2021 WSOP underway: Jesse Klein outlasts the elite in $25K H.O.R.S.E; Jeremy Ausmus locks up second career bracelet; maiden victory for James Barnett

After a one year interruption, the highly awaited 52nd World Series of Poker is finally underway in Las Vegas. Games kicked off at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino on September 30 and will run through November 23. Despite the vaccine mandate, the first three days have already produced promising numbers and will only get bigger as more players are expected within the coming weeks. Among those getting an early dose were some of the world’s elite players looking to seize one of the 88 gold bracelets. Taiwanese pro Pete Chen was also in the hunt. Emerging the richest was Jesse Klein after taking down the star studded $25K H.O.R.S.E for over half a million dollars, Jeremy Ausmus locked up his second career gold bracelet at the Charity Relief event, and James Barnett won his first at the Casino Employees event. 

wsop covid update
Photo Credit – WSOP

2021 WSOP Tally

Event #1 – #3 prize pool: US$ 2,250,130
Cumulative entries: 763
Largest prize pool: Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E – US$ 1,842,750
Largest payout: Jesse Klein – US$ 552,182
First time bracelet winners: 2
Second career bracelet won: Jeremy Ausmus

*Information based from, PokerNews live updates, and The Hendon Mob.  

Event #2: $25,000 H.O.R.S.E. – JESSE KLEIN – US$ 552,182

Jesse Klein, Photo Credit – WSOP

The most expensive tournament of opening weekend was the three day high roller H.O.R.S.E event with buy in at US$ 25,000. The five game mixed format was a favorite among the world’s elite and high stakes players as they showcased their skills in Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better. The event saw 78 pull up seats for a prize pool of US$ 1,842,750. The lineup included multiple bracelet holders Shaun Deeb, Eli Elezra, Mike Matusow, Brian Rast, Adam Friedman, and Anthony Zinno, however all failed to reach the money round. On the flip side, first to cash were Cary Katz and 6x bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu who missed the final table by one spot. The chase culminated in Day 3 with recreational player Jesse Klein defeating 3x bracelet winner Benny Glaser at Seven Card Stud to capture his first ever gold bracelet and a substantial US$ 552,182 payout. Prior to the win, Klein only had two WSOP Circuit cashes amounting to US$ 15,319. Interviewed by PokerNews after his win, Klein said, 

“I just came out here to play this event and go home Sunday. I have a wife and two kids – a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old son. I came out here to play this event and that’s it. Maybe I’ll come back out here since I won this.”

Recapping Klein’s victory run, he entered the final table running second in chips with Glaser up top. Also on the round were several players boasting WSOP blings including 15x bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth. Klein had a rough start, losing two big pots against 3x bracelet winner Ben Yu to drop down to the shortest stack. He slowly recovered and eventually took the lead after winning a series of pots that started with the elimination of Yu in 7th place followed by  chunking both Chad Eveslage and Hellmuth, who reportedly walked away fuming. At four handed, Glaser finished off Eveslage to regain the top spot but proceeded to lose two Razz hands against Klein to give up command. With a sizable advantage, Klein continued to rise which in turn sent both Glaser and bracelet winner David Benyamine crashing. Klein drained out Benyamine in 3rd place and emptied Glaser at Seven Card Stud with two pair over a pair to win the coveted bracelet and massive first prize. 

Date: September 30 – October 2, 2021
Buy in: US$ 25,000
Entries: 78
Prize pool: US$ 1,842,750
ITM: 12 places


1st Jesse Klein – USA – US$ 552,182
2nd Benny Glaser – UK – US$ 341,274
3rd David Benyamine – France – US$ 236,626
4th Chad Eveslage – USA – US$ 169,218
5th Philip Sternheimer – UK – US$ 124,935
6th Phil Hellmuth – USA – US$ 95,329
7th Ben Yu – USA – US$ 75,260
8th DJ Buckley – USA – US$ 61,549
9th Matt Glantz – USA – US$ 52,211
10th Daniel Negreanu – Canada – US$ 46,002
11th Roland Israelashvili – USA – US$ 46,002
12th Cary Katz – USA – US$ 42,162

Event #3: $1,000 Covid-19 Charity Relief – JEREMY AUSMUS – US$ 48,687

2021 WSOP Ev3 Winner
Jeremy Ausmus, Photo Credit – WSOP

The more affordable event on opening weekend was the $1,000 Covid-19 Charity Relief which pulled in 260 to the felt for a prize pool of US$ 231,400. The turbo format made for a quick finish with Jeremy Ausmus locking up a career second gold bracelet and US$ 48,687. Ausmus is a regular at the annual series with cashes dating back to 2010. To date, he has racked up over US$ 4 Million in winnings with the bulk of it earned at the 2012 WSOP $10,000 Main Event where he placed 5th for US$ 2,155,313. He also has two WSOPE cashes, of which one was a victory at the 2013 WSOPE €1,650 Pot Limit Omaha for his first gold bracelet. 

