Day 38 of the 2011 World Series of Poker saw two final tables reached in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event and the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event. Also, the event we all have been waiting for is here. The 2011 WSOP Main Event kicked off on Thursday with a strong crowd. Also, poker's greatest living player returned to try and make another storybook run.
Event #56: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em
Day 3 of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event began with 42 players left who were looking for their shots at the final table. Gavin Smith started the day as the chip leader and was playing for his second career WSOP bracelet. Unfortunately, he failed to make the final table. He was knocked down to one of the short stacks with 12 players remaining and on a board of , Smith committed the last of his chips. Rayan Nathan made the call and showed pocket aces. Smith showed and needed a king or a five to keep his tournament hopes alive. The river brought the eliminating Smith.
Bryn Kenney ended up being the final-table bubble boy. He was all-in with pocket jacks and called by Andy Philachack with . Philachack spiked an ace on the turn to send Kenney out in 10th place. Philachack started the final table as the leader with a 2 million chip lead over his closest opponent, Hasan Anter.
As the final table progressed, Anter moved into the dominate chip lead and Philachack sunk to the short stack. This final table had to be called after 10 levels, and three players will be returning on Friday to play it out for the bracelet. Hasan Anter will return with a stack of 8.3 million, followed by Nemer Haddad with 3.4 million. Andy Philachack will start the final day with 3.23 million. Three-handed action for this final table will kick off at 1430 PDT (2130 GMT) on Friday.
Find out how Anter became the dominate chip leader in our live coverage blog.
Event #57: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split
Action in Day 3 of the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event began with 25 players returning in hopes of making the final table and taking down the last non-hold'em bracelet of the 2011 WSOP. Around the midpoint of the day, the final table was reached with Bryce Yockey leading with 1.14 million in chips. Nick Binger was right behind with 936,00 and David Bach was third with 862,000. Phil Laak and Allen Kessler also made the final table of this event.
The apocalypse watch was on in this event as Allen Kessler was deep, but a cooler just short of the final table left him as the severe short stack. As such, he was the first player eliminated. Much like the way he was crippled, he was well ahead when he got the last of his chips in with . Phil Laak showed . The flop fell to give Laak a pair and Kessler a sweat. The turn brought a to give Kessler a low draw. The river was unkind to Kessler as the fell to give Laak trip jacks and end the apocalypse watch.
Phil Laak earned his card in the Epic Poker League with his performance in this event and eventually finished in fourth place. He was all-in on a board of against David Bach and turned over for a pair and a gutshot straight draw. He was drawing dead, however, as Bach showed for a flopped boat.
After knocking Bryce Yockey out in third place, Nick Binger took the chip lead into heads-up play with David Bach. He led 3 million to 2.27 million. Bach is looking for his second career bracelet while Binger is looking to break through with his first. The two battled for nearly two levels, and by the time play was called for the night, the two were almost in the same spot they started in.
Nick Binger will come back on Friday with 3.23 million in chips and the chip lead to try and win his second bracelet. David Bach still has just over 2 million in chips and over 30 big blinds, meaning he still has plenty of room to battle. Action in this event resumes at 1600 PDT (2300 GMT) on Friday and promises to be an epic battle for the last preliminary bracelet of the series.
Read all the action at this final table in our live event blog.
Event #58: $10,000 Main Event
After weeks of anticipation, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship, aka the Main Event, kicked off on Thursday. A solid field of 897 players turned out for what is historically one of the lighter Day 1s for the Main Event. Doyle Brunson ended speculation on Wednesday as to his Main Event status and registered for the event. He also kicked things off with the "shuffle up and deal" call.
Brunson's day did not go as smoothly as planned. After a couple of levels, Brunson's chips had begun to dip and eventually he was down to under 5,000. He committed those chips with pocket fives and was called by Steve Costello with . A flop of gave Costello two pair and Dolly needed a five. The turn and river blanked for Brunson, who was eliminated. Players in attendance gave Doyle a round of applause and cheers as he exited the Amazon Room in what we hope is not his final WSOP Main Event appearance.
Of course, Doyle wasn't the only big-name player to go down in Day 1a action. Some of the other players who had an early exit in the Main Event included Jeffrey Papola, Ari Engel, Tom Schneider, Matt Affleck, Vinny Vinh, Vanessa Selbst, Josh Arieh, Evelyn Ng, Vinny Vinh's chair, Scott Montgomery, Faraz Jaka, and former WSOP Main Event champions Greg Raymer and Jerry Yang.
After five two-hour levels of play, 556 players remain. Fred Berger is the Day 1a chip leader with 209,000. Shane Sigsbee is right behind him with 182,600. Notable names making Day 2 play with at least twice their starting stack are Jason Alexander, Court Harrington, Barry Shulman, Filippo Candio, Archie Karas, Lex Veldhuis, Olivier Busquet, and Sebastian Ruthenberg.
Check out all the Day 1a action in our live reporting blog.
Day 1b of the 2011 WSOP Main Event will kick off at 1200 PDT (1900 GMT) as a new group of players start their march to toward poker immortality. Later, the last two preliminary bracelets of the 2011 WSOP will be awarded as the final three players battle it out in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event and heads-up play is completed in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event.
On Thursday, the PokerNews Podcast discussed Brian Rast's win in the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship and then turned their focus on the Main Event. The hosts, as well as other PokerNews members, drafted five players each for a last longer bet.
The PokerNews Podcast is the place to be during the Main Event. Listen to our archives here.
Video of the Day
Brian Rast won the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship Wednesday night. Sarah Grant caught up with him directly after he took down the bracelet and talked about his win, how much luck plays a factor in tournaments, and whether no-limit hold'em should be the only game at the final table.