There will be some relieved members of poker's elite set who made bets that Tom Dwan would not win a bracelet in this year's WSOP; his best chance (barring success in the main event) crashed in flames in event 55 Saturday as he headed for the rail in 17th place for a $31,288 paycheck, but no bracelet. It was the latest of several attempts in a slew of events entered by the high stakes internet phenom that came to cashes, but no cigar.
Elsewhere, 21-year-old Dan Kelly and Brandon Taylor took gold, whilst Hollywood celebs and poker aces joined in a non-bracelet charity event dubbed Ante Up For Africa to raise money for refugees in Darfur, Somalia.
Youthful internet player Dan Kelly (21) took the honours in event 52 - the prestigious $25,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em / Six-Handed contest, prevailing against a field of 191 that initially included many of the top players in the world. It took four action packed days to decide a winner, with the final table of six that emerged Friday night reconvening Saturday afternoon for the great decider.
The final table looked like this when play restarted Saturday, with each of the survivors guaranteed a payout of at least $200,000, and a main prize of a life changing $1,315,518:
Dan Kelly 5,890,000
Frank Kassela 2,610,000
Shawn Buchanan 2,110,000
Jason Somerville 1,660,000
Michael Thuritz 1,530,000
Eugene Katchalov 475,000
In the event, day 4 saw a remarkable attrition rate in which five players were busted out in the first three levels of action. Low stack Eugene Katchalov was the first to go, followed by Mikael Thuritz and Jason Somerville, with veteran Frank Kassela missing out on a third bracelet when he was eliminated a little later, clearing the way for a Kelly vs. Buchanan heads up.
Although starting the level 28 heads up at a slight chip disadvantage, Kelly maintained his bold, aggressive and skillful style of play to first match his opponent and then dominate play to take the bracelet and the main prize - his biggest win yet.
With more than three-quarters of the chips in play in the final pot of the day, Kelly managed to find a three-out ace on the river to eliminate Buchanan, whose runner-up prize was worth a handsome $812,941.
Vegas-resident Brandon Taylor beat his roomie Ben Yu in the heads up to take home his first WSOP bracelet and a $184,950 main prize in event 53, the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold'em Shootout, besting an original star-studded field of 548 players on the way.
The event came to a conclusion on its third day of action Saturday night at level 8 with Taylor holding a sufficiently large chip advantage to ensure the heads up would last for only a few hands, leaving his house-mate with a runner-up prize of $114,484.
Day 2 of event 54, the last of the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em competitions, was still going strong late Saturday night as the combined survivors of two Day 1 preliminary heats battled it out for a share in a prize pool of some $3,459,000, created by an original entry field of 3,844, many of them top stars who were to fall by the wayside in the first two days of frenetic action and frightening attrition rates.
Chris Moneymaker, Barry Shulman, Chad Brown, Men Nguyen, J.C. Tran, David Wiliams, Ken Aldridge and Phil Ivey all hit the rail on Friday, along with many, many others.
Saturday afternoon saw the start of Day 2 play with 586 players returning for a crack at a gold bracelet and the $570,960 first prize in this event. The money bubble was scheduled to burst at the 396 elimination point, and Tommaso Briotti, Eelke Arjaans, and Andrew Talbot were the big stacks in the field as the cards again hit the air.
By late Saturday night at level 16 the field had breached the money barrier and was down to 126 contestants, led by Matthew Lupton on 260,000, followed by Raymond Bonavida on 255,000, with average chip stacks around 91,523
Notable departures included George Lind, Shannon Shorr, Tony Dunst, UK players James Dempsey, Kara Scott and Liv Boeree.
Tom Dwan made event 55, the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Championship, a talking point this year as the best of his unsuccessful attempts to win a bracelet against a reportedly significant amount of side bets that he would not.
Although he has entered several events in his quest for that first elusive bracelet, internet high stakes phenom Dwan has not been successful, and event 55 was no exception as he crashed out in 17th place for $31,288. His only remaining opportunity now is this year's main event.
Day 2 of the event saw the original field of 171 reduced to 33 with Dwan in the lead and several top names in pursuit, including Jason Mercier, Alexander Kravchenko, Daniel Alaei, Michael Binger, David Ulliot, Blair Rodman, Jordan Smith and Phil Hellmuth.
The action recommenced Saturday afternoon, and by late Saturday night at level 25 a final table had been reached when the players were given the opportunity to decide whether to play on or come back for a fourth day - the unanimous decision was to call it a night and bag the chips up, with the final table set as follows:
Seat 1: Ludovic Lacay - 2,279,000
Seat 2: Daniel Alaei - 1,800,000
Seat 3: Miguel Proulx - 2,440,000
Seat 4: Matthew Wheat - 745,000
Seat 5: Ville Mattila - 490,000
Seat 6: Trevor Uyesugi - 435,000
Seat 7: Alexander Kravchenko - 330,000
Seat 8: Stephen Pierson - 570,000
Seat 9: Dmitry Stelmak - 1,285,000
Notable departures during Day 3 included Jason Mercier in 10th place for $50,867; Phil Hellmuth in 15th place for $39,906 and of course Tom Dwan in 17th place for $31,288. Other big names sent to the rail during the day were Nenad Medic and Dave Ulliott.
Event 56, the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em contest, entered Day 2 with an original field of 1,941 whittled down to 507 survivors and Daniel Smith leading the way with 229,000, twice as many chips as his nearest rival.
But there remained some serious competition in the field, with Isaac Baron, Court Harrington, Shane Schleger, David Singer, Victor Ramdin, Dan Heimiller and Matt Hawrilenko still in the running.
By late Saturday night level 10 had been reached with the money bubble bursting at spot number 198 and 120 players still standing. Sasha Rosewood was leading on 320,000, followed by Stephen Cellucci on 310,000.
Notable names headed for the rail during the evening included Andre Akkari, Jamie Gold, Alex Keating and Pieter de Korver.
Saturday also saw the start and the conclusion, of the non-bracelet, $5,000 buy-in charity event Ante Up for Africa.
This was the fourth run for the charity match, which combines Hollywood celebs and poker players in a largely good natured and amusing competition for the benefit of the Darfur refugees in Africa.
Devised by Annie Duke and movie actor Don Cheadle, the event has been a popular and successful revenue earner for the charity and this year pulled in 84 entrants, unfortunately lower than last year's 137 field for this match.
Among those seen taking their seats were Don Cheadle, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Brad Garrett, Montel Williams, Ron Artest boxers Evander Holyfield and Jeff Fenech, Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Erik Seidel, Phil Gordon, Shannon Elizabeth, Andy Bloch, Brad Garret, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey and cricketing legend Shane Warne.
Non-offical bracelets were this year donated for presentation to the winner and runner-up by Howard Lederer and his wife Suzie, a gesture that was very well received.
Amid much good-natured and often hilarious banter and MC activity from comedian Brad Garrett, this year's event was concluded Saturday evening with Phil Gordon declared the winner of the $130,641 first prize, which he immediately pledged back to the charity in a warmly applauded and generous donation.
Last year Gordon finished deep in the final table for the charity event, and on that occasion too he donated all his winnings.
Shannon Elizabeth finished as runner up for $80,737.
Source: InfoPowa News