Ashton Grabs $50K Players Championship Lead, Hold’em Overload

Matthew Ashton shot into the chiplead in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship after winning a massive three-way PLO pot. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

Matthew Ashton shot into the chiplead in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship after winning a massive three-way PLO pot. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

While the $50,000 Poker Players Championship continues to grab most of the attention on Day 35 of the 2013 WSOP, No Limit Hold’em dominates the rest of the action at the Rio. Four No Limit Hold’em events at various buy-in levels were in play Tuesday, including two that have or will crown champions by the end of the night.

The $2,500 No Limit event quickly reached the money on Day 2 as a wide range of top pros seek one of a quickly shrinking number of bracelets on the line, while the $5,000 saw a significant dropoff in field size from the tournament held one year ago. The energy is palpable in the Amazon Room with the Main Event looming less than four days away, but in the meantime there are still eight winners yet to be crowned.

Event 55 – $50,000 Poker Players Championship

They may not reach the money on Day 3 of the Poker Players Championship, but the action in this tournament on Tuesday afternoon will dramatically affect how the final days will go. David Benyamine entered the day as the chipleader, and while he’s still among the top 10 stacks he has a serious challenge on his hands from top young pros Matthew Ashton and Justin Smith.

“I may not know how to order food but I know how to hold with top set!,” Tweeted Ashton after winning a massive three-way all in against Todd Brunson and Brandon Cantu. Ashton got all of his chips in on a T 6 4 board with A J T T, but he was fading a lot of cards. Ashton had blockers to the flush draw but Cantu had the nut spade draw with A Q 7 5; Cantu had a few of Brunson’s outs, but his 9 8 7 5 still represented a massive wrap draw. The 4 killed all of the drama immediately, giving Ashton the whole 900,000 chip pot and the overall chiplead while the younger Brunson in the field exited and Cantu was crippled.

Ashton already has three final tables at the 2013 WSOP, all coming in events that are part of the $50,000 Players Championship mix. Smith, David Bach, Jonathan Duhamel and Adam Friedman are among the big stacks with 54 players left. Doyle Brunson is very short-stacked, but he’s hanging on in his first tournament of the 2013 WSOP.

They have two-and-a-half 100 minute levels left to play, with a $111,000 bubble looming in the not-too-distant future. Here’s what the top 10 stacks look like at the moment.

  1. Matthew Ashton – 800,000
  2. Justin Smith – 780,000
  3. Jean Gaspard – 760,000
  4. David Bach – 737,500
  5. Jonathan Duhamel – 730,000
  6. David Benyamine – 700,000
  7. Tommy Hang – 660,000
  8. Don Nguyen – 606,000
  9. Adam Friedman – 600,000
  10. Troy Burkholder – 594,000

Event 54 – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em

Just 14 players came back with a chance at this bracelet Tuesday, most notably Jacob Bazeley. It was slow going early on Day 3, but after a few levels at the final table a double-elimination, one that took Bazeley out in seventh, there are six players still in the running. That includes Dana Castaneda, who cashed in the Ladies’ event and immediately joined this tournament field after busting. She’d be the first woman to win an open event since Vanessa Selbst did it in 2012.

Barry Hutter has the chiplead with over 3 million, but Jason Bigelow is second after executing the double knock-out, getting Bazeley and Wertz in one fell swoop after picking up pocket aces. Here’s how the final six stack up.

  1. Barry Hutter – 3,265,000
  2. Jason Bigelow – 2,200,000
  3. Dana Castaneda – 1,800,000
  4. Philippe Clerc – 1,280,000
  5. Michael Zucchet – 999,000
  6. Matthias Bednarek – 495,000

Event 56 – $2,500 No Limit Hold’em

Just 242 players returned for Day 2 of this event, more akin to the pace of a smaller event with fewer chips in play, making for a short trip to the bubble. Lee Childs (190th), Erik Seidel (170th), Griffin Benger (168th), Dan Smith (161st), Steve Gross (141st), Tripp Kirk (122nd), Nick Jivkov (120th), Blair Hinkle (117th) and David Peters (114th) each survived that 50-player stretch but failed to make it to the dinner break.

Before busting out, Hinkle was in a tough spot, wedged between recent bracelet winner Danny Fuhs and Josh Arieh. “Back above avg,” Tweeted Arieh, “I’ll have about 500K here in a few minutes. Not sure how many are left, but they’re wasting their time.” Fuhs and Arieh, along with Jonathan Tamayo, Jesse Sylvia, Russell Thomas and 2011 WSOP Main Event champion Pius Heinz, are still alive with just over 100 players left in the field. Here’s the approximate counts of the top 10 stacks as of this post.

  1. Anthony Ruberto – 379,000
  2. Chris Karambinis – 360,000
  3. John Scaife – 315,000
  4. Jacob Schindler – 275,500
  5. Ricardo Fasanaro – 262,300
  6. Jamil Kanji – 243,000
  7. Elias Jaajaa – 230,000
  8. Yasuhiro Ojiri – 215,000
  9. Josh Arieh – 210,000
  10. Scott Neuman – 190,000

Event 53 – $1,500 No Limit Hold’em

BLUFF POY leader Mike Watson went out in fifth place late on Day 3 of this tournament, but they couldn’t quite get it done in the originally allotted time. After a hard-stop forced a third day on the final three players, Brett Shaffer beat Arttu Raekorpi and David Vamplew on the way to his first career bracelet and a $665,397 payday.

Event 57 – $5,000 No Limit Hold’em

No Limit Hold’em was certainly the game of choice Tuesday at the Rio, and the $5,000 event was no exception. There were 784 total entrants for this tournament, meaning 81 players will get paid out at least $9,175. The top six players each get at least $129,447, with the top prize of $792,275 and a gold WSOP bracelet for the eventual champion.

While the last few days have shown growth in some the biggest buy-in events of the summer, this tournament suffered one of the biggest year-over-year drops in field size of the 2013 WSOP. There were 1,001 players in the mix in this tournament one year ago when Pete Vilandos beat Kyle Julius to win his third career WSOP bracelet. That’s a drop of almost 22 percent.

There’s still a lot of money on the line, and while there are days of poker ahead before anything’s decided a few players are off to a nice head start. Phil Laak, Matt Berkey, Ludovic Lacay, Joe Serock and Eugene Katchalov each find themselves near the top of the counts on the dinner break of Day 1 with approximately 550 players remaining

Elsewhere at the Rio…

The final non-Hold’em tournament of the Carnivale of Poker Series (excluding the $5,000 Open Face event) is underway, with a $365 Pot Limit Omaha event bringing together a crowd hoping to claim a medallion. As of this post there are 197 players registered, with late registration still open until 8:15.

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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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