Whether it was the madness of the Colossus or the crazy action at the table deep in two other events, there was an abundance of energy in the air on Day 3 of the 2015 World Series of Poker.
One bracelet event crowned the first open event champion one day earlier than scheduled, while another event scheduled to end Saturday looks increasingly likely to stretch into a fourth day.
While Day 2 of the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout was largely overshadowed for much of the day by Colossus and a stacked $5K final table, it arguably produced the most intriguing storyline of all by the end of a day during which some serious history was made.
$3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout
After James Woods eliminated Sam Stein from his Shootout table to get heads-up with Doug Polk for a spot at a WSOP final table, most oddsmakers would have made Polk – one of the foremost heads-up players in the world – a pretty heavy favorite. They started their heads-up match with Polk slightly ahead, and what followed was a back and forth battle that ultimate lasted for more than six hours, and ended up taking place primarily on the secondary featured table due to lack of space thanks to Colossus.
By the tail end of their match, a sizable crowd had gathered to watch it all play out – and they all got to see Woods defeat Polk to make his first career WSOP final table.
If you want the best poker lesson you could ever have, spend eleven hours at a poker table with @DougPolkPoker
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 30, 2015
. @DougPolkPoker Thank you, Doug. You are brilliant and a gentleman. Playing with you was a highlight of my life.
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 30, 2015
Woods, an actor with an impressive body of work that dates back over 40 years and includes prolific roles in movies like Casino, Videodrome and Once Upon a Time in America, has already locked up one of the biggest cashes of his poker career, but his eyes lie squarely on the same prize as nine other hungry players – the bracelet in the $3,000 Shootout.
It won’t come easily, as bracelet winners Loni Harwood, Leo Wolpert and Brian Lemke, along with David Peters, Jason Les, Andreas Hoivold and Nick Petrangelo, are all standing in his way after winning their respective four-handed tables on Day 2. Harwood scored a double-knockout that included Jason Somerville to secure her seat at the final table, while Lemke beat out a pair of Main Event champions in Carlos Mortensen and Joe Cada.
Sam Greenwood, Tim West, Andrey Pateychuk, Jeff Gross, Craig McCorkell, Jake Balsiger and Giacomo Fundaro also failed to win their Day 2 tables, settling for a min-cash of $6,180.
The final 10 come back at 2 pm PST to play down to a winner.
- Nick Petrangelo – 474,000
- Andreas Hoivold – 472,000
- David Peters – 467,000
- James Woods – 462,000
- Brian Lemke – 460,000
- Derek Bowers – 460,000
- Loni Harwood – 446,000
- Jeffrey Griffiths – 445,000
- Leo Wolpert – 444,000
- Jason Les – 443,000
$5,000 No Limit Hold’em
There were some heavy hitters among the 20 players who came back for Day 3 of the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em, and a number of them fell on the rapid path to a final table within the first couple hours of play Friday.
Four bracelet winners made the final table of nine, and rather than finishing abruptly and coming back for a scheduled fourth day tournament officials electing to play the event out Friday night. Greg Merson controlled the action for big chunks of the final table, but with his exit in fourth it appeared as if Bryn Kenney was heading towards his second bracelet in as many years at the WSOP.
Michael Wang had other plans, though, and fought his way back from a 9-to-1 deficit to pull even only for Kenney to reopen a lead of over 2-to-1 again. Over the course of the final 11 hands, and in three in particular, however, Wang quickly turned it around and then dispatched one of the more accomplished tournament players in world on the way to winning the first open event of the 2015 WSOP.
It started when Wang pulled close again after calling down a bluff with top two-pair, and ultimately led to back-to-back hands in which Wang took the chiplead and then the tournament itself. A flopped straight with T 9 and a calldown by Kenney on the river for most of Wang’s chips put Wang ahead with a 3-to-2 lead, and then a nasty cooler wrapped it all up.
