The 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) is underway. At the two week mark, a total of 18 bracelets have been doled out, with 18 individuals becoming the envy of the entire poker community. It all started back on May 27th with the $500 buy-in Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em event. In the end, bartender Andrew Cohen blasted through the 866 player field en route to an $83,000 payday. That’s quite a return on investment and marked Cohen’s first WSOP cash in Las Vegas.
Then, the big-time events began. WSOP officials wanted to start the festivities off with a bang to the tune of a $40,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th running of the WSOP. The event generated a $7.7 million prize pool, the largest ever for a non-Main Event tournament. In the end, Russian poker player Vitaly Lunkin banked $1.8 million and his second gold bracelet for his troubles. Lunkin took down a $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event last year. In Event #3, Thang Luu took down the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better tournament for the second straight year, besting the largest field ever assembled for that variety of poker. Luu also took second in the event back in 2007, becoming the first player since Johnny Chan to grab two wins and a runner-up effort over three consecutive years in the same tournament. Chan, of course, accomplished the feat in the Main Event, winning it all in 1987 and 1988 before falling to Phil Hellmuth heads-up in 1989.
Event #4 of the 2009 WSOP was the $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Stimulus Special. Designed to give poker players struggling financially an opportunity to play on the industry’s biggest stage, Event #4 attracted a field of 6,012 players, the largest non-Main Event field in WSOP history. Steve Sung turned $1,000 into $771,000 with the win, besting Panayote Vilandos heads-up. Well-known poker pro Dan Heimiller finished sixth in the tournament, which featured a $5.4 million prize pool. It was the first open $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em freezeout held since 2006.
European Poker Tour (EPT) San Remo and London High Roller winner Jason Mercier solidified himself as one of the world’s premier tournament players by taking down a bracelet in Event #5, a $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha contest. Mercier battled against online poker player Steven “PiKappRaider” Burkholder heads-up in the 809 player tournament. Mercier has made several deep runs in WSOP tournaments since his win in Event #5 and I would not be shocked to see him back in the winner’s circle before the conclusion of the Main Event.
Freddie Ellis and Travis Johnson took down bracelets in Events #6 and #7, respectively, until one of poker’s most popular players reentered the spotlight by winning Event #8. Four years after Full Tilt Poker pro Phil Ivey’s last WSOP victory, he took down a No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball tournament for $96,000. Here’s a fun stat for you: Ivey’s six WSOP bracelets have come in five different genres of poker. He’s pretty good.
Here are the other 10 bracelet winners so far from the 2009 WSOP:
Event 9: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed: Ken Aldridge ($428,259)
Event 10: $2,500 Pot-Limit Holdem/Omaha: Rami Boukai ($244,862)
Event 11: $2,000 No Limit Hold’em: Anthony Harb ($569,254)
Event 12: $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event: Ville Wahlbeck ($492,375)
Event 13: $2,500 No Limit Hold’em: Keven Stammen ($506,786)
Event 14: $2,500 Limit Hold’em Six Handed: Brock Parker ($223,697)
Event 15: $5,000 No Limit Hold’em: Brian Lemke ($692,658)
Event 16: $1,500 Seven Card Stud: Jeffrey Lisandro ($124,975)
Event 17: $1,000 Ladies World No Limit Hold’em Championship: Lisa Hamilton ($195,390)
Event 18: $10,000 World Championship Omaha High-Low: Daniel Alaei ($445,898)
Best of luck to all Mac poker players in the 2009 WSOP.