While most of the World Series of Poker media attention is focused on the Main Event, there were still a couple more preliminary bracelets to be handed out. Hasan Anter has taken Event #56, the final $1,500 NLHE Championship, outlasting a field of 3,389 players to earn his first ever shiny gold bracelet and $778k. The final hand between Anter and runner-up Nemer Haddad was decided on the turn, when the four of spades gave Anter a flush. However, to make things official, the dealer delivered a Jack of spades on the river, giving Anter a royal flush – making Anter the only 2011 WSOP champ to earn his title with poker’s royal hand. Haddad may not have ended up on the throne, but he probably feels fairly princely, having earned $479k for finishing second.
Event #57 went to Nick Binger, who saw off 351 other players to take the $5k PLO Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship. After three days of play, including a final table featuring the likes of Phil Laak and Nick Schulman, Binger and runner-up David Bach returned for a fourth day (at least, one hour’s worth) of heads-up action. In the end, Bach took home $245k while Binger earned $397k, his first bracelet and familial bragging rights. In his post-victory interview, Binger was asked whether his triumph meant he was a better player than brother Michael, who finished third overall in the 2006 WSOP Main Event. Nick’s response? “Yes.”
Day 1a of the 2011 Main Event saw 897 players take their seats, with 556 of them moving on to Day 2, including chip leader Fred Berger at 209,500, the only player to top the 200k mark. Friday’s Day 1b saw 978 players drop $10k at registration, putting the two-day total at 1,875 (off 28% from 2010). The WSOP’s Ty Stewart is still predicting around 6,500 players will take part (compared to 7,319 last year), meaning 2k+ players need to walk through the Rio’s doors on each of the final two days of Day 1.
No matter how many players eventually show up, none of them will be wearing hats with logos emblazoned across the front. PokerStars, Full Tilt, Wal-Mart… The company itself doesn’t matter. Hat logos are no-go’s. So is Naomi Klein now running the WSOP, or is tournament owner Caesars Entertainment just being territorial? Neither, says WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky, who claims it’s all about those pesky European TV broadcasters and their crazy rules about commercial endorsements. Yet logos on t-shirts are okay, so long as there’s only one and it doesn’t exceed 9” x 12”. Confused yet? So was Phil Hellmuth, who was asked this week to doff his cap because it featured the logo of neighboring casino Aria.
While your WSOP hat options may have shrunk, your ability to wager on the WSOP’s outcome with local sportsbooks just took a great leap forward. The Wynn Las Vegas is taking bets on the Main Event this year, the first non-sporting wagers to be offered by Nevada books since the state’s gaming regulators loosened the restrictions in January. Wynn bookie Johnny Avello told the Associated Press that he’d accept wagers up to $10k on everything from the ultimate winner to whether a woman would finish higher than 40th. Welcome to the 20th century, Nevada.