Mark Radoja has taken the World Series of Poker’s Event #24, the $5k NLHE Shootout. The 25-year-old Canadian survived a 387-strong field to earn his first ever WSOP bracelet and over $436k. It almost didn’t happen, as Radoja was very nearly eliminated by Yasuhiro Waki in the second round of play. At one point Radoja held an 11-1 chip lead, only to see Waki reverse those numbers before Radoja’s luck returned and he was able to put Waki down for the count. Radoja ultimately defeated Jeffrey Gross in heads-up play. Gross earned $269k for his runner-up finish, his seventh WSOP cash.
Radoja is the second Canuck to take a bracelet at the 2011 WSOP, after Tyler Bonkowski took Event #14 last week. We’d be remiss in pointing out that no one rioted following Radoja’s triumph, proof that if the world will just let Canadians take home all the trophies, nobody gets hurt, okay? Radoja even weighed in on the WSOP’s controversial ‘excessive celebration’ rule, saying it’s “absolutely unacceptable that people can’t celebrate. This is what creates the ratings. It is so good for the sport. When somebody celebrates, they aren’t celebrating against me, they’re celebrating for themselves.” Just like the Vancouver rioters weren’t really angry at those department stores and police cars, they were really angry with themselves for supporting such a bunch of puck chokers.
Chris Viox is certainly celebrating after defeating 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Mike Sexton heads-up to take Event #25, the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo. After starting from a field of 606, this event marked the first time this year that the hard-stop rule called a halt to heads-up play, with both players forced to adjourn late Thursday night/early Friday morning. When they reconvened Friday afternoon, it took only an hour for Viox to triumph, earning his first career bracelet and $200k. Sexton, who won this event in 1989, takes home $123k for what was his 50th WSOP cash.
As we near the halfway mark of the 2011 tourney, WSOP organizers have announced that attendance is up 9.2% over 2010, and the prize pool has risen 6%. Does this mean we’re heading for a record Main Event field when it gets underway July 7? If last year’s field of 7,319 increased by 9.2%, we’d see an additional 673 players take part, for a total of 7,992. That would still be shy of 2006’s all-time high of 8,773, but as a wise man once said, that’s why they play the games, so we’ll have to wait and see.