Only one gold champion's bracelet was awarded Wednesday in action at the 2008 World Series of Poker, but it went to the winner of the most potent final table to date in this year's series. The tourney was Event #18, $5,000, No-Limit Draw 2-7 w/ Rebuys.
The event drew only 85 entrants, but those 85 represented the very best of the poker world, and the lineup of the final seven illustrated that point. Seated at this final were Erick Lindgren (who held a large chip lead early but was unsuccessful in winning his second bracelet of this series), Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, Jeffrey Lisandro, David Benyamine, Tony G and 2007 WSOP POY Tom Schneider. In the end Matusow pulled off a strong comeback during heads-up play to emerge with the win, collecting $537,862 in an event that, due to scheduling quirks, wasn't taped for broadcast later this summer. The runner-up spot went to Lisandro, who pocketed $347,004.
Another pair of events played down to final tables which will be held later today. Vanessa Selbst dominated Day 1 play in Event #19, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, and did the same on the event's Day 2, bouncing player after player and finishing the day with almost half the chips in play going into today's final. The closest players to Selbst – with roughly 30% of her chips – are Jamie Pickering and Stanley Statkiewicz, Jr., but it will take a major surge by any of the other eight to prevent Selbst from a wire-to-wire win.
Event #20, $2,000 Limit Hold'em, saw one of poker's biggest names in the mix as it settled on its final name. That big name was Daniel Negreanu's; "Kid Poker" was near elimination twice late but came back to build the third biggest stack entering today's final. He trails David Baker and Ugur Marangoz as he seeks his fourth gold bracelet.
Another pair of events kicked off on the WSOP's second-week hump day. In Event #21, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em, a field heavy on top pros and Internet hotshots played down from 731 to 121 players, still a good deal of work from the money bubble. They'll crack that early on their way to setting a final nine today. Alex Melnikow was the overnight leader, with veteran Hasan Habib among those in the first day's top ten.
Event #22, $3,000 H.O.R.S.E, had the 5pm start slot and drew another star-heavy 414-player field. 133 of those survived through to the end of day, with the money bubble and final nine to be determined in today's action as the increasing blinds come into play. Leading the way here is Alexander Jung, and the top of the board is peppered with stars. Shannon Elizabeth held third overnight, James "mig.com" Mackey was forth, Todd Brunson fifth, Marc Goodwin sixth, and Kevin Saul seventh. This one resumes at 3pm PDT today.
The big audience for today's action will certainly be attentive to the final in Event #18, $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw w/ Rebuys, which boasts an outstanding seven-player final. Top spot (and a sizable lead) is held here by Erick Lindgren, the star whose impressive poker resume finally saw its first WSOP bracelet added; he now has the inside track on collecting his second within a span of days. Still, despite his early run at this year's WSOP, it'll be no easy task, as the other six finalists are Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, Jeffrey Lisandro, David Benyamine, Tony G and Tom Schneider. This one gets underway as this story goes live on the Internet.
Another two events begin today. A packed house is on hand for the start of Event #23, $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em, getting underway as this summary goes live, while at 5pm today Event #24, the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha/Hold'em mixed-format event begins.