Big One for One Drop Kicks Off, Zhang Wins Ladies Bracelet


Day 1 of the Big One for One Drop started on Sunday afternoon (Drew Amato Photo)

The atmosphere in the Rio for the 2014 World Series of Poker is electric. For the first time all summer, the ESPN production crew’s presence is being felt as the first day of the $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop got cards in the air. Spectators crowded the back corner of the Amazon Room to try and get a glimpse of a few of poker’s superstars that put up a cool $1 million to play the biggest buy-in of the summer. In-Q, a national slam poetry champion, got on the microphone and performed a poem in front of the large crowd that was assembled in front of the ESPN featured table before they did the table draws and got cards in the air.

While all of the attention was on the Big One For One Drop, two final tables were being played, a money bubble burst, and the Monster Stack No Limit Hold’em got cards in the air on the penultimate day of the five-day event.

$1,000,000 Big One For One Drop

Some of poker’s biggest names came out to the Rio to play Day 1 of the $1 million Big One for One Drop. Cards were slated to get in the air at 1 pm, but it ran slightly behind schedule because of the In-Q performance, pre-tournament player interviews and a live table draw.

Cards got in the air just before 2 pm with 38 players registered and in their seats. David “Doc” Sands, Rick Salomon and Rono Lo registered shortly thereafter bringing the total number of registrants to 41. At the end of the second level, Gabe Kaplan walked in holding a registration slip and was looking for his table, which brought the total field size to 42. The field still currently sits at 42 players, but late registration is open until the beginning of level 7 and the field will be capped at 54 if it gets that many players.

The field is full of poker’s biggest names including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Erik Seidel and Phil Galfond. Vanessa Selbst is also in the field and became the first female to ever play the event. There are also a few of poker’s biggest names who are making their first appearance in the event. Dan Smith, Anthony Gregg, Erick Lindgren, Isaac Haxton and Greg Merson are all playing the event for the first time.

Despite this being by far the biggest buy-in of Merson’s career, he doesn’t feel any added pressure on himself.

“It’s pretty relaxed at my table,” said the 2012 Main Event Champion. “I didn’t get a good very good table draw, but I’m having fun with it. There hasn’t been too much crazy action and I’m down a little bit in chips, but it’s been really relaxing. I am actually surprised at how relaxed I am.”

Merson is sitting at a table with Antonio Esfandiari, Erik Seidel, Brandon Steven, Dan Smith, Scott Seiver and Connor Drinan. With all of the money on the line, Merson doesn’t think that the pressure is getting to anybody else at his table either.

“Nobody really seems to be playing any differently than they normally would,” said Merson. “I’m surprised at how passive Antonio has been playing, but he could just be super card dead every hand. It’s hard to tell from two hours of playing. If he has 7-4 off-suit every hand, it’s not like he can really do anything.”

Like in every other WSOP, the players’ starting stack is three times their tournament buy-in, meaning that players in this event start with 3 million in tournament chips. It took David Einhorn, who finished third in this event in 2012, just 45 minutes to hit the rail after losing all 3 million to Sam Trickett.

On a flop of J62, Einhorn bet 75,000 and Trickett called. The turn was the 3 and Einhorn bet again, this time 175,000. Trickett raised to 475,000, Einhorn three-bet to 775,000 and Trickett called. The river was the Q and Einhorn bet 850,000. Trickett announced he was all in and Einhorn quickly called. Einhorn tabled JJ, good for top set, but Trickett tabled 54, giving him the nut straight, the pot and the first elimination of the tournament.

Trickett continued to get the best of his opponents and is one of the chip leaders as the tournament heads to the second break of the day. Here are a look at the top 10 chip counts of the remaining 41 players:

  1. Sam Trickett – 5,315,000
  2. Tom Hall – 5,200,000
  3. Brian Rast – 3,870,000
  4. Daniel Negreanu – 3,640,000
  5. Phil Galfond – 3,630,000
  6. Rono Lo – 3,570,000
  7. Vanessa Selbst – 3,565,000
  8. Guy Laliberte – 3,520,000
  9. Paul Newey – 3,500,000
  10. Greg Merson – 3,435,000

$1,500 Monster Stack No Limit Hold’em

Day 4 of the inaugural Monster Stack event began with 62 players still vying for the $1.3 million first place prize money. Action got underway at 3 pm and after the first three levels of play, only 27 players still have chips.

Bracelet winner Jason Duval started the day near the top of the chip counts, but hit some rough patches as the day moved on and was eliminated before the second break. He was eliminated in 31st place for $40,332.

