Photo Caption:  Daniel Negreanu, four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and one of tournament poker’s most successful players, is all smiles as he takes his seat in at the Pot-Limit Hold’em final table, which was played on Friday on the ESPN Main Stage.  Negreanu ended up finishing fifth in an event won by Nick Jivkov, from Chicago.
Largest Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in History – Event #8 at 2012 WSOP

First the Ring, then the Bracelet:  Nick Jivkov Wins Pot-Limit Hold'em Title
Daniel Negreanu Takes Fifth Place in Pot-Limit Hold’em Event
American Players Now Five for Five in Gold Bracelet Events
Five-Day Monster Re-Entry Tourney Begins Today
Mixed Max Down to 31 – Australian Warwick Mirzikinian Leads the Pack

Seven-Card Stud Entering Final Day – Barry Greenstein, David Williams & Andy Bloch Make Finale
Omaha High-Low Split Underway -- 220 Remain


The first major tournament record to fall at this year's WSOP was attendance for the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split event, which began on Friday.  A whopping 967 players packed the Rio in Las Vegas for Event #8, besting the previous record number set at last year's WSOP when a then-record 925 bodies showed up for an identical event.
This makes Event #8 the largest live Omaha High-Low Split tournament in poker history.  Payouts will go to the top 117 finishers -- the most ever for this game of poker.  The winner will collect $264,400, plus a WSOP gold bracelet.
Through the start of the first seven open gold bracelet events at this year's WSOP, three events showed an increase in attendance.  Two events showed a decline.  Two events are new to the schedule. 


Sometimes, poker lingo gets confusing.  There are re-buy tournaments, second-chance tournaments, and reload events which leave even the most experienced poker player (and poker writer) confused, at times.
Years ago, the WSOP offered several re-buy tournaments.  That meant players could buy-in repeatedly to the same tournament if they were eliminated.  Grumblings and player protests gradually led to the phasing out of these inequitable tournaments, since some players had nearly unlimited financial resources and could just keep on re-buying in an effort to win a gold bracelet
The last few seasons of WSOP Circuit events have adopted what is called a "re-entry" concept, which allows players the chance to buy back into the tournament on the following day, if they get eliminated during Day One
Event #9 on this year's schedule begins Saturday, which includes the first of two starting flights -- called 9A and 9B.  The 9A playing session begins and noon.  Survivors return for Day Two, to be played on Monday.  Those less fortunate who busted out have the option of playing again on Sunday, which is the second starting flight, referred to as 9B.  Those survivors will combine with the 9A group and resume play on Monday.
Given two starting sessions and a big weekend ahead, the attendance and prize pool for this event should be significant.  The tournament will last five days, and will conclude most likely on Wednesday. 

He defies all the conventional wisdom about poker having turned into a game dominated by young guns.  While the blood pressure of many of his contemporaries reaches a boiling point and the poker world gets rocked to its core by younger upstarts, mostly in their 20s and 30s, 65-year-old Chris Bjorin continues to play the best poker of his life, demonstrated by a stellar record in gold bracelet events over the past four years.
Bjorin's second-place finish in Event #4 gives him eight final table appearances since the start of the 2009 WSOP -- which ranks among the best performers in the game for that time span.  Bjorin, from London (U.K.), currently holds two gold bracelets -- won in 1997 and 2000.  He came close to victory number three several times in recent years, with two runner-up finishes since the middle of last year's series.
Bjorin has now cashed 20 of the last 21 years.  His 62 cashes ranks fifth on the all-time list, placing him the game's most hollowed company.   He's also cashed in three of the last four WSOP Main Event Championships.
The mystery is -- how does he do it?  What is the quiet Swedish-born gentleman Bjorin doing so right that just about every other player his age is missing and doing wrong?  What's Bjorin's secret?
Alas, perhaps the real mystery and the fun of watching and following WSOP events is trying to see the entire puzzle before its complete, and to try and solve the ambiguity of this marvel.  Indeed, we will enjoy watching Chris Bjorin as he continues strive for another gold bracelet victory.
“The cards are bigger than you.  You’re not bigger than the cards.  The cards are the best player at the table.  So, let them come to you and don’t force the issue.  Pick your spots.”
-- Ex-NFL Dallas Cowboy star linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, speaking to eventual winner Cory Zeidman during breaks (by cellphone) during the final table of the Stud/Eight event, which ended early Friday morning.

