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WSOP Day 39: Main Event Becomes Main Attraction; Hellmuth Deep in Razz

WSOP Day 39: Main Event Becomes Main Attraction; Hellmuth Deep in Razz 0001

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The second Saturday in July brings about the biggest tournament in poker, the World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event. The first starting flight gets underway at 11 a.m. with players from around the world converging on the Rio for a shot at the most coveted title in poker. Over the next three days, names like Hellmuth, Moneymaker, Chan, Raymer, Brunson, and Nguyen will bring about a bit of nostalgia in rounders from all walks of life.

The Main Event began as an idea hatched in Texas gambler Benny Binion’s mind to promote his casino. In 1970, a small group of Texas rounders gathered at Binion’s for 10 days playing for high stakes in games like five card draw, 2-7 lowball, seven card stud, razz, and no limit hold’em. Players voted on the winner at the end – Texan and future Poker Hall of Fame member Johnny Moss. By 1972, no limit hold’em became the premier game and the $10,000 buy-in tournament that players now know as the Main Event was introduced.

In the intervening 47 years, the event has grown to mammoth proportions with numerous preliminary events. The championship bracelet was introduced by Binion in 1976, and has become the ultimate trophy in poker. Owning one has become the litmus test for poker greatness. The series has even expanded beyond Las Vegas with numerous circuit and bracelet events around the country and the world.

Binion surely couldn’t have imagined the scope that the game would become since his showcase began in 1970. In 2016, the WSOP drew 107,833 total entrants in 69 total events – the most in its history. The 2016 series awarded $221 million in prize money too, and the events brought in players from 107 countries – a sign of the international growth the game has undergone fueled by the growth of Internet poker and its popularity on television.

The venue has changed and numerous games and tournaments added, but the history remains. In recent years, some of those original games played in 1970 have even been worked back into the WSOP festivities in games like dealer’s choice and some of the mixed games events. And the foundation of that remains the Main Event. When players take their seats beginning Saturday in those first starting flights, they are not just attempting to win a poker tournament. They are attempting to become part of the game’s history – a history that traces its roots from the Revolutionary War to Civil War battlefields to 19th Century steamboats floating on the Mississippi River to scorching Las Vegas summers. Win that bracelet and your name becomes synonymous with some of the best in the game. Thousands will try, but only one will raise that shiny gold bracelet in victory.

As the Main Event gets the cards in the air on Saturday, a few events will still be wrapping up and continuing into the weekend with several big names still looking to bag a bracelet. In $1,500 Razz, 14-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth returns for Day 3 on a short stack, and Daniel Negreanu returns with a healthy chip stack in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em. PokerNews will be following every tournament to its conclusion this weekend.

Event #66: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

A fourth day of play will be required to settle this tournament that featured 1,956 entries. First place will award $428,423 and a bracelet. Emile Schiff and Chris Klodnicki are the last two remaining players and will be returning at noon on Saturday to finish their heads-up battle. Schiff returns with 9,760,000 chips and Klodnicki has 4,910,000. Schiff, from Ocho Rios, Jamaica, has limited tournament winnings ($28,808) and looking for his first major win.

Klodnicki has more than $6.3 million in WSOP winnings alone, but still lacks a gold bracelet. He’s had numerous close calls including four runner-up finishes and came in third this summer in the Event #17: $10,000 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed Championship for $117,786. Will he be able to overcome a chip disadvantage to take his first title? Follow along with PokerNews’ live updates when play resumes to find out.

Event #68: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em

After two days of action, only 37 runners return for the third day – led by Day 1 leader Chance Kornuth with 1,467,000. Kornuth has lifetime winnings of more than $5 million and is hoping for his second WSOP gold bracelet. Rounding out the top three are Konstantinos Nanos (1,237,000) and Jim Gilbert (1,174,000).

The event attracted 1,349 entries for a prize pool of $3,6 million, and only 348 players returned for Day 2. The winner will take home $645,922. Six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu bagged 262,000 chips and among those returning. The third day of play begins on Saturday at noon. The PokerNews live updates team will have every flop, turn, and river – click here to follow the action.

