The 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship is the manifestation of extraordinary circumstances.
Every player, each decision, all the stories are truly unique. No two players, nor hands, nor strategic considerations are the same.
Consider two separate incidents from Wednesday, July 13th, 2016.
In midafternoon, highly-respected poker pro Kyle Bowker, who just won his first WSOP career gold bracelet a week ago, made one of the most astounding folds on record. Here’s the official log from WSOP.com which witnessed and then reported upon this extraordinary hand and course of events:
Kyle Bowker Folds Quads
According to Kyle Bowker, on a board reading K-9-7-7-J Bowker faces an all-in bet from his opponent. Bowker went deep into the tank and eventually had a clock called on him.
Before the clock hit zero, Bowker folded and showed 7-7 for turned quads. His opponent won the pot and the table began to discuss Bowker's huge fold.
Kyle Bowker -- 100,000
The opponent certainly could have had Q-T (of spaces), which is the only hand that could have beaten Bowker, holding four sevens. Still, very few players would have made the fold in that post. Indeed, the price for being in the wrong side of the guessing game would have been elimination. Incredibly, Bowker folded his quad-sevens and was still left with about 100,000 in chips. In the end, we shall never know if the opponent had the straight flush (Q-T of spaces), but what we do know is the Main Event creates some situations that happen nowhere else. This is the event in poker that separates the merely good from the great from the astoundingly exceptional.
On the other side of spectrum was the midday experience of William Hung, from television’s American Idol fame. The faux singer/performer appeared destined for an all-too early exit on Day 2 when his A-K ran into A-A in an all-in situation. Hung rose up from the table, prepared to walk away in what had been a noble effort to make a deep run up to that point. A king on the flop game Hung some life and sparked some hope. Then, when another king fell on the turn, Hung was beside himself and let out a loud squeal which could be heard throughout the tournament arena. Many players laughed, none louder than Hung, who had gotten lucky and dodged a bullet. He survived that hand and lived to play several more hands.
Those disparate episodes – an amazing fold at one table and w miraculous break at another table -- are what makes the WSOP so extraordinary. That said, poker’s world championship is more exceptional for some than others.
After 770 survivors moved one day closer on Day 2A/B to being in a position to win the 2016 world poker championship, another 1,416 survived Day 2C. That means 2,186 players combined are still alive in the Main Event Championship out of 6,737 original starters, which breaks down to about a third of the field.
WSOP Main Event Day 2C came to a relief for many at about 1:20 am on an early Thursday morning at the Rio in Las Vegas. There were 3,226 players who started this day with high hopes of fortune and fame to go along with a gold and diamond bracelet. Now, less than half of those who started this day remain in contention.
When the chips were bagged up at the end of the second of two playing sessions in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, Gustavo Lopes, from Brazil, was perched atop the leader board joining the previous day's chip leader.
Valentin Vornicu, from San Diego, enjoyed an astounding day on the green felt in Tuesday. He concluded his red-hot session with 838,600 in chips. By comparison, Lopez ended his playing session with 630,700 in chips. The player average was somewhere around 120,000 in chips, slightly more than double the starting stack from two days ago, which provided each entrant with 50,000 in chips.
Quite a few other poker players of note were eliminated in this day. Among the best-known players to see their 2016 Main Event Championship hopes and dreams come to an end were 2003 world champion Chris Moneymaker and 2005 champion Joe Hachem. Both former champs went out without making much of an impact on the Main Event. Others who had a tough time included former November Niner Dennis Phillips, Rainer Kempe, Owais Ahmed, Lief Force, Jeff Madsen, Vitaly Lunkin and Kyle Julius who each hit the rail.
Arguably, the most notable players to hit the rail on this day included Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Fedor Holz.
Former world champions who remain still alive from this session include – Phil Hellmuth, Ryan Reiss and Joe McKeehen, the defending champion.
The current leader board (top 100) includes – Valentin Vornicu (1st), Gustavo Lopes, Raffaele Moraes, and Albert Daher, That lineup is followed by the previous day’s list of survivors which includes Gaelle Bauman (10th in the 2012 Main Event), Marc Andre Ladouceur (a top Canadian pro), Michael Banducci (gold bracelet winner), Scott Montgomery (gold bracelet winner and fifth-place finisher in 2008 Main Event), Prahlad Friedman (gold bracelet winner), Maria Ho (poker ambassador and two-time last woman standing in Main Event), Garry Gates (former poker writer and executive), Jennifer Shahade (two time U.S. chess champion), Bertrand Grospellier (gold bracelet winner and video game icon), and Michael Gathy (three-time gold bracelet winner who picked up his third win at this year's series).
Other notables who are still in this year’s championship beyond the top ranked players include – JC Alvarado, Dan Heimiller, Tony Dunst, Kristen Bicknell, Liv Boeree, Sorel Mizzi, David Tuchman, Chris Klodnicki, Matt Matros, Lee Markholt, Thi Nguyen, Ant Zinno, Michael Moore, Barry Shulman, Shannon Shorr, Michael Binger and many others.
The next step towards determining this year’s elite group of finalists, otherwise known as the “November Nine” will be Thursday’s playing session. Day 3 commences at 12 noon and will play down into the money and even further. Those survivors will assemble back the Rio again on Friday. Thursday will be combined for the first time as all players are into one very happy and excited group. That also means that for the first time, the eventual winner will be someone positioned inside the Rio competing for the chance to become not just a whopping $8,000,000 richer, but also join poker’s extraordinary legacy to be enshrined forever as the world champion.
Play resumes for Day 3 commences at noon on Thursday.
With 770 survivors coming back on Day 3, and 1,416 returning for Day 2C, that leaves 2,186 players still alive in the world championship.
This year; a record 1,011 will make the money. That critical moment is expected to occur sometime late in Day Three (Thursday) after the dinner break.
Note: For a more comprehensive look at the highlights from Day 2C, please click here to see the LIVE REPORTING logs.