9:00 AM

The $75 buy-in TURBO MEGA-SATELLITE is the first tournament of the day.

EVENT #9 is a $1,500 buy-in NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM (RE-ENTRY) tournament.  Registration is expected to be open for the first four levels of play (plus two 20-minute breaks).  This means registration will close at approximately 4:40 pm.  Action will take place inside Brasilia and likely the Pavilion White & Black sections.

EVENT #9 is listed as a five-day event.  There are two Day One sessions.  Saturday’s “Day One” will play from noon until roughly 15 percent of the field remains.  There will be a 90-minute dinner break -- expected to take place between 6:40 and 8:10.
EVENT #9 surviving players are expected to bag up at the conclusion of 10 playing levels and return to play on Monday for Day Two – which has the combined fields from both starting days.  That session will begin Monday at 1 pm.
EVENT #9 updates can be followed at  Coverage includes almost-live chip counts as well as written updates supplied from the tournament floor by our friends at

The official Structure Sheet for EVENT #9 can be viewed HERE.
1:00 PM
EVENT #6, the $5,000 buy-in NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM MIXED-MAX continues with the play of Day Three (of four) and the format today is heads up matches.  Players were re-seeded based on chip counts, with 1 playing 32, 2 playing 31 etc.  They will continue throughout the bracket format as these seeds. There are 31 survivors entering the day (number was supposed to be 32, but two players busted out on final hand of Day Two).  All action will take place inside Amazon.  Dinner break is expected to take place around 7:40 and will last one hour.

EVENT #8, the $1,500 buy-in OMAHA HIGH-LOW SPLIT tournament continues with the play of Day Two.  There are 220 survivors who will return for today’s action.  Play will take place inside Amazon.  Dinner break is expected to take place around 7:40 and will last one hour.

2:00 PM
EVENT #7, the $1,500 buy-in SEVEN-CARD STUD tournament continues with the play of Day Three – including the final table.  There are 9 survivors who will return for today’s action -- among them Barry Greenstein and David Williams.  Play will take place on the ESPN Main Stage in Amazon.  Dinner break is expected to take place around 8:40 and will last one hour.

The first daily DEEP STACK NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM tournament begins.  The entry fee is $235.  Registration is open for four (30 minute) levels, plus one break – which means until about 4:20 pm.
2:20 PM
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place inside Brasilia, on the main stage.  One gold bracelet will be presented.  Nick Jivkov -- Winner of EVENT #5 -- will be the sole recipient on this day.  Media and the public may take photos and video of the ceremony – which includes a gold bracelet presentation, the playing of the national anthem of the winner’s country, and optional remarks from the latest champion.  The ceremony takes place at the end of the first break of the noon tournament.

4:00 PM
The first MEGA-SATELLITE begins.  The entry fee is $330.

6:00 PM
The second DEEP STACK NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM tournament begins.  The entry fee is $185.  Registration is open for four (30 minute) levels, plus one break – which means until about 8:20 am.

8:00 PM
The second MEGA-SATELLITE of the day begins.  The game is SEVEN-CARD STUD, which feeds into EVENT #10.  The entry fee is $550.

10:00 PM
The third and final DEEP STACK NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM tournament begins at 10 pm.  The entry fee is $135.  Registration is open for four (30 minute) levels, plus one break – which means until about 12:20 am.

3:00 AM
All WSOP gold bracelet tournaments end for the night.

