WSOP 2019: Thai Ha and Anson Tsang make deep run in Short-Deck and the $50k ends with controversy

With some of the early events now completed, the 2019 WSOP schedule is in full flow heading into the second week. The action will now be non-stop across multiple events until the fabled Main Event on July 3rd, and then beyond. There are 89 events scheduled this summer, with the final one kicking off on July 15th, so we still have a lot of poker to play.

Here is how the action has been shaping up in the last couple of days.

Event #8: Alex Epstein wins the Short Deck; Strong finishes for Tai Ha and Anson Tsang

Alex Epstein Cover
Alex Epstein –

In our previous update we mentioned the high-flying Asian players making a deep run in the Short-Deck event. The curtain has now come down on that event, with Alex Epstein outlasting this modest sized field of 114 to take home the bracelet and $296,227 prize money.

Thai Ha, who is listed under a Vietnamese flag on Hendon Mob and sits 2nd on Vietnam’s national all-time money list, ran the American close, but could not claim the ultimate prize. Thai Ha resides in the US, but frequently travels to Vietnam, recently making a deep run at WPT Vietnam.

Anson Tsnag WSOP 2019
Anson Tsang

Hong Kong’s Anson Tsang is another player who made a deep run in this event, looking strong at the close of play during our last update. He could not make the final step onto the top of the podium however and must settle for 3rd place.

These two players represent an exciting start for Asian hopes at the series, but they are not alone in that endeavour. There is a Chinese contingent of players looking to have a breakthrough year in Vegas in 2019, and one of them, Yong Wang, final tabled the Short Deck event, finishing 6th. It should come as no surprise to see more Chinese players making final tables during this series.

Final table payouts

1st – Alex Epstein – $296,227
2nd – Thai Ha – $183,081
3rd – Anson Tsang – $130,482
4th – Chance Kornuth – $93,593
5th – Rene van Krevelen – $67,566
6th – Yong Wang – $49,095
7th – Andrew Robl – $35,907

Event #10: Naoya Kihara  goes close, Scott Clements claims victory

Scott Clement
Scott Clements – Photo WSOP

Sticking with the topic of Asian players starting the series well, Japan’s most famous player has been busy coming very close to adding his second career bracelet in event 10, the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice. Scott Clements eventually went on to take the event down for $144,957, claiming his third bracelet, but Naoya Kihara managed a creditable 4th place and $39,377.

Final table payouts

Scott Clements – $144,957
Tim McDermott – $89,567
Mike Ross – $58,718
Naoya Kihara – $39,377
Wes Self – $27,027
Benny Glaser – $18,996

Event #3: Ben Heath wins the $50K High Roller; Soverel causes contention

Ben Heath EV03
Ben Heath – Photo WSOP

Meanwhile, over in the $50K High Roller event which was added to the schedule in honour of the WSOP’s 50th anniversary, the final table provided fans with several recognisable faces, along with Ben Heath. Of the final six players, Heath was the only one who had never won a bracelet, but did not let it show, putting in a controlled, mature performance to take command of the event and then wrap things up.

The event became a big talking point at the series after eventual 3rd place finisher Sam Soverel caused controversy with a muck issue. After an open from Soverel and a shove from Dmitry Yurasov, Ben Heath went into the tank. After a short think, he tossed out a time bank chip and Soverel immediately folded out of turn. Ben Heath called with AQ and won the hand.

You could argue that Soverel thought a chip was tossed in to call, rather than add time, and he certainly did argue that, but many in the poker world claim he has a history of unethical behaviour and that they feel certain his play was intentional. Ike Haxton claimed he was “99% sure he did it on purpose” and went on to explain in a tweet the reasons he felt sure, before advocating a disqualification and a one year ban from WSOP events for Soverel.

Final table payouts:

1st – Ben Heath -$1,484,085
2nd – Andrew Lichtenberger – $917,232
3rd – Sam Soverel – $640,924
4th – Dmitry Yurasov – $458,138
5th – Nick Petrangelo – $335,181
6th – Chance Kornuth – $251,128
7th – Elio Fox – $192,794
8th – Cary Katz – $151,755
9th – David Einhorn – $122,551

Other bracelet winners

Event 4 – $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better
Prize pool: $1,151,550
Entries: 853
Winner: Derek McMaster – $228,228

Event 6 – $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw
Prize Pool: $666,000
Entries: 296
Winner: Dan Zack – $160,477

Event 7 – $400 WSOP Online NLH
Prize Pool: $1,017,000
Entries: 2,825
Winner: Yong “LuckySpewy1” Keun Kwon – $165,263

Event 12 – $1,000 NLH Super Turbo Bounty
Prize Pool: $1,471,200
Entries: 2,452
Winner: Daniel Park – $226,243

Article by Craig Bradshaw