Five Thoughts: The 2016 WSOP's Most Memorable Performances, Outside of the Unforgettable
It has been exactly one month since the summer stanza of the 2016 World Series of Poker wrapped up in Las Vegas. Attention has obviously turned to the final nine players left in the Main Event as they prepare to play down to a champion in late October and early November, and of course, when we look back at the series, it's hard to forget the performances of double-bracelet winner and 2016 WSOP Player of the Year Jason Mercier, and the summer's leading money winner, Fedor Holz.
However, there were several other players who may not have dominated media coverage this summer, but had the kind of results they're not likely to forget, nor should we. With that in mind, we're turning this week's Five Thoughts into a top five list, looking back at the 2016 WSOP's top performances to remember, outside of those unforgettable ones.
It may have been tough sledding putting together a memorable summer, with Mercier stealing all the headlines and Holz winning all the money, but the following players more than managed it:
1. Bonomo Plays Bridesmaid
Casual observers may have thought Justin Bonomo was too busy championing the cause of social justice around the poker community to play the game at the highest level. Boy, would they have been wrong.
Bonomo didn't win his second WSOP bracelet this summer, but he came oh-so-close with two runner-up finishes and two third place finishes.
In fact, he booked six cashes for a total of $1,363,044 in earnings over the course of the series, good for fifth on the 2016 WSOP money-winner's list. Plus, one of those runner-up finishes came in the prestigious $50,000 Poker Players Championship, where it took a boat-over-Broadway bad beat to bounce him out and give Brian Rast his second title in that event.
With four final tables and over $1.3 million in earnings, Bonomo continued to prove he's one of the game's best, and while it may not have grabbed too many headlines, his performance at the 2016 WSOP was surely one to remember.
2. The Second Best Week of the WSOP
He may not have came first, second, and first in three consecutive $10,000 Championship level events over the course of a historic week like Jason Mercier did, but at the end of the series, Dan Smith put together a memorable run in two of the biggest buy-in events of the summer over a six-day period, certainly rivaling that accomplishment.
First, he finished third in the $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha for $487,361. Then, after being the last person to late-register for the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop, he finished second to Fedor Holz two days later for a whopping $3,078,974.
Smith banked a total of $3,593,697 this summer, a number that was only bested by Holz' $5,023,694 on the 2016 WSOP money winner's list. His WSOP was definitely a memorable one and leads us to get excited about watching him at the 2017 WSOP.
3. Israelashvili Breaks Cashes Record
The record for the most cashes in a single WSOP was falling daily by the end of the series. With the WSOP committed to paying 15 percent of the field in events across the board this year, the record 11 cashes Russia's Konstantin Puchkov made at the 2012 WSOP was more attainable this summer, and fell hard, with eleven players matching or beating it.
In the end, however, it was Roland Israelashvili who set the new mark in this new era. Israelashvili collected $113,704 from 13 total cashes, booking scores in everything from the $565 Colossus II to the $10,000 Main Event, and breaking a deadlock for the new record at 12 with a cash in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop event that wrapped up the summer.
For as long as this new mark stands, the WSOP record books will ensure Israelashvili's summer of 2016 is not forgotten.
4. The Mizrachi Brothers Do It Again
Mizrachi brothers Michael and Robert seem to make their mark on the WSOP every year, and 2016 was no outlier. Michael Mizrachi booked 12 cashes and was among those in the hunt to set the new record for the most cashes in a single WSOP. His biggest score was the $380,942 he collected for a fourth-place finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, an event he'd already won twice before.
Robert Mizrachi did his part winning his fourth career WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship and appeared to be a threat in just about everything else he entered, grabbing eight more cashes, including finishing just shy of two more final tables in the $10,000 Seven Card Razz Championship and $25,000 High Roller Pot-Limit Omaha. Plus, he booked 14th in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, with the brothers vying for the lead at several times throughout the event.
Some people have a tough time figuring out Michael's style of play and wonder how he gets it done, while Robert flies under the radar, winning about as quietly as one can while playing the role of the consummate professional. Either way, the Mizrachi's put together another memorable summer, and while they may continue to be underdogs to again next year at the 2017 World Series of Poker, no one's really betting against it.
5. LaPlante Makes His Mark
Ryan LaPlante kicked off the summer as the front runner in the WSOP Player of the Year race, cashing in three out of the first ten events on the schedule before booking his first WSOP bracelet win in the twelfth: The massive $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event, setting the record for the largest ever live PLO tournament.
The openly gay poker pro also gave an emotional and heartfelt speech at his bracelet ceremony, which took place the day after a tragic mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and seemed poised to be a big part of the story of the 2016 WSOP as the series unfolded.
Much like the rest of the field, LaPlante had a tough time competing with Jason Mercier for that POY title, but he did grab 12 cashes total and was among the players chasing the new record for the most cashes in a single WSOP all summer.
Ultimately, a hot start fizzled out somewhat, but the longtime grinder still put together a more than memorable 2016 WSOP and proved he will be a force to reckon with on the felt in the future.