Through the conclusion of five gold bracelet events, Americans are now five for five in wins.  This is a bit unusual, since recent years have begun with a frenzy of players from other nations coming to Las Vegas and seizing the gold.  In 2012, all five of the first champions were from the United States.  However, two pf the winners were born outside the U.S. 
Nick Jivkov, from the Chicago area, won EVENT #5, the $1,500 buy-in POT-LIMIT HOLD’EM tournament.  He put on a masterful show, taking the chip lead about midway through final table action en route to victory.  Jivkov had previously cashed ten times on the WSOP Circuit, but this marked his first time in the money in Las Vegas.  His share of the prize money amounted to $189,818. 
Jivkov has enjoyed a dream come true week while in Las Vegas.  He arrived five days ago, and instantly played in one of the Deep-Stack tournaments, which he won -- good for $14,000.  Torn between entering EVENT #5 and playing in a tournament held elsewhere, Jivkov decided that the gold bracelet was the thing to play for, and thus he entered the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event.  A few days later, Jivkov has his biggest career win and poker immortality.  He's now won two of the last two tournaments in which he's played -- and isn't finished yet.
Among those who made deep runs in EVENT #5 were former gold bracelet winners Daniel Negreanu (5th), Thom Werthmann (10th), John Juanda (18th), Tom Franklin (25th), Antonio Esfandiari (44th), and Jordan Smith (46th).  Final results can be viewed HERE.

On Day Two, EVENT #6, the $5,000 buy-in MIXED-MAX tournament, played from 122 down to 31 survivors.  Warwick Mirzikinian, from New South Wales, Australia currently leads the pack.  Players will be re-seated according to chip counts for the heads-up matches.  Remaining players can be viewed HERE.

EVENT #6, the “NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM MIXED-MAX third day includes the heads-up bracket sessions -- to be played at 1 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm (where winners advance to the next round).  Day Four (Sunday) play includes the last four players, with two heads-up matches.  Next, the two survivors play down to a winner.

On Day One, in EVENT #8, the $1,500 buy-in OMAHA HIGH-LOW SPLIT tournament, played from a whopping 967 starters down to 220 survivors.  Remaining players can be viewed HERE.

The EVENT #8 prize pool totals $1,305,450.  The top 117 finishers will finish in-the-money.  The winner receives $264,400 and a WSOP gold bracelet.

EVENT #8 is the largest live Omaha High-Low Split tournament in history.


The 1,500-Player Rule:  Ever wonder why some WSOP events have 10 levels on the first day, while others have 11 levels?  It’s based on field size.  This year, the WSOP has an unwritten policy to play 10 levels on Day One when there are 1,499 entrants or less.  Events with 1,500 or more entrants play an extra hour on the first day, which means 11 levels of action.  The explanation behind this policy is simple.  Since fields for some events have become so big, the Day Three sessions have occasionally been extended into a fourth day.  By adding an extra hour on the first day, players tend to play less hours, when possibly fatigued on the final day.

The WSOP is one of the few tournaments which allows for the possibility of participants playing in two events at the same time.  In years past, many players have played in two events simultaneously.  However, cashing in two events simultaneously -- where all three playing days are in conflict - is unprecedented.   Mike Sexton, former gold bracelet winner and inductee and Poker Hall of Fame member, entered Event #3 and Event #4, which began the same day.  The two tournaments were very much at odds, since the overlap included three consecutive days.  Sexton accomplished what is believed to be a first in poker history.  He not only cashed in two but also managed to finish in the top 16 for both tournaments.

Many WSOP attendees this year have commented about the tournament not seeming quite as “busy” as years past.  No doubt, the look and feel of previous years consisted of quite simply too many people bunched inside jam-packed tournament rooms.  But this year, the Rio has added 92 more poker tables to the WSOP facility, which now creates a gargantuan 470-table complex (500 tables are actually available for use, when factoring in tables located inside the Rio Poker Room – which will be used for massively overflow events).  This means the 2012 WSOP is the largest live venue in poker history.  Tournament action takes place in three large rooms – Pavilion, Brasilia, and Amazon.  Moreover, ESPN’s main stage has returned from a spectacular debut at last year’s WSOP.  Final table action is now more spectator friendly than ever before.  The bottom line is that while the WSOP may not have the combustible energy of the past, which was created by inadequate space, this year, basic comforts for poker player have never been more obvious.

Cash games will be bustling this coming weekend.  There are 82 poker tables dedicated to cash games inside Pavilion, plus an additional 14 poker tables dedicated to cash games inside the Rio (Main Casino).  Right now, the most popular game spread is $1-3 No-Limit Hold'em.  However, games of virtually all limits will be held in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Single-table satellites are being held 24/7 inside the Pavilion.  All satellite winners receive $500 buy-in tournament chips.

* Please note that all listed times are estimates and subject to change
-- Nolan Dalla