The 2015 World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino rolled on with another packed day on Thursday. Two bracelet events finished up, three continued, and another $10,000 tournament got going.
It took a mere 24 hands before the first piece of gold was captured, the second one for a long-time competitor.
Lehr Beats Volpe To Capture $10K Heads-Up Championship
Keith Lehr won his second WSOP bracelet taking down one of the premier events of the summer Thursday: the $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em Championship.
Lehr collected $334,430 in first-place prize money after defeating Paul Volpe in a relatively quick final match that lasted just 24 hands. Lehr took control of the match in the 16th hand, three-betting with the after Volpe opened the button with the . Volpe called, and Lehr continued after flopping top pair of jacks. Volpe floated with a gutshot and bet a brick on the turn after Lehr checked. Lehr called, and check-called another 1.2 million-chip bet when the river also bricked to take down the sizable pot.
In the final hand, Lehr turned top pair against Volpe's flopped two-pair and all the money went in before Lehr made a second pair on the river, sending Volpe to the cage to collect $206,620 in second-place money. Lehr won his first gold bracelet in the 2003 WSOP $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em tournament defeating Chris "Jesus" Ferguson heads up. This time around he beat Jake Schindler, Valeriu Coca, and Dee Tiller to advance to the final match.
Coca made the news in ways beyond his fifth-place finish in the event, as several top pros suspect the Moldovian player of cheating. Coca denies all allegations, though.
Kakon Wins Event #11 for First Bracelet
You don't have to worry about William Kakon much if you find him at your table early in a tournament, but be on guard if you happen to be facing him later on.
Kakon has taken down five of the 14 final tables he's reached in a live tournament career that's seen him that's seen him amass more than $833,000 in tournament winnings. His most recent and relevant score is the $196,055 he just banked for topping a field of 660 in Event #11: $1,500 Limit Hold'em. He said his excellent final table record is tied to a busy work schedule in the real estate industry that keeps him mostly away from tournament poker.
"I don't really play many tournaments because I don't have time," he said. "Very often, I register for a tournament and I'm like, 'I don't have time for this,' so I just throw my chips. Whenever I get deep, I'm really trying to win it. When I get close to the money, I really focus, and my game is totally different."
A final table that included Shannon Shorr (fifth), Kevin Song (sixth), Brandon Cantu (seventh), and Alexander Kostritsyn (ninth) is no cakewalk for anyone, much less a recreational player like Kakon, who hasn't been a limit regular for some time.
"I'm very familiar with the game," the Morocco-born, Paris-raised, Miami resident said. "I used to play cash a little, but but I stopped five or six years ago because the games are hard to find."
When Kakon's topped second-place Daniel Needleman's by flopping a jack on the final hand of the tournament, an elated Kakon jumped into the arms of a friend on the rail in celebration.
"When things are going your way, it just works out," he said with a wide grin.
100 Advance to Day 2 of the $1,500 Shootout
The 2015 WSOP Event #14: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout kicked off around 12 p.m. local time Thursday with 1,000 entries creating 100 10-handed tables, the winners of which would advance to Day 2 Friday guaranteed a min-cash of $5,413.
Play wrapped up just after 1 a.m. Friday morning with the full 100 players advancing, looking to win a second table when play resumes at 1 p.m. Friday and book a spot at the final table. Up top sits a $283,546 first-place prize and a coveted WSOP bracelet.
Among those advancing were three-time WSOP bracelet winner Dominik Nitsche, 2008 WSOP November Niner Dennis Phillips, European Poker Tour Season 8 Grand Final champ Mohsin Charania, and 2014 PokerStars WCOOP Main Event winner Fedor "CrownUpGuy" Holz.
Billirakis Leads Final 25 in the $1,500 Six-Max
Two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Steve Billirakis grabbed the overnight chip lead in the 2015 WSOP's Event #12: $1,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em.
The event's second day began with 206 players left in the hunt for a $457,007 first-place prize and WSOP bracelet. The 180-player money bubble burst part way through the day and by the time it was all said and done just 25 remained.
As Billirakis built a 1.015 million-chip stack, the only player to crest the one-million chip mark, WSOP bracelet winners Brent Hanks, Eric Baldwin, Eugene Katchalov, Steve Sung, Scott Seiver, Antonio Esfandiari, Bryn Kenney, and David Benyamimine all hit the rail in the money.
Those bagging contending stacks included WSOP bracelets winner Craig McCorkell, Scott Montgomery, and 2012 WSOP Europe €50,000 Super High Roller champ Mike Watson.
Day 3 will begin at 1 p.m. local time Friday with plans to play down to a winner.
Money Reached in Event #13
Players who love split-pot games have surely had Event #13: $2,500 Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low circled on their calendars since the WSOP schedule dropped, and after a long grind that had some players questioning the structural changes, the money bubble burst late in Day 2. Eng Tang was the unfortunate player who exited in 49th place during the penultimate level of the night.
The 40 remaining runners will return for Day 3, scheduled to be the final day of the tournament, at 2 p.m. on Friday. They'll be playing for $269,612 up top. Brandon Paster will start with the most ammo, coming back with 385,000 as limits are set to move to 8,000/16,000. Eric Wasserson (233,000), Aditya Prasetyo (184,000), Barry Shulman (181,000), Eric Buchman (125,000), Scotty Nguyen (121,000), Brian Rast (78,000), and John Racener (65,000) were among those showcasing their scooping and quartering prowess.
Ben Yu and Tom Koral collected min-cash tickets on the way, while Todd Brunson, Scott Clements, Mike Gorodinsky, and Naoya Kihara found themselves exiting empty-handed.
Arieh Leads as Small $10K Pot-Limit Hold'em Field Cut in Half
As detailed in a PokerNews piece published just days ago, the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event has seen a steep decline in numbers since debuting in 2008. This year, just 128 runners took their shots, the lowest number yet and considerably behind last year's 160.
After 10 levels of play, 64 players bagged up. Josh Arieh emerged with the best chip count, running his 30,000 starting stack up to 168,900. Arieh, who has more than $4 million in tournament cashes, is seeking his third bracelet.
Shaun Deeb (154,200), Davidi Kitai (122,400), Jason Koon (99,600), Connor Drinan (99,400), Scott Seiver (71,500), David Peters (69,600), George Danzer (69,600), Antonio Esfandiari (47,500), Daniel Negreanu (40,000), and defending champ Alex Bilokur (27,000) were some of the names making it through.
Deeb got his big stack rolling early on when he eliminated Bart Hanson on the right side of an aces-versus-kings confrontation just moments after Hanson took his seat. Doug Polk, newly crowned heads-up champion Keith Lehr, Eugene Katchalov, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, and Joe Kuether joined Hanson on the rail during the course of play.
Things resume at 2 p.m. on Friday for another 10-level day.
*Image courtesy of the WSOP.