Day 37 of the 2011 World Series of Poker began with a bracelet awarded in Event #54, the final $1,000 no-limit hold'em event of the Series. Then, the most anticipated final table short of the November Nine kicked off in the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship, and eventually a new all-around poker champion was crowned. Also, the money bubble was burst in both the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event and the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event.
Event #54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em
The Event #54 final table kicked off with Team PokerStars Pro Russia's Maxim Lykov holding a sizable lead over the rest of the final table. He started the day with 3.87 million; Dror Michaelo was his closest opponent with 1.98 million.
Lykov dominated the final table from the start. As opponents fell, Lykov's stack increased. The only time he really fell into any trouble was when Michaelo doubled-up through him with three players left. Michaelo was all-in for around 2 million preflop with and Lykov called with . The flop fell to give Michaelo the lead and eventually the double-up. He trailed 4.25 million to Lykov's 5.3 million, and that was about as close as anyone got to topping Lykov.
After knocking out Warren Wooldridge in third place, Lykov pulled in front 9 million to 4.65 million for heads-up play. Lykov had cut Michaelo's stack in half before the start of the final hand. Michaelo made it 250,000 to go and Lykov raised to 700,000. Michaelo then shoved and was called. Michaelo showed and found himself crushed by . A flop of gave Lykov the lead, but Michaelo still had a chance to win with running clubs, but the turn brought the and Michaelo was drawing dead.
Max Lykov is the third Russian player this summer to win a bracelet. For his stellar wire-to-wire performance, he received his first WSOP bracelet and $648,880.
For all the action at this final table, read our live reporting pages.
Event #55: $50,000 Poker Player's Championship
The final day of the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship started with nine players all looking to make the final table and eventually take down the bracelet and $1.7 million top prize. Jason Lester was the final-table bubble boy when he was knocked out by Minh Ly in ninth place. Lester was all-in on a flop of holding . He was ahead of Ly's , but the turn spiked the to give Ly two pair and the lead. Lester had a chaance to win if a king or jack fell, and the river bricked with the to set the final table.
The final table of this event was played entirely in a no-limit hold'em format, and while Minh Ly started the final table as the chip leader, Phil Hellmuth lurked fifth in chips with only an average stack. Ben Lamb, Brian Rast and Owais Ahmed all made the final table and were each looking to win a second bracelet of the year.
Hellmuth quickly took the lead after doubling up through Brian Rast. On a flop of , Rast led out for 2 million and Hellmuth just about couldn't get his 2.03 million stack in fast enough. He held pocket jacks and had flopped a set, but still had to sweat it out because Rast held for bottom pair and flush draw. The turn and river brought running sevens to give both a full house, but Hellmuth's was superior and he doubled-up to 4.75 million and the chip lead.
Ben Lamb was the first out at the final table when he ran into the of Scott Seiver. His early exit permitted Hellmuth, Rast, and Owais to gain ground in the player-of-the-year points race. Rast started to gain momentum with four players left. After a huge double-up, he took over the chip lead with almost 2 million more than Hellmuth, who then closed the gap after knocking out Owais Ahmed in fourth place.
With four players left, Minh Ly started slipping and quickly became the short stack. When he was down to 2 million, he moved all-in over the top of Hellmuth's preflop raise. Hellmuth made the call tabling , and Ly showed . The flop of kept Hellmuth ahead, but the turn gave Ly some extra outs. The fell on the river to eliminate Ly and give Hellmuth the chip lead going into heads-up play.
Hellmuth led Rast at the beginning of heads-up action 10 million to 9.18 million. For a good part of heads-up play, everyone was reminded of why Hellmuth is still considered by many to be the best no-limit hold'em tournament player in the world. He extended his chip lead to as much as 16.3 million to 2.9 million before Rast pulled off an incredible comeback. He doubled-up twice through Hellmuth to pull the match all-square. Then he took a sizable lead after floating a pair of fours on the flop and hitting a runner-runner flush on the river.
