feel a little less comfortable, Cimbolas has the experience of playing there already under his belt. Another interesting note is that Darren Elias, who leads the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table, finished third in the WPT Tournament of Champions event that Cimbolas took second in, so these two have a bit of history on the very stage they’ll be competing on come Monday. Cimbolas entered the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic with just shy of $2 million in live tournament earnings. A third-place finish or higher would move Cimbolas ahead of Dominykas Karmazinas and into second on Lithuania’s all-time money list. Cimbolas enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table second in chips with 4.675 million. [caption id="attachment_623038" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] John Smith (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 3: John Smith - 895,000 John Smith is by far the oldest player at the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic. He’s also the shortest stack remaining. Don’t let those two things fool you, though. Smith packs plenty of game that’s received a popular following in recent years due to his success in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship at the WSOP. In that event, Smith has results of 11th place in 2014 for $26,584, second place in 2016 for $198,192, and second place again in 2017 for $208,154. As Sean Chaffin wrote for the WPT, Smith served in the U.S. Army when he was younger. He was in Vietnam in the 1960s when a tank he was in hit a landmine. Everyone in the tank died, but Smith survived. He would later receive a Purple Heart for his service. Ahead of this event, Smith had $1.256 million in live tournament earnings. He has five prior WPT Main Tour cashes, with his best being a 20th-place result in the $25,000 buy-in WPT World Championship in Season III for $75,485. Smith enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table as the shortest stack with 850,000. [caption id="attachment_623034" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Darren Elias (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 4: Darren Elias - 9,070,000 A four-time World Poker Tour champion, Darren Elias is "Mr. WPT." No one has won more WPT titles than Elias and on Monday he could better his record by scoring an unprecedented fifth. Elias’ first WPT title came in the Season XIII WPT Borgata Poker Open. There, he topped a field of 1,226 entries to win $843,744. Less than a month later, Elias beat a small but tough field of 118 entries in the WPT Caribbean for a score of $127,680. Elias’ third WPT win came in Season XV when he scored first place in the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic for $346,776. He then won the final event of Season XI, the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic, for $387,580. In addition to a victory on Monday being Elias’ fifth World Poker Tour trophy, he’d earn the largest live tournament score of his career. As mentioned above, the 32-year-old Elias has experience playing at the HyperX Esports Arena. On Monday, he’ll start the final table with a sizable lead on the other five. His stack of 9.07 million in chips in 41.5% of the chips in play and nearly double anyone else. [caption id="attachment_623035" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] David Baker (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 5: David Baker - 4,760,000 David Baker, better known as "ODB" to many in the poker world, has put countless hours into poker. In 2012, he finally won the elusive WSOP gold bracelet. Now he has a chance to win his first WPT title and a huge score of $1.015 million. https://twitter.com/audavidb/status/1103776743091953665 Baker has one previous WPT final table on record, coming back in Season V when he took fifth in the WPT Festa Al Lago tournament for $125,240. Money-wise, this is his best WPT result, but he’ll need to jump up two more places to make it his top finish. Second place or better will give Baker the largest tournament score of his live poker career. A win would mean his first World Poker Tour title and first million dollar tournament payday. Baker comes into the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table second in chips with 4.76 million. [caption id="attachment_623040" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Steve Yea (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Seat 6: Steve Yea - 1,205,000 If you’re a diehard follower of poker, you’ve heard the name Steve Yea. For casual fans, his name might not be so common, but Yea has been around for quite some time. Yea has live tournament results dating back to 2007 and he’s amassed more than $630,000 in live tournament winnings entering this event. He hails from South Korea and is making his first WPT Main Tour cash. Yea’s largest live tournament score came from a second-place finish on the Asian Poker Tour in 2008 when he won $250,000 in an event in Macau. He also placed second in an APT event in 2009 in Manila for $100,000 as the second biggest live tournament score of his career. Yea enters the WPT L.A. Poker Classic final table fifth in chips with 1.205 million. [caption id="attachment_623036" align="aligncenter" width="1354"] Hublot WPT Player of the Year and Baccarat Crystal (photo: World Poker Tour)[/caption] Hublot WPT Player of the Year Implications With a prize pool of more than $5.1 million, the maximum amount of points in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race are up for grabs in the Season XVII WPT L.A. Poker Classic. The winner gets 1,400 points, with the rest of the point earnings for the final table as follows. 1st Place: 1,400 points 2nd Place: 1,200 points 3rd Place: 1,100 points 4th Place: 1,000 points 5th Place: 900 points 6th Place: 800 points As it stands, Ping Liu is the man to catch at the top of the Hublot WPT Player of the Year leaderboard. He has 1,900 points thanks to six cashes and two final tables in Season XVII. For the six players at this final table, the points would mean the most for Elias, as he’s the only competitor remaining with points entering this event. Elias has 150 points on the season and could shoot up to 1,550 with a win. That would put him in fourth place overall on the Hublot WPT Player of the Year leaderboard. For the other five, a victory would place them in sixth place on the leaderboard. Despite all of his success on the World Poker Tour over the years, Elias has never been crowned WPT Player of the Year. He has had some close calls, though. Last season, Elias finished third in the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race. In Season XV, he finished sixth. In Season XIV, he ended up in 12th. In Season XIII, he finished second to Anthony Zinno, who also won two WPT titles that season. At the end of Season XVII, the Hublot WPT Player of the Year will win a $15,000 WPT Passport that can be used as buy-ins to any Season XVIII global WPT event and a Hublot watch. Second place in the race earns a $7,500 WPT Passport and third place gets a $2,500 WPT Passport.
