The 2012 World Series of Poker bracelet cherry was officially popped Monday by Chiab Saechao, who earned just shy of $70k for taking the Series’ first contest, the Casino Employees Championship. The Thailand-born, California-raised blackjack dealer Saechao was one of 732 casino grunts who did battle, down about 15% from last year’s 850. Saecho’s victory prevented what would have been the first female to win a bracelet for something other than the ladies event in three years. Florida’s Trish Baker settled for a runner-up spot (and $43.7k) after a dramatic final hand in which her straight was drowned by Saechao’s flush. Still, it’s the best performance ever for a woman in the Employees event, and Baker herself admitted she “couldn’t have made this much money dealing.”
The last female to win an open event bracelet, Vanessa Selbst, is still in the hunt in Event #2, the $1,500 NLHE. With Day 2 officially completed, Selbst is sitting in fifth place among the remaining 15 players with 706k chips. Ahead of her are JP Kelly (721k), Abdyl Konjuhi (754k), Ryan Schmidt (1.193m) and chip leader Jacob Bazeley (1.291m). There’s also a lone female still alive in Event #3, the first-ever $3k Heads Up NLHE/PLO. Annette Obrestad will be among the 64 remaining players (from 317) that will resume the fight on Wednesday.
The first open event of the 2012 WSOP brought out 2,101 players, making Event #2 the smallest $1,500 NLHE since 2010. But looming large was the presence of Phil Ivey, making his return to the WSOP following a self-imposed sabbatical from the 2011 get-together. His return was short-lived, however, as the eight-time bracelet winner was knocked out early on by Maria Ho. As Day 1 winds down on Event #4, the $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better, Ivey remains in the hunt, along with about 200 of the original 622 entrants.
Also still alive in Event #4 is another Phil (some guy named Hellmuth). Earlier on Tuesday, Hellmuth was eliminated from Event #2 in 61st place, leaving him still seeking that elusive 12th bracelet. Still, the $7k prize increased his WSOP cash total to 86; 14 more than closest competitor Men Nguyen. Phil’s still got another $180k or so to catch Joe Hachem on the all-time money list, though.
Lest we forget, Marcelo Ramos Da Fonseca won the 2012 Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) Punta del Este main event in Uruguay. The Brazilian outlasted a 375-strong field over four days of play to earn $144k via a three-handed deal with eventual runner-up Angel Guillen ($126k) and third-place finisher. Francisco Baruffi Neto ($116k). Next on the LAPT itinerary is the Colombia National Poker Championship starting Aug. 7.