Watson Leads with 5 Left in $1,500, Duhamel Dominates Early in $50K

Jonathan Duhamel got a hold of some chips on Day 1 of the Poker Players Championship, and he's continued to build his stack on Day 2. (Jay Newnum photo)

Jonathan Duhamel got a hold of some chips on Day 1 of the Poker Players Championship, and he’s continued to build his stack on Day 2. (Jay Newnum photo)

The 2013 WSOP is in its home stretch, just five days away from the start of the Main Event. Before the premier poker event of the year begins, though, there are several big titles left to be decided in the coming week. The $111,111 One Drop High Roller and $25,000 Six-Max No Limit Hold’em events are in the books, but a record-setting $50,000 Poker Players Championship event is underway and the $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event that started at noon had a massive turnout to provide two more chances at massive paydays.

There are serious BLUFF Player of the Year implications in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em as the new leader looks to cement his status as top dog, with the fourth and final event on the schedule, a $1,000 No Limit event, quickly plays down towards a Day 3 of its own.

$50,000 Poker Players Championship

With a $111,111 and a $25,000 buy-in in quick succession in the week leading up to the Poker Players Championship, it would be understandable if a few players on the fence sat it out, affecting the total field size. That was anything but the case, with 113 of the 120 players who registered on Day bagging up chips and 12 additional players registering at the start of Day 2. The field reached a record-setting 132 players for this 8-Game format, challenging the 148 player mark reached when the tournament was held as a HORSE event in 2007 and 2008.

The considerable turnout built a prizepool of $6,336,000, with the top 16 players earning at least $111,893. The top two finishers in this tournament will get a seven-figure payday, with a top prize of $1,774,089, one of the most coveted bracelets of the summer and the Chip Reese Memorial trophy awaiting the champion.

Jonathan Duhamel bagged the chiplead after Day 1 and he’s continued to dominate during the first few levels of Day 3. His starting stack of 401,300 has grown to 515,000, keeping him in the lead, but Duhamel has some competition in the form of Brian Rast, Justin Smith and George Danzer, who’ve each earned a big stack of their own.

There are five 100-minute levels on the schedule for Day 2, with the final table not set to take place until July 4. Here are the top ten stacks with 113 players left in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship

  1. Jonathan Duhamel – 515,000
  2. Brian Rast – 490,000
  3. Justin Smith – 465,000
  4. George Danzer – 390,000
  5. Jared Bleznick – 360,000
  6. Gary Benson – 336,100
  7. David Benyamine – 335,000
  8. Brandon Cantu – 325,000
  9. Michael Glick – 295,000
  10. Greg Mueller – 294,000

$1,500 No Limit Hold’em

It took less than four hours for the field to play down from 25 players to a final table of nine, and that’s thanks in large part to new BLUFF Player of the Year leader Mike Watson. He started Day 3 on a tremendous run, taking the chiplead with two tables left, and then Watson played a tremendous pot against Sean Wallace, another one of the big stacks at the time. Watson flopped top set with J J on a J 4 2 Q 9 board, leading on every street and shoving the river. Wallace called and showed 9 9, going out in 16th.

“Set over set another biggish stack first hand after break,” Tweeted Watson. “Have over 2.5M now, big chip lead.”

Watson maintained that stack through to the final table, taking 2.6 million into nine-handed play. He’s increased his stack to 3.7 million with five players left, but with just under 12.7 million in play Watson is far from locking up victory yet. If he wins his first bracelet at his third final table of the 2013 WSOP, Watson will put a significant amount of space between himself and the rest of the field in the BLUFF POY race.

There are currently just five players left as they play for the lone bracelet being awarded Monday night on the main stage. Here are the approximate chip counts for the remaining players.

  1. Mike Watson – 3,700,000
  2. Brett Shaffer – 2,910,000
  3. Loni Harwood – 2,850,000
  4. Arttu Raekorpi – 1,685,000
  5. David Vamplew – 1,260,000

$2,500 No Limit Hold’em

The WSOP brings out the biggest tournament crowds of the year, but the week before the Main Event takes things to a completely different level. A total of 1,736 players, the kind of field size normally reserved for $1,500 events, registered for the lone full-ring $2,500 No Limit Hold’em event of the summer. After filling the Brasilia Room completely, the capacity limits of the Amazon Room were tested with three restarts and the overflow from this event taking up nearly every table.

This field well outpaced the tremendous turnout in this event one year ago, when 1,607 players came out and Joey Weissman took down the bracelet and just shy of $700,000. This year’s prizepool swelled to $3,949,400, paid out to the final 198 players. A min-cash is worth $4,462, but the majority of players will be looking at the top six spots, which will pay six figures each. The champion will get $730,756 and the 56th bracelet of the 2013 WSOP.

Matt Marafioti, Lee Childs, Matt Berkey, Cliff Josephy and Josh Brikis are among the early leaders.

$1,000 No Limit Hold’em

The final $1,000 event of the summer is shrinking at a predictably rapid pace, with just 54 players left in the mix midway through Day 2. There’s plenty of talent rising to the top, as has been the case in $1,000 No Limit events since the start of the series. Reigning WPT Player of the Year Matt Salsberg has been crushing in the early levels of Day 2.

“415k on break,” Tweeted Salsberg. “Average is 121k. 71 left.”

He maintained that stack over the next couple of hours, with 365,000 as the dinner break quickly approaches. Amanda Musumeci, Rocco Palumbo and Gabe Nassif are also still in with just six tables left. They outlasted Kathy Liebert (188th), Erik Seidel (174th), Nick Binger (172nd), Russell Crane (158th), Kyle Bowker (143rd), Jesse Sylvia (132nd), Greg Hobson (119th), JC Tran (106th), Jim Collopy (89th) and Sam Grafton (66th), who each went out on Day 2.

They’ll play to a final table or as close as they can get to one in 10 levels of play, with the final table scheduled to play out Tuesday afternoon. Here are approximate chip counts for the top 10 players in the field.

  1. Orjan Skommo – 410,000
  2. Matt Salsberg – 396,000
  3. Matt Weber – 338,500
  4. Amanda Musumeci – 280,000
  5. Michael Katz – 235,000
  6. Dana Castaneda – 230,000
  7. Barry Hutter – 220,000
  8. Jacob Bazeley – 185,000
  9. Warwick Mirzikinian – 180,000
  10. Brian Bord – 175,000
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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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