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[caption width="640"] Valentin Vornicu is the only player with over 600,000 chips in the 2016 WSOP Main Event.[/caption] Valentin Vornicu has dominated the WSOP Circuit over the years. The California poker pro has won eight Circuit rings and on Day 2AB of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event, he took a gigantic step towards winning his first WSOP bracelet. Vornicu bagged up 838,600 after 5.5 levels of play on Tuesday. He is 252,600 ahead of the next closest player, Jamie Shavel. Despite being one of the most successful players in WSOP Circuit history, this marks the first time he’s played the WSOP Main Event. Even as a WSOP rookie, he recognizes just how early they are in the tournament. “It’s Day 2. This is a 10-day tournament, anything can happen,” said Vornicu. “I’m happy. I played good I think. I made good calls, made good bets, cards came my way, but it’s just one day.” Vornicu has been in Las Vegas all summer grinding away and has four WSOP cashes to show for it. One thing he hasn’t had is any real rest days. That all changes now. “It's probably my second day off in a month and a half,” said Vornicu, who indicated he plans on catching up on some sleep on Wednesday. “If we make it further, there's not going to be any more rest days, so I've got to take advantage.” Chad Power, who had a deep run in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, appears to be up to his old tricks. Power finished with 546,800 - good enough for a top five stack. Another player who has already enjoyed one deep Main Event run in their career and is now in position for another one is Gaelle Baumann. After stone-bubbling the November Nine in 2012, Baumann finished Tuesday with the ninth best stack at 504,600. Jason Somerville also managed to survive on Tuesday, but will have some work to do coming back on Day 3 with just above starting stack. Other notables to make it through Day 2AB include Maria Ho (435,500), Alexander Kostritsyn (388,900), former #1-ranked PocketFiver Conor Beresford (386,900), Dietrich Fast (359,500), Prahlad Friedman (332,300) and Antonio Esfandiari (327,400). Two players who did not manage to make it to Day 3 were former Full Tilt Poker pros and executives Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. After the fireworks at the end of Day 1B, Lederer had a relatively quiet Day 2 until being eliminated halfway through the day. A total of 760 players advanced from Day 2AB and will now take Wednesday off as the Day 1C survivors play 5.5 levels beginning at 11 AM PT. Top 10 Chip Counts Valentin Vornicu - 838,600 Jamie Shaevel - 586,000 Alvaro Lopez - 573,200 Ramin Hajiyev - 558,400 Chad Power - 546,800 Petr Bartagov - 546,000 Ronnie Pease - 518,100 Jonas Lauck - 510,000 Gaelle Baumann - 504,600 Eric Afriat - 501,000
[caption width="640"] Valentin Vornicu finally has a WPT cash to his credit (WPT photo)[/caption] When the bubble finally burst in the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Main Event on Tuesday afternoon, Valentin Vornicu was one of the happier guys in the Bicycle Casino’s poker room. Guaranteed his first career WPT cash, Vornicu was hoping that his status as a Bike regular would help get him even deeper in the event. “Being a local here - it’s more or less my local casino - I know most of the players here. That’s an advantage too compared to somebody who travels and doesn’t know how the locals play,” said Vornicu. An advantage indeed. Vornicu has had a ton of success at the Bike over the last few years, taking down four WSOP Circuit events while cashing 16 times. He’s also won the Casino Champion award in 2016 and 2017. The WPT though is a different animal altogether. “I’d say half the guys are about the same, but in this one you see more “big name” players. You’ve got Phil Hellmuth and a bunch of high rollers that travel the bigger circuit that would not show up for a $1675, that will show up for this,” said Vornicu. “It doesn’t really change it for me that much, honestly. I’ve played these guys at the Series, at Seminole and all these other places.” While his WPT numbers are unimpressive, he did have a deep WSOP Main Event run in 2016, finishing 23rd for $269,430, and he’s coming off of a fourth-place finish in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event for $79,296. Even though he might have more experience than some of the other locals still in, he’s shied away from playing WPT events over the years. “I don’t really do the WPT because, or I haven’t done it until now. I just never felt like doing it. I don’t know why. First of all, the buy-ins are really high. I’m four buy-ins into this thing and I need to get into the last 24 to make anything,” said Vornicu. “The buy-in being so high, you can easily - well not easily - brick 20 of these in a row, due to variance. That's just a lot of money right there if you think about it. So, I guess that’s one of the reasons, I don’t think bankroll wise I was able to fire a million of these a year like some people do.” All of that could change if this run turns into something more than a min-cash. The 34-year-old, who lives in San Diego, could find himself in contention for WPT Player of the Year if he wins Legends. Being in the running for that award could shift his priorities over the next few months as he chases POY points. “I know there’s a points system and all that, so it really depends on how I do here. I know pretty much half of this field by name, it’s going to get tougher and tougher as it goes,” said Vornicu. As much as he needs or wants to finish 24th or better to show a profit in this event, he’s really only focused on finishing in top spot and getting his name etched on the WPT Champions Cup. “This summer, I stayed for two months in Vegas, I played everything, every day, and I only won one tournament - it was a HORSE tournament at Aria - and that was one of the best moments of my summer, said Vornicu. “Winning a tournament, for me, it’s what I live for. I’m not here to min-cash”
One look at #WSOP gives even those with the slightest interest in poker a severe case of FOMO. The first week of the 49th Annual World Series of Poker had it all. Big names fighting for multimillion-dollar scores and players mixing it up both on and off-the-felt. It’s impossible to catch everything that’s happening at the Rio in Las Vegas but here are some of the highlights we enjoyed that will make you feel like you’re in the thick of the action yourself. So Many Rings When you want to stretch your bankroll, perhaps a single table satellite is the way to go. Just beat a soft field of 9 other players and next thing you know you’re vying for a gold bracelet. Well, maybe the field isn’t that soft. On to week two!