Wang raised to 150,000, Kenney called, the flop fell K Q 8 and Kenney checked. Wang bet 150,000 again, Kenney raised to 415,000 and Wang called. The turn was the 9, Kenney bet 765,000 and Wang called again. The river was the T and Kenney bet 1,645,000, leaving himself just over 1 million behind. After a minute of thinking Wang shoved and put Kenney to the test, but it would take a little while before he’d finally call with 9 6. His hesitations would prove correct as Wang tabled J 2 for a flush to clinch victory to the tune of $466,120 and a gold WSOP bracelet.
The final table featured a lot of exciting and unlikely hands, including a spot where Merson flopped a set of jacks to a set of aces from Long Nguyen that turned into quads for Merson on the turn, just before all the money went in. That pot gave Merson, who was in search of a third career WSOP bracelet, a lead that he’d hold onto for some time before letting it slip.
Wang, for his part, did not seem intimidated by any of the other big names at the table. He even correctly surmised that Kenney would have a flush a lot of the time when contemplating his options on the final hand – and utilized that information to secure victory, as he detailed in his winner’s interview.
- Michael Wang – $466,120
- Bryn Kenney – $287,870
- Artur Koren – $208,177
- Greg Merson – $152,126
- Jason Wheeler – $112,239
- Amir Lehavot – $83,838
- Joe Ebanks – $63,210
- Long Nguyen – $48,137
- Byron Kaverman – $37,030
As expected, the Colossus completely filled all three main rooms (save for some space reserved for Day 2’s) as well as extra tables placed in the Poker Kitchen, outside Buzio’s and in the Rio Poker Room at the front of the casino.
Both Flight A and Flight B sold out all of their initial real estate in terms of seats and took two additional waves of players to accommodate as many players as possible. The same thing has already happened for Saturday’s Flight C and Flight D, though registration lines are expected to continue until the very end of registration in Flight D.
While the total size of the field and each individual flight won’t be known for at least a day, due to stacks being forfeited for a wide variety of reasons, approximately 1,530 players made it through from the first two starting flights. The WSOP has claimed more than 20,000 total registrations so far, and even with the abandoned stacks that number’s sure to climb as the day goes on.
Flight A big stack Ty Durekas (179,100) and Flight B top dog Ian O’Hara (184,000) lead the way with two sessions to go. Daniel Strelitz, Dan O’Brien, Joe McKeehen, Dan Heimiller, Marco Johnson and Jeremy Ausmus made it through Flight A, while Chris Moorman, Mukul Pahuja, Zo Karim and Ronnie Bardah were just a few of the Flight B survivors.
Flight C gets underway at 10 am PST and Flight D follows immediately after it wraps up at approximately 7:00 pm PST. Survivors from all four flights will combine into a single session Sunday afternoon starting at 5 pm PST.
$1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo
While the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em event outpaced its projected schedule and wrapped a day early, it looks likely that the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo event will need an extra day as 49 players advanced to Day 3.
Kelly Vandemheen takes the chiplead into Saturday with 466,000, miles ahead of Thomas Taylor (288,000) and the rest of the field to start the day. Eric Crain (236,000) finished the night in the top five, with Robert Mizrachi (184,000), Don Zewin (165,000) and John Monnette (117,000) among the big names in the hunt.
The money bubble was reached just after the dinner break, though it took a pretty stressful stretch to get there for certain short stacks as they went to dinner one off the money. Dutch Boyd (117th), Steve Billirakis (108th), Chris Bjorin (99th), Eli Elezra (88th), Ari Engel (85th), Allen Cunningham (75th), Tony Cousineau (72nd), Taylor Paur (63rd) and John Cernuto (62nd) each finished on the right side of that money bubble.
They’ll resume play at 2 pm PST and get as close as they can to a winner within their allotted time.
Saturday will once again be all about the Colossus, with the final two starting flights representing the only new tournament action for Day 4 of the 2015 WSOP. At least one more bracelet-winner will be crowned in the $3,000 Shootout, and possibly a second in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo depending on time restraints.
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