Another pair of bracelets were awarded on Thursday, both in unique circumstances, while two more events moved on two final tables later today with big names at the top of the board in each.
WSOP newcomer Michael Chu proved that the rebuy race is not always to the deepest of pocket, by capturing the title in Event #8, $1,000 No Limit Hold 'Em (w/ rebuys). In an event where the early play is always marked by massive rebuys of chips — with many name pros mixing it up early and often in hopes of building a large stack early — Chu ended up on top with nary a single rebuy. Chu trailed both Amir Vahedi and Michael Gracz as this event's final table began, with several other name players also still in the hunt, but the biggest names went nowhere here; after Chu, the next two spots were claimed by Tommy Vu and Barry Cales. Chu's $1,000 total entry paid off handsomely, perhaps befitting a stock trader (his other job, back in L.A.). The victory was worth $585,744.
Event #9, $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo Split, went to the first-ever Russian citizen to capture WSOP gold, Alex Kravchenko. (Russian immigrants, including Ralph Perry twice in '06, have captured WSOP titles.) The Moscow native moved up from fifth at day's start to overtake leaders John Varner and Jordan Morgan at another final table where the early deep stacks faded from view. Bryan Devonshire came on to take second while Varner, well ahead of the pack at the start, held on for third. Kravchenko's win was worth $228,446.
Event #10, $2,000 No Limit Hold 'Em, became a rout during the late hours of play. Justin 'ZeeJustin' Bonomo went on a rush to top two million on chips as the final table was set, leaving the other players with work to do today. Bonomo's nearest competitors entering play are Hunter Frey (852,000), Michael Banducci (717,000) and Stan Weiss (609,000). Bonomo has enjoyed a good deal of recent live-tournament success, however, and will likely be in this one to the end.
Over in Event #11, $5,000 the Seven Card Stud World Championship, a number of heavy hitters remained in action as Day Two play began. Among them was Johnny Chan, in search of a career-record 11th WSOP bracelet, but crowd expectations to watch a piece of history were dashed when Chan departed in 18th spot. The biggest movers of the day were Phil Ivey, who moved into the chip lead part way through the day's play and will arrive at the final table in second spot, and David Oppenheim, who pounded the short stacks late as part of a commanding surge to the lead. Oppenheim will began this final table with 609,000 in chips with Ivey next in line at 322,000. Pat Pezzin, who secured his third straight 2007 WSOP cash, starts in third at 234,000.
Event #12, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed event, saw the aggressive action so typical of the format. The 1,427-player field was trimmed to the 127-player money bubble in just 11 hours, and all the way down to 62 by the end of the opening day's play. The leader is none other than Player of the Year pacesetter J.C. Tran, sitting with over 212,000 chips entering Day Two. Check out our interview with J.C. in our Video Gallery. Eric 'Sheets' Haber held down second spot overnight, with players such as Erik Seidel, Joe Awada and 'Miami' John Cernuto still alive.
Today's noon-kickoff event, $5,000 Pot Limit Hold 'Em (Event #13), is heavy on the star power. Early movers here include Tex Barch, Daniel Negreanu, Sorel 'Imper1um' Mizzi, Kristy Gazes, Thomas Wahlroos, Joe Tehan, Jason Strasser and Jeff Lisandro. Early bustouts included Alex Jacob, J.J. Liu, Tony G, David Williams, 2006 WSOP ME winner Jamie Gold, Mike Matusow and Tuan Le.