Monday, September 25, 2017 4:16 PM Local Time
Cuban-American rec breaks through for a huge score at Hard Rock
Niovel Chirino Alvarez is the newest first-time winner on the WSOP Circuit. Alvarez topped a robust field of 1,612 entries in the $580 re-entry event, winning his first gold ring and the top prize of $135,022.
Alvarez, 41, was born in Cuba and immigrated to South Florida in 2002. He set up his own trucking company, and things frankly didn't get off to a very good start.
"It went bad for four or five years," Alvarez recalled. "I had a bad time.”
In 2013, a friend loaned Alvarez a single truck to try to reignite his business. It worked. The new champ got a bit emotional as he relayed that he now owns 26 trucks himself and oversees another 27 from owner/operators in his organization.
"This is just my hobby," he said of poker. "I'm not a pro at all. I'm shaking because I didn't even think I could win.” His previous tournament results include just one cash for about a thousand bucks.
Alvarez has been playing cards since his childhood days in Cuba, though, growing up around a local variant that resembles three-card poker. Nowadays, the Miami Lakes resident can mostly be found at the cash game tables at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.
"I always come here," he said. "I don't play anywhere else. It's cool; the people are nice here. I get along with basically everyone.”
Monday, September 25, 2017 2:48 AM Local Time
The final three players are locked in a stalemate as 3 a.m. approaches, and the staff has rung the bell. The finalists are bagging up for the night, set to return Monday for an unscheduled Day 3.
Here's the remaining lineup:
Seat 1: Gil Aboodi - 9,420,000 (79 bb)
Seat 2: Scott Sanders - 4,060,000 (34 bb)
Seat 3: Niovel Chirino Alvarez - 5,860,000 (49 bb)
And here are the remaining payouts:
Blinds will be 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante to begin Day 3, putting more than 160 big blinds in play. Action resumes at 2 p.m.
Sunday, September 24, 2017 11:52 PM Local Time
From a starting field of 1,612 entries, just 10 players remain in this opening event. Here's the final table lineup:
Seat 1: Matyas Csiszar - 920,000 (23 bb)
Seat 2: Nagui Yassa - 1,770,000 (44 bb)
Seat 3: Vytautas Semaska - 2,050,000 (51 bb)
Seat 4: Gil Aboodi - 4,700,000 (118 bb)
Seat 5: John Magnetta - 1,300,000 (33 bb)
Seat 6: Scott Sanders - 3,800,000 (95 bb)
Seat 7: Niovel Chirino Alvarez - 1,500,000 (38 bb)
Seat 8: Jordan Meltzer - 1,000,000 (25 bb)
Seat 9: Rafael Oropesa - 415,000 (10 bb)
Seat 10: Ruslan Dykshteyn - 1,855,000 (46 bb)
Blinds are 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000 ante for the next few minutes, putting the average stack close to 50 big blinds. Here are the remaining payouts up for grabs this evening:
Sunday, September 24, 2017 2:17 AM Local Time
The clock has hit the 25:27 mark of Level 15, and that signals the end of the night for the Day 1F flight. As was the case for the morning's Day 1E session, 58 players have advanced through to Day 2.
Manny Minaya (pictured) ended with the top stack of 270,100 chips, putting him in second place overnight. He and the rest of the field are chasing Day 1C and overall chip leader Luiz De Farias Guimaraes and his stack of 319,600.
Brett Bader (115,900) also made it though the Day 1F flight, as did Alex Rocha (95,900), T.K. Miles (80,100), A.J. Kelsall (77,900), Jeter Brock (63,800), Jessica Dawley (50,700), Asher Conniff (28,800), and Steve Karp (22,400).
Day 1F chip counts
The 218 total survivors from all flights will return to action Sunday at 1 p.m. with the goal of playing it out to a winner. The series' first gold ring and a top prize of $135,022 await the eventual champion.
Saturday, September 23, 2017 11:10 PM Local Time
Saturday, September 23, 2017 10:41 PM Local Time
As it turns out, this flight was the largest of the six. Another 410 entries joined Day 1F, bringing the total field to 1,612 entries.
The prizepool will be posted shortly.
Saturday, September 23, 2017 7:23 PM Local Time
The Day 1E field was reduced to 58 players by the time the clock expired, and the survivors are now filling out their end-of-day paperwork.
AJ Gambino finished the flight with 232,100 chips to top the rest of the field. That's good enough for fourth place on the overall leaderboard at the moment, with 160 players already through to Day 2.
Erik Cajelais did good work, too, bagging up 177,000 this evening. Bruce Snell (136,600), Abbey Daniels (135,300), Tony Ruberto (pictured, 131,400), Ryan D'Angelo (81,300), and Jonathan Hilton (58,500) also advanced through this flight.
Day 1E chip counts
The final starting flight, Day 1F, is under way on the other side of the room with close to 250 entries already.
Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:35 PM Local Time
This Day 1E flight was expected to be the largest of the six, but the turnout has been particularly impressive. A total of 398 entries were tallied before the close of registration, bringing the field to 1,202 across the first five starting flights. That also moves the prizepool well past the $500,000 guarantee.
A number of Circuit regulars are starting to show their faces in South Florida this weekend, too, including Krzysztof Stybaniewicz, John Holley, Cody Pack, and Jordan Meltzer.
Day 1F begins at 6 p.m., and it represents the last chance to join the field for Event #1.
Saturday, September 23, 2017 2:12 AM Local Time
The clock has run out on Day 1D, and the 36 survivors are tucking their chips safely into bags for a two-night soak.
Stephen Brown ended the night with the big stack of 180,100 chips, good for seventh place overall at the moment. He and everyone else are still chasing Day 1C chip leader Luiz De Farias Guimaraes and his stack of 319,600.
Brian Hastings (pictured) also made it through this flight after a few unsuccessful tries, advancing with 78,800 chips. Stewart Newman (110,500) and Wally Maddah (38,800) both wear Hard Rock Poker patches on their lapels, and they, too, are among the Day 1D survivors. Circuit regular Russell Sullivan advanced with 151,000 chips.
Day 1D chip counts
The 36 who survived this flight join the other 66 survivors in a day off on Sunday. While they rest, Days 1E and 1F will give the rest of the hopefuls another couple chances to advance to Sunday's combined Day 2.
Friday, September 22, 2017 10:37 PM Local Time
Well, that's encouraging.
After a bit of a sluggish Thursday start, the attendance has escalated nicely today. Day 1C posted a strong turnout this morning, and this Day 1D flight has drawn another 268 entries. That makes it the largest flight so far, bringing the total field to 804. And counting. Tomorrow's pair of flights figure to rival these two in size.
Action continues through the first few minutes of Level 15.
Friday, September 22, 2017 7:43 PM Local Time
The clock has run out on Day 1C, and the 29 survivors have bagged up for the evening.
Luiz De Farias Guimaraes ended the day with 319,600 chips, good enough for the overall chip lead through three of six flights. Gil Aboodi also advanced with 122,000, as did Ory Hen (94,700), Nicholas Mahabee (52,400), Bob Chow (47,600), and short stack Kindah Sakkal (pictured, 8,000).
They'll all have tomorrow off, set to return for the combined Day 2 on Sunday.
Day 1C chip counts
Meanwhile, the Day 1D flight is under way on the other side of the room, with close to 200 entries already in play as the first break ends.
Friday, September 22, 2017 3:39 PM Local Time
This morning's turnout was a good one. Another 232 entries joined Day 1C, bringing the total field to 536 across the first three starting flights. That puts the prizepool more than halfway to the $500,000 guarantee, with three more starting flights left to run.
Day 1D begins this evening at 6 p.m.
Friday, September 22, 2017 1:56 AM Local Time
The Day 1B field played to the same 25:27 mark of Level 15 as did Day 1A. The starting field of 144 entries was trimmed to just 18 survivors over that period, and the survivors are in the process of bagging up for the night.
Nathan Pitts finished the flight with the biggest stack of 206,700 chips, and that's good enough for second place overall at the moment. He and everyone else are still chasing Day 1A chip leader Maxwell Campbell, who set the high-water mark at 244,800 earlier in the day.
Six-time ring winner Vincent Moscati (pictured) also advanced through Day 1B, ending with 68,500 chips.
Day 1B chip counts
The 37 players who survived the two flights have earned themselves a couple days off, set to return for the combined Day 2 on Sunday. Meanwhile, two more groups of players will take their seats on Friday, and another pair of flights go off on Saturday.
Day 1C begins at 11 a.m.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:44 PM Local Time
With the addition of another 144 entries for the evening flight, the Event #1 field has grown to 304 entries through the first two starting flights. They'll play through the first five minutes of Level 15 before bagging up for the night.
Days 1C and 1D run tomorrow (Friday) at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 6:51 PM Local Time
With 25:27 left in Level 15, the field is reduced to 19 players, and that signals the end of their day. Each subsequent flight will play to that point on the clock (at the longest).
Maxwell Campbell bagged up the big stack on Day 1A, ending with 244,800 chips. Stuart Krasney is the nearest challenger with 173,000. Michal LaRocca (150,000) and Sean Perry (121,200) are among the others who advanced through the first flight.
Day 1A chip counts
Thursday, September 21, 2017 3:36 PM Local Time
The Day 1A crowd has played through eight levels and two breaks, and the registration period has expired for this flight. The board shows 160 entries for Day 1A, setting a good pace toward the $500,000 guarantee.
Day 1B begins at 6 p.m., with late registration and re-entry open until 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:58 AM Local Time