Wednesday’s action at the 2012 World Series of Poker saw even more history than usual being made, as Naoya Kihara won Event #34, the $5k PLO Six-Handed. Not only did Kihara earn a handsome $512k and his first bracelet, he also has the distinct honor of becoming the first WSOP bracelet recipient from Japan. Kihara outlasted a 419-strong field over three days of play, personally dispatching the last four players at his table, including heads-up opponent Chris De Maci ($316k). Kihara said his home country would have better representation at international poker events if the live game wasn’t, you know, illegal in Japan. But so long as players keep grinding online, Kihara’s confident the “second and third and fourth bracelet holder should appear.”
Chris Tryba won Event #35, the $2,500 Mixed Hold’Em, earning $210k and his first WSOP blingy thingy for outlasting 392 opponents over three days. Tryba capped off his third career WSOP final table appearance with a bang, yelling out “Straight flush, baby!” after heads-up opponent Erik Cajelais went all-in with a king-high straight. Cajelais earned $129k for his second place finish.
Tryba’s triumph spoiled the Hollywood narrative surrounding Phil Ivey, who busted out in eighth place for $21k, making it five final tables without a bracelet for Ivey in 2012. (The anticipation surrounding each of Ivey’s final table appearances is starting to resemble the wait for Crispin Glover’s arm to come off in Hot Tub Time Machine.) The tension isn’t limited to fans and reporters. On Wednesday, Victory CEO Dan Fleyshman tweeted: “Phil Ivey stands to earn approxiametly [sic] $4,000,000 in side bets from poker players if he wins a @WSOP bracelet this summer…” Impossible to verify the accuracy of such a claim, but that doesn’t mean the IRS (or Phil’s ex-wife) won’t try…
The final table is set at Event #36, the $3k NLHE Shootout, with the field having shrunk from 587 to 10 in just two days. Antonio Esfandiari, Joe Tehan and Roberto Romanello are among the names who will fight for a bracelet on Thursday. Day 2 of Event #37, the $2,500 Eight-Game Mix, saw 27 survivors moving on to Day 3, with Joseph Couden as chip champ, with Rep Porter, Jerrod Ankenman (who won this event in 2009) and Jennifer Harman behind him. Day 1 of Event #38, the $1,500 NLHE, attracted 2,502 entrants, of whom 288 will be moving on to Day 2. Layne Flack is sitting pretty with nearly twice the stack of his nearest competitor Lauren Kling.
WSOP officials have yet to confirm the PTPRpoker.com rumor earlier this week by that poker pro/basketball bettor Haralabos Voulgaris will take part in the $1m buy-in Big One for One Drop event. Voulgaris reportedly purchased the seat won by Carlos Nahas late last month at the $25k Big One satellite at Le Grand Turnoi de Poker Loto-Québec. Nahas himself was playing on behalf of his friend Keith Hamilton, who won the satellite buy-in via a slot machine payout. (We’re really hoping someone crawls out of the woodwork claiming to have given Hamilton the money to feed the machine.) Voulgaris, whose career-high cash is a third-place finish worth $434k at the 2007 Borgata Poker Open, allegedly described the attraction of the Big One to PTPR thusly: “There are a lot of casual players entered in this tournament so I think it’s quite possible one of the highest EV tournaments ever.”