With less than a week to go until the start of the $10,000 world championship event (the “Main Event”), the 2018 World Series of Poker is beginning to see that the end is in sight. But there’s still plenty of preliminary action around the Rio, with two bracelets handed out on Wednesday, including one to a player who ran deep in another event previously this year.
Event #48 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack
The final day of the Monster Stack saw a monster field remain in the hunt for the title. Of the 6,260 entries, 29 were still alive at the start of the last day with Victor Rangel holding the lead. But, as would be the case throughout the day, the players wouldn’t be afraid to mix it up, which led to a rapid day of action at the Rio.
That action kicked off on the first hand as Chris Chong eliminated David Cabrera Polop’s short stack from the festivities. Only 10 minutes later, pro Aditya Agarwal was headed to the exits and the field redrew for three tables. Over the next four hours, those three tables became two (including the departure of Rangel) and another four hours of action would set the final table.
James Carroll came to the final table with the chip lead but with the flurry of action at the table, it was short-lived. Shyam Srinivasan, Chong and Francis Rusnak all would pass Carroll to hold the lead at one point or another, but it was Nguyen who would make it stick. He eliminated Srinivasan in seventh place, Chong in fourth and Rusnak in third to enter heads-up play against Carroll with a nine million chip lead.
Nguyen would never let Carroll get closer. Within 10 hands, he stretched his lead out to better than an 8:1 advantage and, although Carroll would get one double, he couldn’t mount an offensive to defeat Nguyen. On the final hand, Nguyen raised the betting and Carroll pushed in his remaining 14 million in chips. Nguyen immediately made the call, putting Big Slick up against Carroll’s thoroughly dominated K-2. Once the board ran out queen-high, Nguyen scooped the pot and the championship of the Monster Stack into his arms.
Event #52 - $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship
Limit Hold’em is the way many players once learned the game of poker. It is considered to be more of a mathematical game in which your actions are determined by what the cards are (compared to No-Limit Hold’em and its more psychological and artistic styling). Over the past few years, however, it seems to have fallen from favor – except for those players who vied for the championship of Limit Hold’em on Thursday night.
On Thursday afternoon, 14 players were left from the 114 who started the tournament, but it was a quality crowd. Previous WSOP bracelet winners Nick Schulman, Brock Parker, Anthony Zinno, Scott Seiver and Benny Glaser, along with freshly minted Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee Maria Ho, were all a part of the action. But it was Daniel Zack who was the only player over a million chips (1.217 million) as the final day began.
Limit Hold’em is NOT a fast game. It took two hours to work to the final table (after Glaser’s elimination in 10th place), but it would take NINE hours just to reach heads-up play between Seiver and Matt Szymaszek. That duo would then have an epic fight, with Szymaszek stretching out to a lead before Seiver fought back to take the edge. Then it was Szymaszek’s turn to battle back, coming off the felt (at one point, he only had 800,000 in chips) to retake the lead.
Over an hour of play saw the lead switch hands on several occasions until Seiver was able to string some hands together. After taking a slim edge, he would clip Szymaszek with two pair to pick up a nearly million chip pot before administering the coup de grace as the WSOP clock hit 2:30 a.m.
After Seiver four-flushed Szymaszek to leave him with scraps, both players saw a 6-J-9 rainbow flop and Szymaszek got his remaining chips in. He thought he was in good shape with his 8-7 (open-ended straight draw), but he saw that many of his outs were gone due to Seiver’s K-Q (a 10 that would complete Szymaszek’s straight would give Seiver a bigger straight). A queen on the turn took away any pair outs and left Szymaszek looking for only a five that would complete his straight. That didn’t happen, however, as an ace on the river ended the tournament and crowned Seiver the champion early Thursday morning.