Las Vegas, NV
The first week of the WSOP is in the record books, and there are a little more than six weeks to go. I'll be writing a weekly statistical rundown of the action to keep you up to date, along with highlighting a few of the biggest stories along the way so they don't slip through the cracks.
TOP STORYLINES OF THE FIRST WEEK
1. Grinder Wins the $50,000 Poker Players Championship
Everyone who follows Pauly's blog probably knows by now that the Mizrachi family had some very public financial problems publicized in the media recently. And while Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi has won millions and millions ($4.2 million) on the World Poker Tour, he has somewhat underperformed in the WSOP, with a spot on the best-players-without-a-bracelet list.
Well, you can scratch his name off that list -- with authority. This is no fluke bracelet that he won, it's considered to be one of the most difficult and prestigious tournaments in the world. Michael Mizrachi's name will be permanently engraved on the David "Chip" Reese Trophy.
Mizrachi had a backer (and a surprising one at that), so he won't get the full winnings, but his cut should be enough to cover his recent financial issues.
P.S. -- Michael Mizrachi is the chipleader with 88 players remaining in Event #10 ($10,000 Seven Card Stud).
P.P.S. -- The player with the second-most chips in that event? Vladimir Schmelev, the Russian Banker who finished runner-up to Mizrachi in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.
2. Phil Hellmuth Goes For Bracelet #12
This story is way too early to call, but even the potential of it is big enough to make it the second-biggest story of the WSOP.
With 25 players remaining in Event #8 ($1,500 No-Limit Hold'em), Phil Hellmuth is fifth in chips. There is still a long way to go before the final table, but Hellmuth pursuing his record 12th bracelet will draw eyes on the WSOP today -- until he busts.
If/when Hellmuth busts very deep in a bracelet event, will he handle it like a gentleman, will he throw a Hellmuth-ian tantrum, or will he quietly curl up in a ball like he did at the WPT Final Table a few months ago? As many people are watching for that reason as are watching hoping he makes history.
3. The Almost-Disaster of Day 1b
In the first $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event, there was a massive carnage on Day 1a, and after 10 levels, there was only 10.6% of the field left. That's bad, because the next day they would learn that 10.1% of the field was going to finish in the money.
As Day 1b played, there was the possibility they could burst the money bubble before the end of the day, which would have cheated those unknown players who busted late on Day 1a. That's the kind of problem that gets the Nevada Gaming Commission involved.
In the end, nothing happened, because more than 11% of the field survived on Day 1b, averting a disaster for Harrah's. A new policy is reportedly in place for future events with multiple starting days where they will stop play on Day 1a if the field hits 15%, and then the following days will play the exact same amount of time before combining on Day 2.
QUICK RECAP OF COMPLETED EVENTS
Event #1, $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em
721 players (last year: 866)
Winner: Hoai Pham, $71,424
Event #2, $50,000 Poker Players Championship (8-Game Mix)
116 players (last year: 95)
Winner: Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, $1,559,046
Event #3, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em
4,345 players (last year: 6,012)
Winner: Aadam Daya, $625,872
Event #4, $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo
818 players (last year: 918)
Winner: Michael Chow, $237,140
Event #5, $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em
2,092 players (last year: 2,791)
Winner: Praz Bansi, $515,501
Event #6, $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout
358 players (last year: 280)
Winner: Joshua Tieman, $441,692
Event #7, $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw
291 players (last year: 257)
Winner: Peter Gelencser, $180,730
WINNERS BY NATIONALITY
United States: 4
WSOP PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Player of the Year race is currently a six-way tie for first between all the bracelet winners (Event #1 doesn't count because it isn't an open event), followed by a six-way tie for second between all the runner-ups. This race won't really take shape for at least another week or two, but I'll keep tracking it.
There are 34 players tied with two cashes each through the first six events. Joe "Big Egypt" Elpayaa is the only player to have two cashes that include a final table -- 4th in Event #6 ($5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout) and 91st in Event #3 ($1,000 No-Limit Hold'em).
THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN?
No women have made any final tables yet. The highest finish by a woman so far is 14th place, which was reached by Ashira Lavine in Event #3 ($1,000 No-Limit Hold'em). Heather Sue Mercer effectively tied for 7th in Event #6 ($5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout), but the shootout format makes ranking non-final tablists a bit misleading.
There are no women among the final 25 players in Event #8, so the earliest a woman could final table (or win a bracelet) is Event #9.
MULTIPLE FINAL TABLES
No players have made multiple final tables yet. As mentioned earlier, Joe Elpayaa is the only player with one final table that has a second money finish.
JUSTIN BONOMO'S PANORAMA BET
Justin Bonomo is laying 10-to-1 odds (he'll put up $10,000 to your $1,000) that someone who lives in Panorama Towers will win a bracelet this year. That list of players was frozen before the WSOP began (to be fair), and it includes 66 players, plus another 2 who will qualify starting June 18th. To see all the names, check out Justin Bonomo's post in the 2+2 thread by clicking here.
Bonomo had a similar bet in 2009 (offering 7-to-1 odds), and the only Panorama resident to win a bracelet was Greg "FBT" Mueller (who won two). Here are the Panorama players who have reached a final table so far in 2010:
David Baker: 6th place, $272,275With 12% of the events completed, these results don't seem that impressive. But you have to figure that none of these people played in the Casino Employees event, very few played in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, and the odds of any of them winning a huge-field donkament ($1K or $1,500 NLHE) is extremely slim. The middle of the WSOP schedule is where this group will shine, and I expect them to quickly amass more final table appearances, and before long, a bracelet.
Event #2 ($50,000 Poker Players Championship)
David Sands: 8th place, $67,221
Event #5 ($1,500 No-Limit Hold'em)
There's your recap for the first week of the 2010 WSOP. Thanks to Pauly for giving me an outlet for my creative non-photographic juices (sounds disgusting). I'm working for Greasie Wheels this WSOP, which is providing the official WSOP photography for Harrah's. Check out my official WSOP Photo Blog on WSOP.com. The current first photo is Grinder and his wife, but new photos will be uploaded today.