On Day 22 of the 2016 World Series of Poker, WSOP veteran Andrey Zaichenko finally grabbed gold for the first time, while Benny Glaser proved he's no flash in the pan.
Just a few tables remain in three other events, with Jason Mercier finding a second bag in another mixed-game event.
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Nine Years Later, Zaichenko Gets His Bracelet
Andrey Zaichenko could be found at the Rio every summer for nine years playing a pile of events, and he's finally captured WSOP gold after winning Event #34: $1,500 2-7 Triple Draw for $117,947.
The bracelet looked to be in the bag for Zaichenko when he had a 13-1 lead heads up against Jameson Painter, but Painter made a massive comeback and actually took the lead at one point, leaving Zaichenko visibly frustrated.
“My opponent heads up was a very strong player,” the Russian said. “I'm so happy to win this bracelet against him, because this player was one of the top players. He played so aggressively and good calls of my bluffs.”
For Zaichenko, who beat a field of 358 for his long-awaited gold, the bracelet was the culmination of a poker journey that began with no-limit hold'em but changed course about three years ago. That's when Zaichenko and his Russian comrades began running dealer's choice and other limit cash games, slowly improving their skills.
Every year, Zaichenko would put his skills to the test at the WSOP, and though there were deep runs, he came up short. Still, he felt he was getting better each year, and he finally broke through after more than $1 million in WSOP cashes.
“The bracelet is a goal which I wanted to obtain,” he said. “Now, I'm happy... so many emotions.”
Final Table Results
|1||Andrey Zaichenko||Moscow, Russa||$117,947|
|2||Jameson Painter||Las Vegas, NV||$72,878|
|4||Alexsandr Vinskii||St. Petersburg, Russia||$31,099|
|5||Adam Spiegelberg||Las Vegas, NV||$21,139|
|6||Andrii Nadieliaiev||Dnipropetrovsk City, Ukraine||$14,769|
Benny Glaser Gets Second Bracelet of 2016, Third Overall
Just one day ago, Benny Glaser, sitting in the middle of the pack at the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Championship final table, said it would be a dream summer if he captured his second bracelet inside of a week. That's exactly what he did Wednesday afternoon, banking $407,194 just days after winning the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low for $244,103.
“It feels amazing right now,” he said. “I think it will take some time to set in for sure. It's just been a crazy week of grinding and focusing, so now I'll get some time to enjoy it.”
He went into an unscheduled Day 4 as the chip leader, with Doug "Skippy" Lorgeree just behind him and Matt Glantz bringing up the rear in third.
At that point, limits were massive, swings were swift, and everything was over in a matter of a couple of hours. Skippy grabbed the lead early but quickly ceded it back to Glaser, who scooped four pots in a short window to take hold of two-thirds of the total chips and rolled that advantage into the win.
“Going back to back just makes it feel even more crazy and amazing,” Glaser said. “I don't think it's sunk in yet.”
Final Table Results
|1||Benny Glaser||Southampton, U.K.||$407,194|
|2||Skippy Lorgeree||Buffalo Grove, IL||$251,665|
|3||Matt Glantz||Lafayette Hill, PA||$175,754|
|4||Grzegorz Trelski||Middletown, CT||$125,125|
|5||Robert Campbell||Warragul, Australia||$90,846|
|6||Per Hildebrand||Marsta, Sweden||$67,291|
|7||Todd Brunson||Las Vegas, NV||$50,872|
|8||Jason Mercier||Davie, FL||$39,269|
Mercier Nursing a Few Bets in Event #36
Throughout his amazing run during the 2016 WSOP, Jason Mercier has typically played the role of the big stack, amassing plenty of his chips as he goes all-out for first place in pursuit of victory for his many bracelet bets.
However, Day 2 of Event #36: $2,500 Mixed Omaha/Stud Hi-Low wrapped up with the five-time bracelet winner ranked 11th of 13 survivors and nursing a stack of 96,000. That will represent just a handful of bets when Day 3 begins with limits of 10,000/20,000.
Gleb Kovtunov (673,000), Timothy Burt (647,000), Omaha Hi-Low Championship final tabler Per Hildebrand (597,000), and accomplished Frenchman Fabrice Soulier (593,000) are the leaders.
Mercier, of course, has two bracelets already in the bag this summer and a narrow miss with a second-place finish. Should he collect one more bracelet, he would sweep up a pile of cash in side bets and be one away from a record number of four.
