Big names made the bigger splash at the WSOP yesterday, with the biggest of all being that by Allen Cunningham, who claimed his fifth career WSOP bracelet in Event #13, $5,000 World Championship Pot Limit Hold 'Em. Cunningham came from third place to triumph over one of the most notable final-table lineups of the WSOP to date, also including early chip leader Jeff Lisandro, Gavin Griffin, Humberto Brenes, Keith Lehr, and last year's champ in the same event, Jason Lester. Cunningham moved up to challenge for the lead early, and he and Lisandro eventually battled heads-up for the title, with Brenes finishing third. Cunningham also banked $487,287 for the victory.
The race for the record-breaking 11th career bracelet heated up, too. Both Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth positioned themselves for a run at another title, with Hellmuth having the first chance at the final table of Event #15, $1,500 No Limit Hold 'Em. Hellmuth enters today's final table with just under million chips, in sight of chip leader Rick Fuller, who rests about 300,000 chips higher. Scott Clements started the day in third as the only other player over a million in chips.
Doyle Brunson has a chance to be the first to 11 if Hellmuth falters. Brunson was one of the 257 players to enter Event #18, $5,000 World Championship Limit Hold 'Em, and despite arriving late, charged into seventh place by the end of Day One play. Thomas Wahlroos tops a compressed leader board with 58,100 chips. Among the names high on the board entering Day Two are Liz Lieu, Max Pescatori, Matt Hawrilenko, Team PokerNews Captain Tony G, Justin Bonomo, Barry Greenstein, William Thorsson and Eric Froehlich.
The traditional $1,000 Ladies No Limit Hold 'Em (#17) began on Sunday with defending champ Mary Jones trying for a repeat title. The 1,286 entrants set a record for the event, with Jones in tenth place at the end of the day's play. Team PokerStars member Katja Thater is even higher, in fifth, behind Julie Perla, Kathleen Gliua and Ritter Trauke, tightly bunched at the top. Two-time former winner Susie Isaacs remains alive in the event, with all 65 survivors now well inside the money bubble.
Elsewhere, Event #16, $2,500 H.O.R.S.E., moved down to the final 20 players before tournament directors called a halt to the proceedings. This one's sure to have another lengthy stretch of play today, as the players will battle all the way to the bracelet. Ali Eslami tops the leader board entering the final day's action, with 2007 bracelet winner Tom Schneider in tenth, looking to become the year's first WSOP double winner.
Events #19 ($2,500 No Limit Hold 'Em - be sure to follow along in our Event # 19 Blog) and #20 ($2,000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo) get underway today.