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Drama, excitement and Doyle Brunson. Poker fans had all their Christmases come at once on Thursday night as the ‘Godfather of Poker’ himself, ‘Texas Dolly’, made an appearance at the 2021 WSOP and sat down in the Main Event. On what was a dramatic opening day in many different ways, Brunson survived to battle again on Day 2. Doyle Brunson Takes The Main Event Stage It’s been many years since the 1976 and 1977 WSOP Main Event world champion sat down in the world’s biggest poker tournament. In fact, his appearance in the Super Seniors event earlier this series looked very much like a one-off. It transpired not to be, however, as Brunson sat down on Day 1a of the Main, with 522 other players putting down $10,000 to play in the one that every poker player on the planet wants to win. Fellow poker professional Felipe Ramos was beyond excited that a hero to him and millions of other poker players was in the building. https://twitter.com/FelipeMojave/status/1456420740027215872 A 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, Brunson escaped Day 1 with more than double the chips he started with, coming through the day in 41st place on 151,000 chips. That was less than half of the total amassed by the Day 1a chip leader Mustapha Kanit (363,500), who ended the day top of the leaderboard on which 348 survivors sat. Elsewhere in the top 10, Alex Livingston (319,200), Fabian Quoss (273,800) and Billy Baxter (248,600) totalled big numbers of over four times their initial stack, with other big names such as Adrian Mateos (212,500), Yuri Dzivielevski (197,200), Perry Friedman (195,500), JJ Liu (180,200), and the 1983 WSOP Main Event winner Tom McEvoy (96,900) all bagging up decent stacks. There was a moment of controversy during the opening day of the Main Event as police locked down the Rio amid a ‘situation’ during the evening, with an unrelated crime leading some of those who were on hand to serve and protect to step in and do just that. https://twitter.com/JohnnieVibes/status/1456478253711982592 It would appear that the man was in possession of a suspicious package, with British actor, poker pro and WSOP event runner-up Sam Razavi turning detective to solve the crime. https://twitter.com/Sam_Razavi/status/1456540017384329223 Among those to fall on Day 1a was the reigning world champion Damian Salas. The Argentinian busted in the first level after his [poker card="As"][poker card="Qc"] was all-in and at risk against Peter Gould’s [poker card="5s"][poker card="5s"], with the latter making a straight on the board of [poker card="9d"][poker card="8c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="7c"][poker card="6s"]. Others to fall at the first fence included Calvin Anderson, Upeshka De Silva, Dylan Weisman and Jake Schwartz, whose lead in the race to become 2021 WSOP Player of the Year took a big hit. WSOP 2021 Event #67 $10,000 Main Event Top 10 Chipcounts: Mustapha Kanit - 363,500 Rittie Chuaprasert - 345,700 Alex Livingston - 319,200 David Fong - 298,500 Fabian Quoss - 273,800 Billy Baxter - 248,600 Dragana Lim - 237,700 Vladimir Vasilyev - 232,000 Vidur Sethi - 226,200 Ayaz Mahmood - 221,200 Eric Zhang Wins Salute To Warriors Event #63, the Salute to Warriors, cost $500 to enter and concluded on Day 36 of the 2021 WSOP with Eric Zhang the champion for $102,465. With the USO receiving a charitable donation of over $64,000 from players’ buy-ins before the final table, Anthony Mccurdy was the first to bust the nine-handed final table, earning $9,857 when his [poker card="8c"][poker card="8d"] ran into Chulhan Choi’s [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Kd"] and was unable to overtake the cowboys on the gallop to the river with all the chips in pre-flop. Next to bust was Chris Corbo, who went in eighth for $12,471 when his [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Qc"] couldn’t catch Mitch Garshofsky’s [poker card="Ac"][poker card="Ts"]. The ten-high board condemned Corbo to the rail and he was joined by Hlib