  5. The World Series of Poker has a history of making stars and has played a key role in solidifying the reputation of some of the game's biggest stars. Finding the players who could enjoy new success on the WSOP stage isn't an easy task but the PocketFives editorial staff has accepted the challenge. Jeff Walsh, Senior Writer You never really know who that "Breakout Player" will be but I’ve got a couple of players I’m keeping my eye on this summer that I think could take the next step and elevate their game. You might remember Ian Steinman from his hero fold against Joe McKeehan at the 2018 WPT Rolling Thunder Main Event when he spikes a set of kings on the river and after exhausting all of his time bank chips found an amazing fold. Well, Steinman is not only an accomplished online grinder, having won the WSOP.com online Player of the Year award in 2016 but a mid-stakes live beast. Like most amazing NLHE players, he’s fearless at the table and is able to accumulate chips in a hurry. Last year, Steinman barely missed out on his first gold bracelet falling to Eric Baldwin in heads up play in a $1,500 NLHE event, settling for a $197K score for second place. This could be the year he takes the experiences from all those big-time spots and puts it together to pick up his first WSOP win. It feels like it’s just a matter of time for this West Coast grinder and it may be this year. Speaking of big-time my second pick has already had plenty of time in the spotlight. You might remember Julien Martini from his runner-up finish at this year’s PokerStars Players Championship. Martini is a fantastic player who plays all the games and picked up his first bracelet event in 2018. So, with all these accolades how can he break out? I’m tracking Martini to pick up his second bracelet this year in one of the Championship events. He plays all the games and he’s bringing that PSPC bankroll boost to the summer series. I figure when all is said and done, his price in the 2020 $25K Fantasy Draft is going to go through the roof. Donnie Peters, Managing Editor Adam Owen is very much skilled in all poker variants and is known to put in a lot of volume. His name may be known around the poker community, but the Brit has yet to truly breakout. Not only has he not won a WSOP gold bracelet yet, but he’s never experienced a major tournament victory. Specific to the WSOP, Owen has a handful of final tables and a trio of top-three finishes. I’m going to say that 2019 is a huge summer at the World Series of Poker for Owen. He’ll win his first bracelet, rack up the cashes, and contend for WSOP Player of the Year. Ping Liu is another player who can be considered in a similar light as Owen is. Liu has gained some notoriety through his run on the World Poker Tour this season, and he’s challenging to win the WPT Player of the Year award. Like Owen, his best finish in a WSOP event is a third-place result and he’s still searching for his first major tournament title. Liu has been very much on form in recent months and earned some big scores. He closed out 2018 with a fourth-place finish in the WPT Five Diamond event for $600,000. With his padded bankroll and so many No Limit Hold’em events on the WSOP schedule, look for Liu to make a few big splashes this summer. I can easily see him winning his first WSOP gold bracelet if he puts in any sort of decent volume. Lance Bradley, Editor in Chief It's hard to pick players out of relative obscurity that might enjoy success at the WSOP. That's why the first player on my list is more of a known commodity that maybe anybody else listed here. Patrick Leonard is a former #1-ranked player on PocketFives, the current #3-ranked player in the world, and has a little more than $2.4 million in live earnings. Despite all of that, he's never really had a big WSOP. He only has seven WSOP cashes for $114,229 in earnings but he's never committed to a full schedule. That changes this year. Leonard is putting the online grind to the side for seven weeks to play a full WSOP schedule. He's an extremely talented player and will be free of the potential distraction of returning to the online felt. I expect Leonard's going to find his way deep in a number of events this summer and might finally find himself with a realistic shot at winning his first bracelet. Each year there's a handful of players who skyrocket into the public eye with double-digit level cashes after having previously found some success at the Rio. Last year, Lexi Gavin cashed seven times at the WSOP including a 12th place finish in a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha. That doubles her lifetime career cashes and I don't see any reason why the upward trend can't continue. She's predominantly a No Limit Hold'em player and the WSOP schedule includes an almost endless number of opportunities for her to run up a stack and potentially make her first career final table.
