$50,000 Poker Players Championship Underway, Laak Busts PLO Final Table

Defending champion Matt Ashton hopes to put together a similar run to his 2013 performance in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. (Drew Amato photo)

Defending champion Matt Ashton hopes to put together a similar run to his 2013 performance in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. (Drew Amato photo)

There was a buzz in the air this afternoon at the 2014 World Series of Poker, and it’s not just because of the United States’ World Cup match against Brazil. The Poker Players Championship, one of the premier tournaments in all of poker, is now underway. Anyone with $50,000 and a dream can test their mettle with the best players in the world in eight different poker variations, with the longest levels of any tournament this summer outside of the Main Event.

Several likely candidates for late registration in the Poker Players Championship might make their way into the field with some extra hardware, as both the $5,000 Six Max Pot Limit Omaha and the $1,500 Limit Hold’em final tables have some talented and dynamic mixed game pros. A $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event and a $1,000 No Limit event each have big fields and lots of money on the line too, making for another exciting day of poker here at the Rio.

$50,000 Poker Players Championship

One of the ‘big three’ events of the WSOP and the biggest mixed game event in the world got underway at 4 pm PST, and the Poker Players Championship is sure to produce some of the most exciting action all summer.

Defending champion Matt Ashton is in the field already, hoping for a repeat performance from his career-defining 2013 run. Ashton outlasted a field of 132 players and took home $1,774,089 for his troubles, nearly wrapping up WSOP Player of the Year honors in the process until Daniel Negreanu snatched it away in the race’s final moments. Negreanu got into the tournament early too, as did previous champions David Bach and Brian Rast. 2014 bracelet winners George Danzer, Vanessa Selbst, Rob Mizrachi and Paul Volpe are all in the mix as well.

Ashton was in his seat from the very start of this tournament, but from his perspective it’s not as essential in this tournament as it would be in most others.

“I always like to get in there early,” said Ashton, “You can get some more reads on players and that sort of thing, but in this field the edges are small. If you register late, I don’t think you’re losing that much – and registration is really late this year.

With an unbelievable summer before he even entered the $50,000 Poker Players Championship in 2013, Ashton had all the momentum in the world behind him when he won. This time he’s fresh off a trip to Brazil for the early rounds of the World Cup.

“Well it definitely gives you that extra confidence, when you’ve had a few good results,” said Ashton. “But I’m still feeling good, not feeling too different. I approach every tournament the same way.”

The field and prizepool won’t be known until Monday afternoon, with registration stretching several levels into Day 2’s action. Here are the fields they’ll be hoping to match once they do eventually close registration.

  • 2006 – 143 players
  • 2007 – 148 players
  • 2008 – 148 players
  • 2009 – 95 players
  • 2010 – 116 players
  • 2011 – 128 players
  • 2012 – 108 players
  • 2013 – 132 players

The one big change to this event is the number of seats at the table, which has been reduced from eight to seven. The most significant result of that change is that only one player will have to sit out for the Deuce to Seven Triple Draw round if the table is full. As of 6:45 pm PST, the clock reads 68 players entered so far.

$5,000 Six Max Pot Limit Omaha

Just six players remain in the hunt for the bracelet in the $5,000 Six Max Pot Limit Omaha after three levels of play. The 13 who returned were whittled down to a final table in short order, with the likes of David ‘Bakes’ Baker, Sorel Mizzi and Richard Ashby falling by the wayside in early action.

Phil Laak was looking for his second career WSOP bracelet, but he went from chipleader to out in sixth in a matter of hours after doubling up Darius Studdard. After losing a few other pots, he eventually ended up as the first player to go out at the final table. Kory Kilpatrick hopes to be the second player to take down multiple bracelets in 2014 with a win in this event too. They haven’t lost a player since the final table was set, but they’re shooting to get a winner by the end of the night.

  1. Darius Studdard – 1,790,000
  2. Michael Drummond – 1,485,000
  3. Brant Hale – 1,620,000
  4. Kory Kilpatrick – 935,000
  5. Ryan Schmidt – 795,000

$1,500 Limit Hold’em

Sometimes things go exactly according to plan at the WSOP, and the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event is a perfect example. They played down to a final table at the end of the night on Day 2 and those nine players returned with a bracelet in their sights. Jeff Lisandro went out in seventh place and immediately walked over to play the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

David Chiu fell short of his sixth career WSOP bracelet in going out sixth, but the final five features a couple of other players who are still trying to add more gold to their bracelet collections. Brandon Shack-Harris already has a first and a second place finish at the 2014 WSOP, and he hopes to own a second bracelet by the end of the night. Dan Kelly is also in search of his second career bracelet.

  1. Yegor Tsurikov – 1,320,000
  2. Brandon Shack-Harris – 503,000
  3. Dan Kelly – 499,000
  4. Sean Berrios – 491,000
  5. Jesse Katz – 146,000

$1,500 No Limit Hold’em

It was a short bubble on Day 2 of Event 44, with just 14 unfortunate souls coming back for another day of poker only to go home empty-handed. Once that milestone was reached the eliminations were predictably rapid, with Ben Yu (183rd), James Woods (170th), Jeff Madsen (153rd), David Diaz (149th), Tristan Wade (142nd), Jackie Glazier (135th), Victor Ramdin (124th), Joe Serock (104th) and Trevor Pope (83rd) each earning small cashes.

There are 78 players left in this $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event, with Evan McNiff, Thomas Muehloecker and Jordan Morgan near the top of the chip counts. Theo Tran, Loni Harwood, Roberto Romanello, Yevginiy Timoshenko and Barry Greenstein are also hoping to make a push in the second half of Day 2, though they’ll have a slightly tougher time than the current chipleaders.

A first place prize of $478,102 and the bracelet awaits the champion, but for Day 2 they’ll have to get through Level 21 before they can bag up chips for the second time in this tournament.

$1,000 No Limit Hold’em

It wouldn’t be a Sunday afternoon at the WSOP without a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event to kick off the day’s action. With just 3,000 chips to start the action is fast and furious, with 1,783 players already cut down to 570 by the dinner break. Those 570 players are on that 90 minute break, and play will resume at about 8:10 pm PST.

For those still hoping to enter, registration is open until Level 7 begins, and all players choosing to do so will get 10 big blinds at 150/300/25 to start. Patrick Curzio, Dennis Phillips, Arnaud Mattern and Jared Hamby are among the very early chipleaders in this event.

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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