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2024 WSOP: United States Continue to Dominate; Australia Enters the Fray

World Series of Poker - WSOP 2024
World Series of Poker – WSOP 2024 – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

The first week of the 2024 World Series of Poker has been completed and nearly one dozen players have lifted the highly sought-after gold bracelet for the winner shots. Several players from Asia have come close to victory these past few days, but the wait for a first winner during the summer camp continues. Let’s have a closer look at the latest results with three well-known poker pros  earning repeat victories throughout Event #11 at the Horseshoe and Paris Las Vegas.

2024 WSOP: Event #4 – Event #11

James Chen Gets Redemption in Event #4: $1,500 Omaha 8 or Better

 The name James Chen certainly rings a bell for poker enthusiasts in Asia, as he sits in first place of Taiwan’s all-time money list with more than $10.7 million in live poker cashes. He has also been active during the 2024 WSOP already but it was his namesake from Pittsburgh, USA to win his first WSOP gold bracelet.

James Chen at 2024 WSOP
James Chen – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Funnily enough, both James Chen prefer the four-card Omaha variant and have also shared the tables in Las Vegas before. One year ago, the US player finished second to Ben Lamb in the $10,000 Omaha 8 or Better Championship but went one spot better in WSOP Event #4: $1,500 Omaha 8 or Better this time. The tournament drew 928 entries for a prize pool of $1,238,880 and Chen earned $209,350 from it.

From the top 28 finishers, only two were from outside of the US and the highest-placed Asia-Pacific contender was Aussie Ashish Gupta in 29th place for $6,740. Hang Xu from China finished in 51st place for $4,311 while Jamie Kerstetter reached the unofficial final table and busted in ninth place for $15,920.

Aussie Aussie Aussie – Malcolm Trayner Wins Bracelet in First WSOP Event

Malcolm Traynor at 2024 WSOP
Malcolm Traynor – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Recreational players and poker pros alike had their eyes set on Event #5: $1,000 Mystery Millions, as it not only promised a gargantuan field and prize pool but also two $1 million bounties up for grabs. Two years ago, Patrick Liang was among the lucky winners to earn that impressive figure for making it to Day 2 and scoring a knockout.

The 18,409 entries were the biggest for this tournament so far and they generated a massive prize pool of $16,199,920. Once all starting days were completed, the hunt for the bounties commenced and Valentyn Shabelnyk as well as DJ Buckley nabbed the golden envelopes, while Roberto Romanello snatched the second-highest prize of $500,000 via mystery bounty.

Valentyn Shabelnyk at WSOP
Valentyn Shabelnyk – Photo by pokerGO

Several Asian players reached the top 100 in this huge turnout. Natural8 ambassador Kitty Kuo finished in 91st place for $8,170 while China’s Bingjie Wang made the pay jump to $9,640. Nobuaki Sasaki made it even further and earned $13,680 for his 69th place, while Dong Chen bowed out in 59th for $16,450 with fellow Chinese Lian Siqi earning the same amount in 56th place.

Another two Chinese players followed in Yake Wu (48th place for $19,900) and Pei Li (15th place for $45,310). The final table was an American affair with one exception: Aussie Malcolm Trayner participated in his first WSOP tournament but already had plenty of experience from home soil and online poker at his disposal. Trayner went all the way after defeating Carson Richards in heads-up to become the third player to earn $1,000,000 in cash – his bounty earnings are unknown for the time being.

Darius Samual is the New Heads-Up Champion

Darius Samual at WSOP
Darius Samual – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

The first Championship Event of the 2024 WSOP has found a winner in the UK’s Darius Samual. In Event #6: $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship, the 64-entry bracket sold out for a prize pool of $1,504,000 and the top eight finishers earned a slice of it. No Asian players reached the money stages and old-school heads-up legend John Smith bowed out in the quarter finals for $86,000.

Rising Russian star Artur Martirosian was chasing a third WSOP bracelet but lost his heads-up duel against Darius Samual to settle for $180,000. Poker coach Faraz Jaka defeated Nikolai Mamut and faced Samual in the final duel for a shot at a second WSOP gold bracelet in as many years. However, it was the Brit who came out on top for $500,000 while Jaka had to settle for $300,000 as the runner-up.

Apparently, Samual had invested half of his bankroll for this shot and it certainly paid off!

It is Always Coming Seven – John Hennigan Wins Another Bracelet

John Hennigan at WSOP
John Hennigan a- Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Only nine players have won at least nine WSOP gold bracelets and John Hennigan is the latest to achieve this feat. In Event #7: $1,500 Dealer’s Choice, a field of 530 entries generated a prize pool of $707,550 and the top 80 players earned a slice of it. Three players from Asia cashed in the tournament but were not in contention during the late stages. Yueqi Zhu “Rich” (78th for $3,017), Yingui Li (60th for $3,017), and Kuen Wai Lo “Jeffrey” (44th for $3,353).

Five-time bracelet winner Benny Glaser bowed out in 24th place for $4,779 while Jeff Madsen fell on the final two tables in 12th place for $6,998. Shaun Deeb was denied a potential seventh victory when he bubbled the unofficial final table and cashed for $11,422. Online legend Viktor Blom “Isildur1” finished in fourth place for $41,237 and from there on, there was no stopping for Hennigan anymore.

