The action continues at the Rio in Las Vegas, with 10 winners already in the books at the 2019 World Series of Poker. Some big names are making waves by running deep in the early days of the series.
As play continues through the weekend, here’s a look at some of the storylines this week.
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WSOP heads-up specialist John Smith at it again
Anyone who follows the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship will recognize one name that stands out in the field: John Smith. The 72-year-old Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient from the Los Angeles area is a regular in this event.
Smith owns a road construction company and plays recreationally. He finished 11th in 2014, then runner-up in 2016 and 2017.
He has made it to the round of 16 this year so far. In doing so, Smith defeated Scott Sevier, David Rentzsch and Mark Burford.
While he may play a very limited number of events each year, Smith continues to find success. In March, he took fifth in the $10,000 WPT LA Poker Classic for $267,400.
For his skills at the table, Smith has gained plenty of respect in an event that features many well-known pros. As Seiver tweeted:
If I’m going to lose in the HU tournament to anyone, at least it was to the GOAT. Congrats to John Smith.
— Scott Seiver (@scott_seiver) June 6, 2019
New Jersey player wins, leads WSOP POY standings
Several New Jersey players are making strong showings at this year’s WSOP. Here are some of the bigger splashes from the Garden State.
Lowball poker isn’t the game of choice for most players, but Dan Zack has a sixth sense for the lowdown. The player from Princeton, N.J., took down the $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw event on Monday for his first bracelet.
Zack topped a field of 296 players for a score of $160,447. Late in the tournament, the cards just fell his way – building a chip stack twice that of his nearest competitor. With two tables left, he remembers winning nine of 11 hands at one point.
With cashes in the $10,000 and $1,000 Super Turbo events, Zack leads the Player of the Year standings. He’s hoping to keep it that way and take the title.
“When I’ve come here for the last three years, I always came in, for the first week or so, with the plan to do that,” he told WSOP.com. “And then if I didn’t do anything the first week, I usually ended up in cash games.”
Zack is not the only New Jersey bracelet winner so far. Last week, Yong Kwon won a $400 WSOP online event for $165,263 in a final table with Phil Hellmuth.
Big field, low buy-in madness at the WSOP
The Big 50
Low buy-in, massive field poker continued this week. The Big 50 began last Thursday and set a record for its field of 28,371 entries.
With 126 players remaining, five-time bracelet winner Allen Cunningham sat 14th in chips. Others remaining include Lee Childs, Jason Wheeler, Andrei Konopelko and Daniel Gamer.
The final table should finally play out on Friday. The winner takes home over $1.1 million – impressive for only a $500 buy-in.
$600 NLHE Deepstack
Another big field event wrapped up Wednesday – the $600 NLHE Deepstack attracted 6,150 entries. Jeremy Pekarek, of Sycamore, Ill., took the title for $398,281 and his first bracelet.
The event brought plenty of players to the Rio this week. Some were pleased to see the vast turnouts. Others, like Daniel Negreanu, were left a bit frazzled.
VLOG Day 7 – Day 2 of the $600 Deepstack was a logistical nightmare and had me losing my mind!https://t.co/tph5P4KOZX
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) June 5, 2019
On the button: WSOP events wrapping up soon
This event features several big names looking for a bracelet. That includes Shannon Shorr, Maria Ho, Ali Imsirovic and Daniel Strelitz.
Ho is fresh off a WPT televised final table appearance last week in Las Vegas. She came up just short of a title, taking third for $344,960, and now has a shot at her first bracelet.
Imsirovic already has one big finish in the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty, finishing runner-up for $213,644.
The final table plays out Thursday and will be streamed by PokerGO and CBS All Access (4 p.m. PST). The winner takes home $442,385.
$1,500 2-7 No Limit Lowball Draw
A member of the 2016 November Nine, Jerry Wong, sits second in chips with six players left. He took eighth that year in the Main Event for $1.1 million and looks for a bracelet now.
Just last week Wong also played at a WPT television final table in Las Vegas. He took fourth in the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $257,815 – not a bad week.
Finally, a word about WSOP online play in New Jersey
The next event is the $600 Pot Limit Omaha Six-Handed event on Sunday. If players from New Jersey are allowed to play, expect a much bigger prize pool that what would have been.