Monday, June 1, 2009

WSOP Day 5 - Two for the money

After two straight days without a bracelet, 2 championships were won yesterday. Congratulations are in order to Vitaly Lunkin for taking down the Bracelet in Event #2. He bested a field comprised of exactly 200 other players, that included easily the most challenging, and best players in a single tournament ever assembled. The win gave Lunkin the jewelry and a nice $1,891,012 prize for the 1st place finish.

But while the money was impressive, I think that the better story belongs to the champion of Event #3. The 2009 WSOP has been a year of records so far, and perhaps it was only fitting that the Omaha 8-or-Better event concluded with a history making performance. Thang Luu, who was last years defending champion in this event, eclipsed a record-setting field of 918 entrants to capture his second bracelet. What makes Luu’s run in this event even more amazing, was that back in 2007, Luu took 2nd place in this event for $147,726. Then last year, he bettered that performance by overcoming the largest Omaha Tournament ever played to win the event for $243,342. But this year, he performed a feat that can only be compared to Johnny Chan’s back to back World Championships. His second win in a row in this event will leave Luu in the poker annals as maybe the greatest tournament Omaha player of all time, as his bracelet winning performance this year earned him $263,135. He began the tournament early with the chip lead, and would ride the large stack to the final table. Eventually, with 3 players remaining, Luu would over take the lead, and never look back. I think that the WSOP will have a hard time topping this story this year. Congratulations to Thang Luu.

In this event, the final table payouts went as such:
1st – Thang Luu, Champion ($263,135
2nd – Ed Smith ($162,110)
3rd – Ming Reslock ($106,373)
4th – Robert Price ($73,405)
5th – Pascal Leyo ($53,293)
6th – Jordan Rich ($40,612)
7th – Jim Geary ($32,404)
8th – Freddy Deeb ($27,029)
9th – Senovio III Ramirez ($23,520)

In Event #2 – It was Lunkin’s day for sure. This was Lunkin’s second WSOP bracelet. The other came in last year’s $1,500 buy in NLHE event, where Lunkin finished 1st for $628,417. His only other WSOP cash had come in the 2006 main event where he’d squeezed into the money in 829th place for a cash of $14,597. But he dominated the play in the end at this final table winning many of his pots without a showdown, and that proved to be the winning formula. Here’s how the final table finished:

1st – Vitaly Lunkin – Champion ($1,891,012)
2nd – Isacc Haxton ($1,168,566)
3rd – Greg Raymer ($774,927)
4th – Dani Stern ($548,315)
5th – Justin Bonomo ($413,166)
6th – Alec Torelli ($329,730)
7th – Alex Velhuis ($277,940)
8th – Noah Schwartz ($246,834)
9th – Ted Forrest ($230,317)

It was a tremendous 3 day tournament, and congratulations to Lunkin for his second bracelet.

In the other 2 events played that day, Event #4 was completely overshadowed by the Champions event. I talk about the Champions Event second however as the Event #4 update is brief.

3012 players today, and 3000 players yesterday, combined for a field of 6,012 total. It was a large enough field that the $1,000 buy in NLHE event needed to be broken down into 2 day 1’s. Today was day 1b, and the main story was that of the play of poker great JC Tran. My favorite story of this event was that in learning that Tran was not the chip leader, he got fired up. Tran was sitting at a table with around $50k in chips, and he was told that the day 1a chip leader finished on 130,000. JC proclaimed, “How am I going to reach that here? They need to break my table.” Shortly after that, JC was moved to the Amazon room, and as play ended, he was around 120,000. There are now 767 total players from both days remaining, and they will all combine today to play today at around 2PM.

In a special event this year, the 40th WSOP is having an invitation only invent. The 20 surviving Main Event champions were invited to a free roll to compete for a Corvette. The champions that have already made their exit from the event include, Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, Jerry Yang, Amarillo Slim Preston, Brad Daughtery, Scotty Nguyen, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Johnny Chan, Joe Hachem, and also Greg Raymer. Unfortunately for Raymer, he was blinded out for much of the tournament having been playing in the #Event 2 $40k final table during the same time. He did sit down for a couple of orbits during the $40k dinner break, but the lost chips in the blinds were really too much to overcome. He’d eventually return after busting in 3rd place from the $40k, and move all in with Ad-9c only to have Carlos Mortensen wake up with KK. The board offered no help, and Raymer was eliminated in 16th.

But of the remaining 10 players, here’s how they are chipped:
1st – Carlos Mortensen (42,375)
2nd – Tom McEvoy (31,000)
3rd – Jim Bechtel (30,475)
4th – Doyle Brunson (20,250)
5th – Dan Harrington (19,975)
6th – Peter Eastgate (18,425)
7th – Huck Seed (15,400)
8th – Robert Varkonyi (13,450)
9th – Berry Johnston (7,625)
10th – Phil Hellmuth (1,125)

The Poker Brat is extremely short stacked, and his stay will likely be short lived at this table.

That’s a wrap on Day 5. Today’s Day 6 brings the action for Event #4 closer to a final table, and the final table for the Champions Invitational will be played out as well. In addition to that, two more events kick off as the 3 day Event #5 and Event #6 get started. Event #5 is the $1,500 buy in Pot-Limit Omaha event, and Event #6 is the World Championship Seven Card Stud $10,000 buy in event. That one should prove VERY interesting. That’s it for day 5.

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