His fate will be determined starting at 2 p.m. Friday, with the tournament scheduled to see a winner.
Adrian Mateos Looking for More Hardware With Summer Solstice Lead
Adrian Mateos might be playing his first full WSOP schedule, but he already has quite the hardware collection with victories in WSOP Europe Main Event in 2013 and European Poker Tour Grand Final 2015, each worth north of $1.2 million.
The young Spaniard's first bracelet in Las Vegas may be on the horizon, as he leads the $1,500 Summer Solstice with just 17 players remaining heading to Day 4 after bagging 1,763,000.
There's quite a bit of competition to get through yet despite the small remaining field. Online legends Jon “PearlJammer” Turner (904,000) and Chris “Moorman1” Moorman (269,000) are still in contention, and Jason Wheeler (518,000), and Kathy Liebert (242,000) also bagged, the latter the shortest stack. Blinds will next move to Level 22 (8,000/16,000/2,000).
Roland Israelashvili, Lizzy Harrison, DJ Mackinnon, Zo Karim, James Akenhead, and Michael Rocco were some of the 77 players to fall during Day 3 play.
Seven more 90-minute levels are scheduled for Day 4, which starts at noon and is to be the penultimate day of the tournament. The extended levels mean it could be awhile before a final table is reached, but one should indeed emerge.
Nishijima, Koon Lead Stacked Six-Max Field
A couple of notable names are predictably at the top of the always-stacked $5,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em field after two days of play.
Thiago Nishijima has the chip lead with 1,222,000, while Jason Koon sits in second with 1,142,000. Nishijima claimed his first bracelet last year, winning $546,843 in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. Koon, despite just shy of $900,000 in cashes and five final tables, has yet to taste WSOP gold.
Manuel Saavedra Nunez (994,000), Artur Koren (808,000), and Benjamin Reinhart (796,000) round out the top five. Jake Schindler, Pratyush Buddiga, Martin Finger, and former WSOP Main Event runner-up Felix Stephensen are also among the 21 remaining runners with blinds set to move to Level 21 (6,000/12,000/2,000).
The money bubble burst with 82 of 197 Day 2 starters set to get paid. Stephen Chidwick, Chino Rheem, Joe Hachem, Pierre Neuville, and Fabian Quoss were just a few of the many big names cashing.
Ten more levels are scheduled for Day 3, and the field should be whittled down quite far by that point, with the $560,843 first-place prize clearly in sight.
Johns Threatening Three?
While Jason Mercier's run for three bracelets will dominate the Friday buzz at the Rio, another player is squarely in contention for his third of the summer. Ian Johns, who has already won $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. for $212,604 and $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship for $290,635, bagged 109,000, good for third place after Day 1 of Event #38: $3,000 Six-Max Limit Hold'em.
Limit hold'em is Johns' specialty, and he said after his first bracelet win that he always plays a very limited schedule, so this might be one of his final chances of the summer to grab bracelet No. 3.
Fellow 2016 bracelet winner Rep Porter (131,900) sits in second, while Australian Warwick Mirzikinian (136,400) has the chip lead. Others among the 64 survivors – a total of 245 fired in the event – included WSOP Main Event champs Joe McKeehen and Jonathan Duhamel, as well as Jesse Martin, Chris Vitch, Jason Somerville, and Chris Klodnicki.
The tournament will pay out 37 spots, with the first couple of dozen of those likely to be determined Friday, some time after the 2 p.m. restart.
Daniel Negreanu Among Early Leaders in PLO
The early event for Wednesday was Event #37: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha, and 776 runners turned out with 128 remaining.
Dieyar Kakel, a player with nary a WSOP cash to his name, sits atop the counts with 151,800, followed closely by Joe Serock with 150,800. A player with one of the most lucrative histories at the WSOP, the legendary Daniel Negreanu, bagged the 12th-biggest stack with 98,000.
Ryan Franklin, Tyler Patterson, David Paredes, Dan Sindelar, Matt Stout, and Athanasios Polychronopoulos were some of the other players making it through.
Just 11 of the remaining players will fail to see payouts, so the money bubble should burst almost immediately upon the start of Day 2 play, which begins at noon Thursday.
What's On Tap?
Plenty of heroes are sure to turn out for the 11 a.m. event, $10,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em Championship. At 3 p.m., a brand new event gets underway: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball. That event features a mix of Badugi, 2-7 triple draw, and ace-to-five triple draw, a rotation never before seen at the WSOP.