Both players were almost identical in chips, but Rast had the slight lead. The biggest pot of the tournament ended the night. After Hellmuth raised to 400,000 from the button, Rast made the call to see a flop of . Rast bet 500,000 and Hellmuth shoved. Rast then told Hellmuth that he had the nuts, made the call, and showed the nuts when he turned over for a flopped straight. Hellmuth showed for a flush draw and a sucker straight draw. The turn brought the and river the and after holding over a 4:1 lead heads-up, Hellmuth was stunningly knocked out in second place. The good news was that he received his first-ever seven-figure score. Hellmuth took home $1.06 million for his third runner-up finish of the 2011 WSOP.
Brian Rast has become the only player to have won two bracelets at the 2011 WSOP. He won the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em bracelet earlier in the Series and now has won the most coveted prize in all of poker short of the Main Event. Rast won the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship and $1.7 million in prize money.
Read all about this championship final table in our live reporting blog.
Event #56: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em
Day 2 of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event started with 463 players who looked to burst the money bubble and make their way to the final table. Justin Schwartz finished as the bubble boy in this event. In his final hand of the tournament, the board read when Jeff Ostrom bet 15,000. Schwartz made the call and then the river brought the . Action was checked to Ostrom, who shoved for 50,000. Schwartz tanked and called all-in for less. Ostrom turned over for kings-up — and the remaining 342 players all made the money.
Some of the players finishing in the money on Day 2 included Lisa Hamilton, Eric Haber, David Pham, Tom McEvoy, Kenny Nguyen, Brett Jungblut, Ken Aldridge, Brock Parker, Andrew Lichtenberger and Jordan Smith.
After 10 levels of play, 42 players remain. Gavin Smith ended the day as chip leader with 864,000, followed by James Boyle with 850,000. The remaining players will return on Thursday when they are scheduled to play to the final table and bracelet. Action kicks off at 1430 PDT (2130 GMT).
For more Day 2 action, check out our live coverage blog.
Event #57: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split
Action resumed on Day 2 of the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split Event with 173 players returning to battle past the money bubble and hopefully make a run at the final table.
Brandon Paster was the unfortunate bubble boy in the event. He was all-in from the big blind with around 22,000 when Lee Watkinson made the call. Paster showed [AhAdQd10] and Watkinson . The flop fell to give Watkinson a set, but Paster had a straight draw. The turn brought the and Paster added the nut-flush draw to his outs. The fell on the river to fill up Watkinson and send Paster out in 37th.
Dr. Max Stern was one of the first players to go out in the money as Day 2 came to a close. Erik Seidel was looking for his ninth bracelet in this one but fell in 33rd place as the end of the 10th level approached. When the chips were bagged and tagged, Nick Schulman finished the day with 772,000 and the chip lead. The apocalypse watch is now in effect as Allen Kessler finished Day 2 second in chips with 568,000.
Twenty-five players remain in the field, including Phil Laak, David Bach, Kirill Rabstov, Nick Binger, David Sands and Lee Watkinson. Players will return on Thursday and play to the final table and, hopefully, the bracelet, as well.
Check out all the Day 2 action in our live event blog.
The day is finally upon us. At noon, Day 1a of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event will kick off and a massive crowd is expected to take the felt at the Rio. Jack Effel tweeted that he expects "several thousand" players to attend. Also, the last two preliminary bracelets will be awarded on Thursday in both the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event and the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event.
For six weeks, the PokerNews Podcast has been the place to be for all things WSOP. In addition to covering all the relevant news and action during the series, we have had a fantastic lineup of guests ranging from bracelet winners to industry experts. On Thursday, Matt Glantz joined the podcast to discuss his run in the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship.
The PokerNews Podcast is the place to be during the Main Event. Listen to our archives here.
Video of the Day
Brian Rast was one of three players at the final table of the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship going after a second bracelet of the 2011 WSOP. Kristy Arnett caught up with him before the start of the final table to talk about his experience in mixed games, his decision to stop play at nine players, and his edge over other players at the final table.