He mainly picked Seven Card Stud in which he has a lot of experience and the UK’s Robert Wells was unable to overcome a large chip deficit in heads-up to settle for $90,339. Hennigan picked up bracelet number seven and the top prize of $138,296 – he is also in the WSOP Hall of Fame.

Bryce Yockey Wins Second Gold Bracelet

Bryce Yockey at WSOP
Bryce Yockey – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Four cards are more fun than two, and that is certainly the motto of American poker pro Bryce Yockey now. He topped a 733-entry strong field in Event #8: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (8-Handed) and earned the biggest slice of the $3,371,000 prize pool after overcoming the always dangerous Farid Jattin from Colombia in heads-up. Jattin was denied the victory once again and had to settle for a consolation prize worth $404,430 while Yockey won his second bracelet and $606,654.

China’s Tong Li was among the top 110 finishers in the money and earned the min-cash of $10,000. Hong Kong / Spanish Omaha specialist Ka Kwan Lau received the same amount for 76th place while Australian Poker Hall of Famer Gary Benson finished in 46th place for $14,129. Fellow Aussie Najeem Ajez cashed for $19,566 and the same cash prize was awarded to China’s Yang Wang in 25th place.

Three time WSOP bracelet winner Yan Shing Tsang “Anson” reached the final three tables and ultimately bowed out in 17th place for $23,677, but he has already cashed in four events during the series so far in the first week. Japan’s Naoya Kihara had a strong showing and made it to ninth place for $46,575., while Joao Simao and Joao Vieira were among the international big names to bust thereafter.

Nick Guagenti Joins Two-Time Winner’s Club

Nick Guagenti at WSOP
Nick Guagenti – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

American mixed game specialist Nick Guagenti has earned his second WSOP gold bracelet in Event #9: $1,500 Limit Hold’em (8-Handed). The tournament attracted a field of 434 entries for a prize pool of $591,405 and the top 67 finishers earned at least $3,014 for their efforts.

While most of those in the money were from the US, three players from Asia also showcased their talents as well. Jeffrey Lo busted in 45th place for $3,164 and Taiwan’s JJ Liu reached the final three tables, bowing out in 23rd place for $4,590. Hong Kong’s Edward Yam made it even further and narrowly missed the final table, finishing in 11th place for $6,722.

The final table featured two WSOP bracelet winners in Guagenti and Finnish poker legend Juha Helppi. The latter was hoping for a third title but bowed out in fourth place for $37,880. Guagenti doubled his tally in an all-American heads-up duel with Joseph Brodsky and earned the top prize of $121,074.

Scott Seiver Focuses on Tournaments – Wins Fifth Bracelet

Scott Seiver at WSOP
Scott Seiver – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

During the World Series of Poker, Scott Seiver usually focused on high-stakes cash games during the last few years but switched his focus to tournaments in 2024. This instantly paid off as he won his fifth WSOP gold bracelet in Event #10, the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship.

The second Championship Event of the year in Las Vegas drew 197 entries and 30 players earned a portion of the $1,832,100. As far as Asian poker players are concerned, only one of them made it into the money. Naoya Kihara had another deep run and finished in 16th spot for $21,325, one place ahead of new seven-time winner John Hennigan.

Robert Mizrachi and John Racener were eliminated prior to the final table with big names such as Jared Bleznick, and Jake Schwartz following thereafter. Benny Glaser missed out on a possible sixth bracelet for now and finished in sixth place for $75,678. Four-time champion Calvin Anderson made it to third place for $197,582 to set up the duel between Jonathan Cohen and Seiver.

Cohen won his first bracelet in 2022 but was denied a second title this time, having to settle for $284,495. For Seiver, the new-found love for tournaments paid off with another victory and top prize of $426,744 – enough to jump back into Bobby’s Room later in the year again.

David Prociak Runs Best in Badugi – Edward Yam Third

David Prociak at WSOP
David Prociak – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Various poker variants rarely pop up on the international poker scene and one of them is Badugi, a draw game with three betting streets. The bargain edition for this poker game type emerged in Event #11: $1,500 Badugi, which brought with it 487 entries and a prize pool of $650,145.

With the new payout structure as of this summer, the min-cash was set for $3,000 and 74 players earned at least that much for their efforts including Dohak Kim from South Korea. From there on, it was a long scrolling to the top to find further Asian players in the money. Hanh Tran is from Austria despite the Vietnamese sounding name and finished in 16th place for $6,548.

Edward Yam at WSOP
Edward Yam – Photo by WSOP / Pokernews

Japan’s Yuya Murata reached the unofficial seven-handed final table but became the first casualty for $14,190. Edward Yam had his second deep run of the series and bowed out in third place after a topsy-turvy affair for $56,508. In an all-American heads-up duel, Matt Grapenthien and David Prociak were both vying to win their second bracelet. Prociak had finished as the runner-up two times during the 2023 WSOP but didn’t suffer the same fate again – he won bracelet number two for $129,676 while Grapenthien had to settle for $84,650.

Upcoming highlights in the second week of the 2024 WSOP include the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship, the $300 Gladiators of Poker, Event #21: $25,000 High Roller Six-Handed and the respective 8-Handed edition to name all but a few.

*Article by Christian Zetzsche

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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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