Day 2 of the 2015 World Series of Poker saw the action ramp up considerably from the usual quiet Day 1 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. One event ended, one highly-anticipated event lived up to the hype, and two more tournaments kicked off on Thursday.
When it comes to the WSOP, the money is undoubtedly nice and the primary motivator for some. However, money can be won, lost, and spent, never to be seen again. The feeling of being a champion can never be taken away, a feeling the first gold bracelet winner of 2015 knows very well.
Barnette Takes First Gold
It didn't come easily, but Brandon Barnette overcame some brutal beats to claim victory in Event #1: $565 Casino Employees' No-Limit Hold'em, topping a field of 688.
Already holding a big chip lead with three players left, Barnette got the all in preflop against the of Greg Seiden and looked poised to take a dominating stack into heads-up play. Instead, Barnette was left in anguish as an run out gave Seiden a straight on the river. Three-handed play continued, and the next level saw Barnette again find a dominating spot, getting the all in on a flop containing three diamonds against Seiden's . The board paired on the turn.
"I had a sinking feeling in my gut," Barnette said.
It proved prescient as the arrived on the river, another devastating beat. Nonetheless, the California-based dual-rate supervisor (he spends half of his time dealing and half as the floor manager) clawed back and claimed the win, worth $75,704 and a gold bracelet in his first WSOP event. He did so under the watchful eyes of about 10 co-workers, who ensured Barnette won't be taking an immediate vacation to enjoy his winnings.
"I was supposed to play the Colossus also, but because of all these people being here, I couldn't get the time off work," he said. "My boss was actually the first one to call me, he gave me tomorrow off."
He added that the winnings would come in handy for supporting his four-month old baby, but being a champion is an old hat for Barnette, who spend four years on the USA national roller hockey team. There, he said he won three world championships and a world games gold medal.
Now, he has more gold to add to the collection.
Merson Among 20 Alive in Event #2
One thing you can usually count on at the WSOP is a $5,000 event to be chock full of big names, and Event #2: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em is no exception. David "Doc" Sands (704,000), Jason Wheeler (683,000), Bryn Kenney (596,000), Byron Kaverman (372,000), and Joe Ebanks (301,000) are just some of the recognizable names still among the 20 remaining runners. Carl Westcott leads the way with 1.062 million.
The most captivating story, though, is former WSOP Main Event champ Greg Merson making a run at another bracelet. He's firmly in contention with 800,000, good for third in chips as blinds are set to begin at 6,000/12,000/2,000 at the Day 3 restart on Friday at 2 p.m.
With 422 total entries, 45 players got paid for their efforts, and Dan Sindelar (42nd - $9,381), Felix Stephensen (37th - $9,381), Tony Gregg (31st - $11,523). Brian Hastings (29th - $11,523), Jeremy Ausmus (27th - $14,280), and Jesse Martin (21st - $14,280) were among those eliminated in the money.
Expect plenty of fanfare on Day 3 if Merson can keep pushing toward the win.
Two-Time Winner Ma Leads Event #3
The first split-pot tournament of the series, Event #3: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low, kicked off at noon on Thursday and saw a field of 918 whittled down to 373. Tony Ma, who counts two bracelet wins among more than $4.5 million in career tournament cashes, bagged the top stack with 57,800. Taylor Paur (56,000), Eric Crain (55,600), Steve Gross (49,800), Calvin Anderson (38,300), John Monnette (36,800), and Allen Cunningham (30,100) also tote heavy stacks into Day 2.
Notables that busted included Phil Hellmuth, Mike Leah, David "ODB" Baker, Joe Serock, Calen McNeil, and Greg Raymer. McNeil's elimination ended a bid for three straight final tables in this event after he took it down in 2013 and took fourth last year.
The event resumes at 2 p.m. on Friday.
One Round Down, Two to Go in Event #4
The popular and fun shootout format took center stage in Event #4: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout. Under the shootout rules, players draw seats into single-table sit-n-gos, which play down a winner who advances to the next sit-n-go. The tournament drew 308 players who populated 40 tables, and the first round was completed on Thursday, advancing winning players to the money.
Nosebleed cash-game star Doug Polk advanced along with Loni Harwood, actor James Woods, David Peters, Jake Balsiger, Carlos Mortensen, Sam Greenwood, Jason Somerville, and Joe Cada. They've all guaranteed themselves payouts of $6,180.
Justin Bonomo, Tom Marchese, Phil Laak, Ryan Riess, Jonathan Duhamel, and David Benefield were just some of the star players to find themselves eliminated on Day 1.
Action should be fast and furious on Day 2 as each table plays out four-handed, with the winners of each table advancing to the final table of 10 and in contention for $201,812.