While the 2016 WSOP Main Event is playing out, the WSOP media staff revisits some of the summer's headlines. Yesterday, in Part I of this highlights series, we looked at Ryan Laplante's first WSOP victory and the emotional speech he gave at his bracelet ceremony; Mike Cordell's triumphant return to poker following family tragedy; and Rep Porter's third bracelet. Today, we start with...
Kindergarten Teacher Nearly Wins Millionaire Maker
(Written by Ben Saxton)
A memorable story from early in the summer featured Lisa Meredith, a kindergarten teacher and former competitive gymnast. Meredith, who discovered poker six years ago, often played in $20 tournaments at a local pub in Portland, Oregon. After winning a $100 buy-in tournament for $10,000 in April, she traveled to Las Vegas with her husband, Dustin, and entered the $1,500 buy-in Millionaire Maker. Despite the fact that she had entered her first WSOP Event, Meredith played a tight, fearless style and often put her more experienced opponents to the test. In a tournament that drew 7,190 entrants and generated a $9,706,500 prizepool—including a first prize of $1,065,403—Meredith found herself among the fifteen remaining players heading into Day 4.
When she reached the unofficial final table of ten players, Meredith sat in third place with 6,300,000 chips. Most of her opponents, including Frank Rusnak, Stanley Lee, and Arkadiy Tsinis, were seasoned professionals. Ultimately Meredith finished in third place for $500,000—enough money, she said, to pay off her house, take a vacation, and put the rest of the money away in savings. The two players who outlasted her, runner-up Garrett Greer and eventual winner Jason DeWitt, also enjoyed healthy paydays of at least $1,000,000. Not many kindergarten teachers can claim that they played in one poker tournament and won half a million dollars. Now, Lisa Meredith can.
Benny Glaser Goes Back to Back
(Written by Simkha Blank)
Benny Glaser made history at the 2016 WSOP when he became the first person ever to win bracelets in back-to-back Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or Better events in the same WSOP. The 26-year-old pro from Southampton, UK, took the top prize first in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha/8 event for $244,103 and then Event #32, the $10,000 buy-in Championship, for $407,194. They were his second and third bracelets, respectively. His first came last year when he won the $1,500 2-7 Limit Triple Draw Lowball, which earned him a $136,215 payday.
Since Glaser’s bracelet ceremony for his first win of this summer had not yet taken place when he won his second, he was awarded both bracelets in a single ceremony. These wins earned him not just the title of tournament champion in these events, but the title of “Brit with the most bracelets.” While Praz Bansi, John Kabbaj, John Paul Kelly, Matt Perrins, Barny Boatman, and John Gale all have two, nobody who calls the UK home has more than Glaser now. His total live tournament earnings are now $905,945, a number further bolstered by his two additional final tables here at the Rio this summer. His first final table came in Event #16: $10,000 buy-in Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, where he finished in fifth place and took home $62,810. He then went on to win both bracelets before he was part of the team that finished sixth in Event #61: $1,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em for $6,245. Glaser has also had three other cashes this summer at the WSOP and currently sits in ninth place on the WSOP Player of the Year Leaderboard. It’s clear that we haven’t seen the last of the young pro, as he is sure to continue to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Mitchell Towner: Amateur Poker Millionaire
(Written by Brent Harrington)
Mitchell Towner is the embodiment of a recreational poker player. He has only one recorded tournament cash. And according to him, he has only played one WSOP event and it was his only tournament buy-in higher than $100. He is a professor at the University of Arizona and plays poker for fun, at home with friends. But his one cash? He won the won the Monster Stack Tournament for $1,120,196.
Towner was an outlier at the final table. He was up against professional players like Andrew Moreno, who ran deep in last year’s WSOP Main Event and had a large crowd of friends and supporters cheering him on. Towner, on the other hand, was virtually alone. By the time he was heads up for the bracelet, his rail had grown from one to three. A few U of A alumni found out that Towner was heads up in the tournament and came to the main stage to cheer him on. When he finally won the bracelet, they joined him in his winner’s photo.
Thousands of players come to the Rio every day of the summer seeking the prize that Towner won. He’s living the dream of coming to the World Series of Poker and turning a small buy-in into more than a million.