A diverse schedule of poker offerings on Monday saw a relatively unknown player win a big-field bracelet, two more events work their way down to final tables with several stars in the mix, and an attendance record smashed as one of the WSOP's traditional offerings got underway.
Monday's bracelet came in Event #39, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, the final leg of a three-day marathon that saw 2,720 runners take part. The final nine were led by Thom Werthmann, the only one of the nine players to have previously won a bracelet, but instead the title here went to David Woo. Woo's surge to victory came only after a 40-hand showdown against Matt Wood, the final two survivors of a competitive final table that saw early leader Werthmann exit in fifth. Wood's runner-up showing brought him a $389,844 payday, while the winner's share for Woo was a healthy $631,656.
Event #40, $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw, featured an entertaining run by seven-time Billy Baxter. Baxter, perhaps the world's foremost lowball player, began the day as the very shortest stack among the 30 Day 2 survivors, but managed to parlay his meager starting chips all the way to the lead before bubbling the final-table to end the day's play. Former WSOP Main Event champion Greg Raymer departed earlier (though well inside the money spots), while night's end found John "The Razor" Phan and Gioi Luong virtually tied for the top spot. The six finalists return early on Tuesday to finish.
Also heading for a Tuesday conclusion is Event #41, $1,500 Mixed Hold'em, which features alternating segments of fixed-limit and no-limit play. The big names reaching this final are leader Mats Gavatin, a Swedish pro with a couple of big European wins, and Nick Binger (brother of Michael), who sits overnight in second.
Monday also brought the start of a WSOP tradition, the $1,000 Seniors No-Limit World Championship. The tourney (Event #42 on the schedule) is open only to players 50 and older, yet a record field of 2,218 – over 300 more than a year ago – turned out. The field was trimmed all the way down to 220 by night's end, just outside the 198-player money bubble, which will require a long day's play on Tuesday as they attempt to play down to the nine-player final. Duane Gerleman had a big opening day and brings a healthy lead to Day 2 action, with Steve Fager in second and Tom Franklin and Men Nguyen also in the top ten.
Tuesday is another single-event day at the Rio. Getting underway at noon will be Event #43, $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better. This event drew nearly 700 entrants a year ago and a similar field is expected this time around. Many players, of course, are peeking ahead to Wednesday, when the $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. event begins.