Kovtunov, whose [Ah[poker card="5h"] couldn’t catch a card against Zhang’s [poker card="2c"][poker card="2s"], which made quads by the river to send the Ukrainian home in seventh for $15,943. When short-stacked Marty Zabib busted in sixth for $20,592 and was then followed by another shortie, Mitch Garshofsky, going in fifth for $26,866, just four remained, with Zhang making waves. So too was Bradley Rogoff, who busted Choi in fourth place for $35,406 when pocket tens survived against Choi’s pre-flop short-stack shove with [poker card="Qd"][poker card="9d"]. Rogoff couldn’t hang on, however, busting next himself for $47,125 when he shoved from the small blind with [poker card="Ad"][poker card="7d"] and was looked up by Guy Hadas in the big blind with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Qs"], a seven on the flop providing cruel hope for Rogoff, who saw a queen on the river dash his chances onto the rocks. Heads-up, Hadas still had work to do to overtake the dominant Zhang, who had 25.2 million to his opponent’s 15.6 million. Zhang, however, was not to be caught, and extended his lead before the final hand where his [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Jc"] was all he needed to call when Hadas shoved on the turn of a board showing [poker card="Qs"]Ts][poker card="2h"][poker card="Kh"]. Hadas had pushed with [poker card="Ah"][poker card="5h"], but could find neither straight nor flush on the [poker card="Ad"] river, which confirmed Zhang’s victory for $102,465 and his first WSOP bracelet in his first WSOP event of the series. WSOP 2021 Event #63 $500 Salute to Warriors Final Table Results: Eric Zhang - $102,465 Guy Hadas - $63,344 Bradley Rogoff - $47,125 Chulhan Choi - $35,406 Mitch Garshofsky - $26,866 Marty Zabib - $20,592 Hlib Kovtunov - $15,943 Christopher Corbo - $12,471 Anthony Mccurdy - $9,857 Mini Main Down To Five The Mini Main Event, which costs $1,000 to enter, saw its penultimate day take place on Thursday, as Greek player Georgios Sotiropoulos reached the final table with a huge chip lead. Piling up a whopping 105,550,000 chips, Sotiropoulos has more than double his nearest challenger Jordan Meltzer (39,000,075) and three times as many as Wataru Miyashita from Japan, who is third in chips with 35,900,000. Elsewhere in the final five, James Patterson (26,600,000) and James Rubinski (22,325,000) know that they have a lot of work to do to catch the runaway chip leader, who is the only man of the five to have won a WSOP bracelet before. In fact, Sotiropoulos has two in his past, and must now be a huge favorite to win a third tomorrow when the lights hit the Thunderdome felt. WSOP 2021 Event #65 $1,000 Mini Main Event Final Table Chipcounts: Georgios Sotiropoulos - 105,550,000 Jordan Meltzer - 39,000,075 Wataru Miyashita - 35,900,000 James Patterson - 26,600,000 James Rubinski - 22,325,000 Josh Arieh Cracks $10K PLO Top 10 Danny Chang is the chip leader with just 12 players remaining in the $10,000-entry PLO Hi-Lo 8 or Better, otherwise known as Event #66. Chang has a big lead, too, with 3,620,000 chips to his name, almost double those of Dan Colpoys, his fellow American and closest challenger. Elsewhere in the chipcounts, there is a strong spot for Josh Arieh, who bagged up 1,015,000 on the night, a shade under another 2021 WSOP bracelet winner in Russian player Anatolii Zyrin (1,155,000). With British mixed game player Adam Owen (955,000) and John Esposito (480,000) both in the field, it’s sure to be a dramatic and decisive final day in equal measure. WSOP 2021 Event #66 $10,000 PLO8 Championship Top 10 Chipcounts: Danny Chang - 3,620,000 Dan Colpoys - 2,040,000 Matt Woodward - 1,600,000 Anatolii Zyrin - 1,155,000 Josh Arieh - 1,015,000 Adam Owen - 955,000 Aaron Kupin - 500,000 John Esposito - 480,000 Alan Sternberg - 410,000 Jason Riesenberg - 360,000 Finally, we couldn’t let you go into the night without a look at what every poker player desires more than anything this Winter - the 2021 WSOP Main Event bracelet. https://twitter.com/WSOP/status/1456339540931592195