As the 2012 World Series of Poker prepares for the kickoff of the Main Event at noon on Saturday, organizers are still handing out bracelets for the prelims. Friday saw Gregory Merson win Event #57, the $10k NLHE Six-Handed, earning his first bracelet and a handsome $1.136m for outlasting 473 other entrants over three long days and one very short one. Heads-up play against Keith Lehr was stopped late Thursday night, but when play resumed Friday it took all of one hand – Merson’s straight to Lehr’s two pair – for Lehr to bow out with his $701k consolation prize. The rest of the final table finished thus: Shannon Shorr ($455k); Edward Sabat ($300k); Christopher Brammer ($200k) and Andrew Lichtenberger ($140k).
Another four-day slog earned Viacheslav Zhukov his second bracelet in as many years by winning Event #58, the $3k PLO Hi-Lo. The 23-year-old Zhukov overcame a 526-strong field to earn $330k, his first cash of the 2012 tourney. Zhukov’s 2011 bracelet also came in an Omaha Hi-Lo, so perhaps he’ll save some money next year and steer clear of the other events. Roch Cousineau took $204k for finishing second, while Chris Bell earned $135k for third and David ‘ODB’ Baker added another $100k to his 2012 tourney total by finishing fourth.
Day 2 of Event #59, the $1k NLHE, saw the mammoth 4,620-strong field reduced to a mere 51. Alex Cordero holds a slim chip advantage over Franklin Johnson (822k to 789k) with Dimitri Holdeew further back at 593k. Day 2 of Event #60, the $10k 2-7 Draw Lowball, saw the original 101 entrants reduced to the final 10, leaving Ashton Griffin as chip-daddy with 638k, Nick Schulman second with 558k and John Juanda third with 363k. Sadly, Konstantin Puchkov finished just out of the money, spoiling his chance to set a WSOP record by cashing 11 times in a single year. That just leaves the Main Event for Puchkov to make history.
This year’s Main Event will see the traditional four starting days compressed into three, thanks to organizers having crammed some extra tables into a few more nooks, crannies and the odd bathroom cubicle at the Rio so they can now accommodate 5,000 players at a time. This year’s tourney has, through 60 events, notched 68,168 entrants, leaving it 7,504 off 2011’s total of 75,672. Topping that number would also mean eclipsing last year’s Main Event, which attracted a field of 6,865. We won’t know the final tallies until Monday, when Day 1c is in the books. Like Janet Jackson preparing for a comeback, the Main Event will shed weight until July 16, when the final nine players are identified, followed by a three-and-a-half-month wait until final table action begins October 28 and a winner is crowned on Oct. 30 (Devil’s Night) or Oct. 31 (Halloween). Depending on the day, the winner will have (a) money to burn or (b) all the millions necessary to complete that C. Montgomery Burns costume.