Sean Drake leads the field with just shy of 11 million in chips. Thayer Rasmussen and Austin Bursavich are close on his heels though. Each with over 10 million in chips. Joseph McKeehen is also in the top ten chip counts, he sits with just shy of six million in chips.

Players are guaranteed at least $50,202 in prize money, but the plan is to play down to a final table before the night ends. A final table appearance would guarantee the players at least $127,364 and a shot at a seven figure score.

Here is a look at the top 10 chip counts:

  1. Sean Drake – 10,760,000
  2. Thayer Rasmussen – 10,400,000
  3. Austin Bursavich – 10,020,000
  4. Zachary Gruneberg – 9,400,000
  5. Hugo Pingray – 7,700,000
  6. Matthew Haugen – 6,700,000
  7. Joseph McKeehen – 5,960,000
  8. Bobby Bryam – 4,570,000
  9. Robert Gustafsson – 4,500,000
  10. Mark Peckham – 4,200,000

$1,000 No Limit Hold’em

The first day of the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em got underway at noon and as the tournament nears the end of level 6, there are 2,408 players already registered. Players are allowed to late register until after the dinner break is over, at which point the field will be finalized and the prizepool will be calculated.

Jennifer Tilly, Dominik Nitsche, and Jimmy Fricke are all near the top of the chip counts. Olivier Busquet, Barry Greenstein, Faraz Jaka, Eric Baldwin and Leo Wolpert have already been eliminated from the event.

$1,000 No Limit Hold’em Ladies Championship

Haixia Zhang defeated Mikiyo Aoki to take home her first bracelet and $153,470 in the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Ladies Championship. The final table started at 1 pm and was over in less than five hours. Daniel Negreanu’s personal assistant Patty Landis made the final table and finished in fifth place, taking home $33,279.

$1,500 No Limit Hold’em

The money bubble was looming over everybody’s heads as Day 2 of the $1,500 got kicked off at 1 pm. With 268 players returning, only 243 would get paid. The bubble would burst early in the day and as the tournament inching closer to dinner break, only 79 remain.

Asi Moshe is the chip leader with 391,000 and well-knwon pro Tim West is right on his heels with 380,000. Established pros Zo Karim and Eddy Sabat are also in the top 10. Aaron Massey is also doing well in this event, sitting with 150,000 chips.

Other notable pros with chips include Marc McLaughlin, Brandon Cantu, Erica Lindgren, David Pham and Ryan D’Angelo. Aaron Massey is also doing well in this event, sitting just outside the top 10 chip counts with 150,000.

“My day is going good,” said Massey. “I’m mashing everything and it’s working. When I need them to fold, they fold and so I just got to keep playing my game and not get ahead of myself and no when to get out of there and weasel away when they got me.”

“I’m just paying attention to the other eight players at my table. I know that everything else will melt around me. I just have to pay attention to my game at my table.”

Some notables that busted today include Corwin Cole, Todd Terry, Steve Sung and Daniel Buzgon. They were able to bust after the money bubble burst and lock up at least a min-cash of $2,911.

Here are a look at the top 10 chip counts:

  1. Asi Moshe – 391,000
  2. Tim West – 380,000
  3. Roger Andero – 313,500
  4. Kyle Ho – 259,000
  5. Henrik Hecklen – 235,000
  6. Bob Allen – 205,000
  7. Zo Karim – 190,000
  8. Mark Schmid -190,000
  9. Thomas Belasic – 177,000
  10. Eddy Sabat – 176,000

$3,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

The final day of the $3,000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo started with 20 players and have just reached the official final table of nine. There was plenty of star power to start the day, but a few of them hit the rail short of the final table.

Lee Markholt, Eoghan O’Dea, Fabrice Soulier and Paul Volpe all hit the rail before the final table was set. They finished in 19th, 18th, 15th and 13th, respectively.

Florian Langmann holds a sizable chip lead over the rest of the final table. He sits with over 1.3 million and Woody Deck is his closest competitor with 758,000.

Here are a look at the chip counts:

  1. Florian Langmann – 1,336,000
  2. Woody Deck – 758,000
  3. Jonathan Depa – 415,000
  4. Shiva Dudani – 350,000
  5. Doug Baughman – 327,000
  6. Zach Freeman – 319,000
  7. TJ Eisenman – 296,000
  8. Dylan Wilkerson – 249,000
  9. Anthony Lellouche – 145,000
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