Event #69: $1,500 Razz

After the second day of action, 10 players remain to battle it out for $132,957 in prize money and one of the last gold bracelets of the summer. David "ODB" Baker leads the field with 614,000. Wendy Freedman (594,000) follows just behind him and is hoping for her second WSOP final table after finishing seventh in last year's ladies event.

Rounding out the top five are Brad Ruben (426,000), three-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser (324,000), and Jason Gola (312,000). Also still alive but on a the short stack is Phil Hellmuth with just 116,000. Day 3 kicks off on Saturday at 2 p.m. Click here to follow along with the PokerNews live updates.

Event #70: $10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship

The ladies took the spotlight on Friday and 85 return for Day 2 after 718 entered the field. All are hoping for the top prize of $135,098 and some WSOP gold. Parm Mehmi ended the day as chip leader with 120,000. In 2015, she finished in fifth place in this event and no doubt has her sights set even higher this year.

Rounding out the top five are Deborah Worley-Roberts (114,900), Katie Ansorge (114,800), Amanda Sizemore (107,500), and Kristen Deardorff (104,300). Sizemore also final tabled the 2015 event, finishing in third. Other notables remaining in the field include three-time bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst (94,800), Oanh Bui (92,700), Heidi May (74,400), Lynn Gilmartin (71,500), Julie Cornelius (63,900), Mandy Baker (56,000), and Na Young Kim (47,000). Gilmartin spoke with PokerNews about this event after the first break and was pleased to be returning.

The top 108 players at least received a min-cash of $1,520. Those returning are guaranteed a minimum payout of $1,605. The second day of action picks back up at noon and PokerNews will have all the action. Click here for every update.

Event #72: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship

The seven stud action attracted several big names hoping for the last title before the Main Event begins. The field brought 88 runners (one more than 2016) with just 29 returning for Day 2. The winner will take home $245,451, and John Monnette leads the pack with 371,000 chips. Monnette won his third bracelet this summer in the $10,000 2-7 Single Draw Championship and also has his sights set on Player of the Year honors, where he currently sits third.

Close behind are Perry Friedman (363,500) and Shaun Deeb (343,000). Also still alive are Chris Vitch, David Bach, Chris Ferguson, David Benyamine, Jason Mercier, Bryce Yockey, Bertrand Grospellier, and Brandon Shack-Harris. The top 14 players will earn a payday, and the action gets back underway on Saturday at 2 p.m. Follow it all with our live updates by clicking here.

Event #73A: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT

After over a month of bracelet chasing, the Big One is here. The grandest event in poker, the Main Event, begins on Saturday with the first of three starting flights kicking off at 11 a.m. Flights B and C will take place on Sunday and Monday. Each level will last two hours and players begin with 50,000 starting chips. First-day action will play through five levels, and will be carried live on ESPN2 and PokerGO.

Qui Nguyen’s aggressive style brought plenty of interest to the 2016 broadcast of the final table as he took home the coveted gold bracelet and first-place money of more than $8 million. The event attracted 6,737 runners for a massive $63.34 million prize pool. One of those expected to jump into the first day starting flight action is 2014 champion Martin Jacobsen. He recently spoke with PokerNews about his dramatic victory, in which he entered the final table eighth in chips and battled his way to the top.

This year, the November Nine has been scrapped and the tournament will play down to a champion over 10 days. Play is scheduled to reach the final table on Day 7 (Monday, July 17). Days 8-10 will then resume and be played on July 20-22 to reach a winner – all played out live in front of ESPN’s cameras. For more specifics, click here for the official WSOP structure sheet. CLICK HERE to follow along with the PokerNews live updates team. And if you’re ponying up the $10,000 for your shot at history and the bracelet – good luck!

  • While the #WSOP Main Event begins, Hellmuth and Negreanu chase gold.

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Sean Chaffin

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