Well, the World Series of Poker is over halfway completed, and there has been no shortage of great stories once again this year. One of the main points of interest is that once again it appears as though the event is growing as a whole. This is great news for the poker industry, as there are thousands of tournaments around the world these days, so finding this many players in Las Vegas for the WSOP (and the other events being held in the city) during June and July can only be a positive.
With so many bracelets already awarded and prize pools into the millions, there is a lot to catch up on, so let’s bring you up to speed on some of the more notable news stories.
Mizrachi still a factor…and a beast!
Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi is one of the best known poker players in the world. A long-time pro on both the tournament and cash game circuits, Mizrachi isn’t playing as much on a global scale since getting married. However, the WSOP is one event he always shows up for each year, and in particular, he likes to get his money into the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship. This field is one of the toughest in all of poker, and this year The Grinder once again took home the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, along with the coveted WSOP bracelet and $1,239,126 in first place money.
This is the 3rd PPC bracelet for Mizrachi, which is a stunning set of results, especially when given the competition in this event. This is no place for amateurs, with the top ten in the event featuring no less than 8 former bracelet winners, including the likes of legendary Phil Ivey. When it came down to the final table, he had to best players like John Hennigan, Dan Smith and Mike Leah to walk away with the crown. Many will say that this is the most impressive performance in any one event by any player. We’ll see what kind of bounce it gives The Grinder as the Main Event draws near.
Good to see familiar names, or is it?
Mizrachi wasn’t the only well-known name to win a bracelet this year. The top pros in the world are playing as many events as they can to try to etch their names in the history books. By far the best run of the poker tournament year to date belongs to Justin Bonomo. The American-born pro has had a run for the ages this year, winning over 14.5 million USD already. This run culminated with a win in the $10,000 Head’s Up No Limit Hold’em event, where he beat out 113 other players to walk away with the jewelry and top cash prize. The way he is running, it is tough to count Bonomo out of the top contenders for this year’s Main Event.
Recently, Shaun Deeb returned to form with a deep run in the Poker Player’s Championship but stepped up even more with a win in the $25,000 8 Handed Pot Limit Omaha event. The third bracelet of Deeb’s career wouldn’t come easy, with a star-studded final table featuring Jason Koon and former Main Event Champion Scotty Nguyen. The $1,402,683 he won in the event was his largest cash by far as well.
Finally, there was a mixed bag of reaction to the final table run of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson at the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event. The 6-time bracelet and former Main Event Champion hasn’t spent much time at the felt since the Black Friday events at Full Tilt Poker exposed him and his partners as fraudsters. Ferguson did attempt an apology via video before the WSOP this year, but given its half-hearted nature, it seems to have had a polarizing effect. Regardless, Ferguson had the chip lead with 4 players left only to find himself on the wrong side of many all-ins to finish in fourth place. We’ll see if his partner-in-crime
Howard Lederer makes an appearance this year.
Crossover Success for Albini
It’s hard to say if many people who played with “Steven” during the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event at this years WSOP knew his background. Those of us who lived through the grunge era remember Steve Albini as a legendary music producer, having been behind the board for gems like Nirvana’s “In Utero” and The Pixies “Surfer Rosa” amongst many others.
Albini proved not to be a one-trick pony with his win in event 31, besting a final table that featured Chris Ferguson and Jeffrey Lisandro. Albini took down the 300-person field for a $105,000 and win for the rest of us.
A Mother/Son Combo for the ages!
When Farhintaj Bonyadi won the $1,000 Super Seniors event number 36, it was some firsts. She was the first female winner of a bracelet this year, and it is always great for the sport to have women become champions. More importantly, however, is the fact that she is now part of the first mother/son combination of champions in the history of the WSOP. Mama Bonyadi has the current bragging rights in the family, with her son Farzad “Freddy” Bonyadi coming up empty so far this year but owning three bracelets of his own.
A legend says goodbye…at least he says he does.
Finally, the word came last week that legendary poker player Doyle Brunson was stepping away from the felt for good. The two-time main event winner and staple in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio, Brunson announced it was his last event when he entered the $10,000 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship. After being a legendary high-stakes player for over six decades, the man has decided it is time to spend his final years with his ailing wife. The poker world will forever be at a loss without Brunson around, as his charm has made pros and amateurs feel great in his presence.
Brunson didn’t leave without a fight, however, giving the crowds a the Rio something to talk about when he and his son Todd made it to the final table of his final event. The storybook ending wasn’t meant to be, as Doyle was knocked out in sixth place.
Let’s see what the final few weeks of the WSOP have in store for us, but if the first few were any indication, we are in for a wild ride!