While the 2016 WSOP Main Event is playing out, the WSOP media staff revisits some of the summer's headlines, starting with...
Ryan Laplante's Emotional Victory
(Written by Brent Harrington)
Ryan Laplante reached a major career milestone early this summer, winning the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha event for $190,328.
Unfortunately, the celebration was marred by news from across the country. A gunman murdered 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, sending much of the nation into shock and reigniting conversations about equal, gay rights, gun control measures, and national security. Laplante chose his moment of victory to join that conversation.
After a player wins a WSOP event, they traditionally receive the bracelet at a ceremony the following day. They are given a choice of whether to give a short speech. Most players decline. The morning after winning his bracelet, Laplante announced that he had not planned on speaking, but the tragedy in Orlando had changed his mind.
As a pro, Laplante reached one of his goals, winning a WSOP gold bracelet. But more importantly, he got the chance to speak about acceptance and to encourage people to be “who they are.” In a tearful speech, he declared to the world that he was proud to be a WSOP bracelet winner, and even more proud to be an openly gay poker player. His fiancé Chris Katona (pictured above right) presented him with his bracelet amidst cheers from the crowd. Typically, the speeches players give in the Brasilia room are seen only by those who are in the room, but given the circumstance, Laplante’s speech was talked about in media outside the poker world. His story ended up on the pages of major new websites at a moment when his message resonated powerfully across the country.
A Tearful Ryan Laplante at his Bracelet Ceremony
Mike Cordell: The Story Behind the Bracelet
(Written by Molly Mossey)
Mike Cordell from Little Rock, Ark., won his first World Series of Poker bracelet this summer when he took down the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max Event. But he almost didn’t even make the trip to Vegas to play the event.
Cordell started playing poker professionally in 2005 after giving up his job as a truck driver. He played full time until the death of his father in 2010, but then became a caretaker to his mother Elizabeth Cordell.
Caring for his mother was a full time obligation that he never thought twice about undertaking, despite the fact that it meant he was not able to leave the house for any extended period of time. He did manage to secure short trips to the Series every summer in Vegas, and also played at the WSOP Circuit event at Tunica (he took 6th place in the $365 Six Max event in Tunica this past January). But playing full time was not a possibility, and his family came first.
Mike Cordell Raises his First WSOP Bracelet
Early this summer, Cordell’s life was forever altered after the surprising passing of his mother. Elizabeth Cordell had gone in for foot surgery on a Wednesday, been admitted for routine overnight watch, and then started to quickly decline. By Saturday, she had passed away from a blood infection the doctors believe was present prior to the surgery. After his mother’s passing, the funeral was held the following Wednesday, and Cordell was forced to make the decision to either cancel his previously scheduled trip to Vegas, or go despite the significant life changes he had just endured.
“I had plans to come out on Thursday [June 2nd] to play the Colossus and the Six Max, and she passed away on Saturday. I thought about changing the plans. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she wouldn’t want me to just sit around this house and mope. So I decided to go ahead and make my trip, and deal with all of this other stuff when I got back. We had the funeral on Wednesday, and I flew out Thursday.”
Over the course of the six-max event Cordell believes that his mother was there with him. “I feel like she was there helping me to make sure I take care of myself now.” Friends of Cordell have said that her presence was obvious. “I’ve never seen him so calm, even when taking beats,” one of Cordell’s best friends Michael Sanders said.
Upon winning the bracelet, Cordell extended his trip a few days to attend the bracelet ceremony, but then headed right back to Arkansas to take care of legal matters surrounding his mother’s death. He returned to Vegas a few weeks later and hopes to keep his streak alive when he plays the WSOP Main Event on Day 1C (July 11th).
Having dedicated his life to caring for others, it’s clear that Mike Cordell has earned his time to play, and from this point forward, he will never take life for granted and/or forget where he came from. His mom will be watching over him reminding him that he is a now a World Series of Poker Champion.
Rep Porter Wins His Third Bracelet
(Written By Darrel Plant)
The 2016 WSOP saw several previous bracelet winners notch another victory. One of them was Rep Porter, who earned his third career bracelet in the $1,500 Razz tournament.
Porter bested a field of 461 players, earning a first-place prize of $142,624. He defeated Michael Gathy in a heads-up battle of heavyweights (Gathy also won his third career bracelet this summer). The final table also included Poker Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu, bracelet winner Shaun Deeb, Daniel Weinman, Alexey Makarov, and eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu.
For Porter, this bracelet represents another accomplishment in a long history of WSOP success. His first cash at the WSOP came eleven years ago when he took 15th place in a $5,000 Limit Hold'em event. He won his first bracelet three years later, for a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed tournament, then a second bracelet for $1,500 Seven Card Razz in 2011.
Since that year, Porter has played (and cashed in) nearly every type of poker game that the WSOP has to offer, at almost every level: from the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em events to the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (6-handed). He's had multiple cashes every year since he won his second bracelet, including seven in 2016.
Rep Porter and his rail after his 3rd WSOP victory
More highlights to come tomorrow...