The two day event drew some notable players including 2013 WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess and Taiwanese pro Pete Chen. Riess failed to cash while Chen raced to 17th place for US$ 2,077. Australian player/ WSOP ring winner Peter Dykes finished two notches up in 15th place for US$ 2,276. The final table opened with a few bracelet winners Ausmus, Mitchell Halverson, and Steve Gross, all seeking their second gold strap. On Day 2, only five remained. Ring winner Jesse Lonis ran hot, railing short stacked Gross, Asher Conniff, and Mitchell Halverson. He entered heads up on a 3:1 chip advantage against Ausmus but couldn’t close it out. Instead, Ausmus doubled up to slightly edge Lonis then shipped it with Ac9c over Kh9h on a dry board. 

Date: September 30 – October 1
Buy in: US$ 1,000
Entries: 260
Prize pool: US$ 231,400
ITM: 39 places

Final table payouts

1st Jeremy Ausmus – USA – US$ 48,687
2nd Jesse Lonis – USA – US$ 30,086
3rd Mitchell Halverson – USA – US$ 20,541
4th Asher Conniff – USA – US$ 14,386
5th Steve Gross – USA – US$ 10,342
6th Liran Betito – Israel – US$ 7,637
7th Craig Mason – USA – US$ 5,798
8th Evgeni Tourevski – USA – US$ 4,528

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees NLH – JAMES BARNETT – US$ 39,013

James Barnett Cover
James Barnett, Photo Credit – WSOP/ PokerNews

Kicking off the action was the $500 Casino Employees NLH with 419 signing up for a prize pool of US$ 175,980. Dream come true for Caesars Palace employee James Barnett who overcame a swingy final table, bulldozing six players to lift his first WSOP gold bracelet and a cool US$ 39,013. Prior to the win, Barnett had five WSOP cashes which brought his total earnings to US$ 50,151. Interviewed by PokerNews after his win, Barnett expressed,

“Special. I think it’s on every poker player’s bucket list. It’s just special. My father passed away a handful of years ago from cancer. We would come out here and play all the time. My grandma just passed away three weeks ago. I posted on Facebook I was going to win a tournament for her, and to win a WSOP tournament, it’s special. I haven’t been happier. I could have lost this and it would’ve hurt obviously, but I get to play a game for fun. I get to work at Caesars where I would stay growing up. I really am living the dream. I’m one of the luckiest people you’ll know because I have great friends, family, and doing something I love. It’s work but it’s not, it’s awesome. To win this is just the icing on the cake.”

Entering the final table, Barnett was running third in chips then quickly found himself at the top after railing Justin Steinman (10th) and Ronald Baltazar (9th). Two busts later, Barnett clipped another two, Robert Schmidt (6th) and Bryan Garrett (5th) to amass a towering lead. Suddenly the tide shifted. Barnett lost consecutive pots and dropped drastically to become the shortest stack. However, he caught a lucky break, cracking Jack Behrens’ pocket queens to double up with 9d8d straight. From there he picked up another big pot off Behrens to retake the lead, then claimed his fifth victim in Leo Abbe (4th). After Behrens booted Danny Chang (3rd), it was heads up with Barnett ahead in the count. Behrens caught up and the lead switched briefly. Barnett tugged back with uncalled shoves then nailed it shut with Jd2d flush over 10h8d two pair on a board Qd10d6d2c6c for his first ever WSOP title. 

Date: September 30 – October 1
Buy in: US$ 500
Entries: 419
Prize pool: US$ 175,980
ITM: 63 places

Final table payouts

1st James Barnett – USA – US$ 39,013
2nd Jack Behrens – USA – US$ 24,112
3rd Danny Chang – USA – US$ 16,540
4th Leo Abbe – USA – US$ 11,587
5th Bryan Garrett – USA – US$ 8,294
6th Robert Schmidt – USA – US$ 6,069
7th Christopher Minton – USA – US$ 4,542
8th Rico Cuevas – USA – US$ 3,478
9th Ronald Baltazar – USA – US$ 2,727
10th Justin Steinman – USA – US$ 2,191

Stay tuned to Somuchpoker as we bring you updates and recaps throughout the series. 

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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