  6. Day 2 of the 2019 World Series of Poker gave poker fans the first bracelet winner of the year and a massive turnout on Day 1A of the newest $500 buy-in tournament on the schedule and set the tone for what should be an amazing first weekend of play. Opening Day of Big 50 Draws Massive Crowd; Cosimo Bisogno Leads WSOP organizers knew that the $500 buy-in, $5 million guaranteed Big 50 event was going to be popular, but Thursday's turnout probably exceeded their expectations. Over 6,100 players packed each and every available table at the Rio on Thursday with 1,620 of them surviving to play Day 2A. Leading the way after Day 1A is Italy's Cosimo Bisogno with 932,000. His closest competition, Luis Pinho, bagged up 808,000. Other players to advance to Day 2A include former #1-ranked PocketFiver Steven Van Zadelhoff, Ismael Bojang, Loni Harwood, Dietrich Fast, 2018 WSOP Main Event runner-up Tony Miles, and Shaun Deeb. All surviving players will return to the Rio for Day 2A on Friday at 5 PM to play eight more levels. There are still three starting flights available for players to enter and the previous record for largest WSOP bracelet event ever appears to be in danger. In 2015, 22,374 players entered the $565 Colossus. With field sizes expected to increase each day, the likelihood of passing 25,000 players appears to be realistic at this point. Top 10 Chip Counts Cosimo Bisogno - 932,000 Luis Pinho - 808,000 Andrew Baldwin - 785,000 Brenton Rincker - 762,000 Ronald Leonard - 703,000 Sophal Yon - 700,500 Dwayne Kawar - 679,000 Marko Maher - 677,000 Tal Avivi - 671,000 Matthew Garvey - 666,000 Brian Green Wins First 2019 Bracelet, Denies Imsirovic, Conniff, Negreanu At a final table that included Daniel Negreanu, three-time bracelet winner Loren Klein, former WPT World Championship winner Asher Conniff, and breakout star Ali Imsirovic, Brian Green stole the show to win the first bracelet of 2019 and the first of his career. "I tend to do well when I’m playing against pro-heavy fields. I know a lot of those guys," said Green, who recently moved to Las Vegas. "I’ve been coming out here for at least one hundred days a year over the last few years. I got my dog here, sleeping in my own bed, I thought that might be an advantage this summer." When action began on Wednesday, all eyes were squarely on Negreanu. Having sold pieces of himself at no markup, Negreanu had a chance to give his investors a guaranteed net positive score for the summer had he finished in second place or better. Unfortunately for those who were fortunate enough to have some of his action, the two-time WSOP Player of the Year winner lasted just 12 hands and was eliminated in sixth place. After Ping Liu was eliminated in fifth place, Klein was denied the opportunity to become the first player to win a bracelet in four consecutive years when he was eliminated in fourth place. Despite starting the final table with the chip lead, Conniff wasn't able to go wire-to-wire and instead had to settle for a third place result. This was Conniff's first WSOP final table in Las Vegas. Green ended up heads-up against Imsirovic, the Global Poker Awards Breakout Player of the Year. The pair are actually friends away from the felt thanks to a mutual friend. The final table took just 72 hands to complete thanks to the Turbo strucuture. Final Table Payouts Brian Green - $345,669 Ali Imsirovic - $213,644 Asher Conniff - $145,097 Loren Klein - $100,775 Ping Liu - $71,614 Daniel Negreanu - $52,099 Casino Employees Event Down to Final Table A familiar face sits atop the chip counts after Day 2 of the $565 Casino Employees event. Isaac Hanson, who finished 38th in this event last year, leads the final six players heading into the final day of play. Hanson, a WSOP media relations employee, bagged up 5,550,000 and will have the best chance to walk away with the bracelet and the $62,345 first place prize when action resumes Friday at Noon. Bracelet winner Jon Friedberg was one of the 97 players to be sent packing on Day 2. Final Table Chip Counts Isaac Hanson - 5,550,000 Jorge Ruiz - 4,820,000 Nicholas Haynes - 2,725,000 Jesse Kertland - 1,620,000 Adam Lamers - 1,490,000 Jeffrey Fast - 1,190,000 Andrew Brown Ends Day 1 of $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo in Front Despite the masses in the Big 50 taking up a good chunk of the available tables, 853 players got registered and seated in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event. Andrew Brown, who won his only bracelet in a $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo event in 2008, finished Day 1 atop the chip counts with 78,000 chips. Only two other players managed to build up a stack of at least 60,000. Derek McMaster finished with 66,700 for the second biggest stack and Eric Watkins bagged up 61,100. Just 373 players moved onto Day 2 including David Benyamine, Jeff Madsen, John Monnette, Jason Somerville, Robert Mizrachi, Daniel Negreanu, Brandon Shack-Harris and Mike Matusow. Action resumes at 2 PM and players will need to navigate through another 10 levels if they hope to have a shot at the bracelet and the $228,228 first place prize money. Top 10 Chip Counts Andrew Brown - 78,000 Derek McMaster - 66,700 Eric Watkins - 61,100 Curtis Phelps - 58,200 Ian Johns - 53,800 Sean Yu - 51,800 John Esposito - 46,500 Kevin Gerhart - 46,000 Cory Chaput - 41,000 Eli Elezra - 41,000

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