Bracelet Bonanza on WSOP Day 20 for Young German Phenom, Journeyman Senior, and Rising Power Player Ben Yu

Some people play poker to escape the slog of a traditional work week. But any semblance of a relaxing weekend was over by Monday, the 20th day of the 2017 World Series of Poker, where it was time for serious action. Two events had to add an impromptu Day 4 to accommodate massive fields, and four winners received their gold bracelets. And that’s just some of what went down at the Rio in Las Vegas, so let’s get down to business:

Ben Yu, 2017 WSOP

Ben Yu is all smiles and looking sharp, as he’s en route to taking down the $10k 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw. He also is currently the chip leader in $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship. (Image: Melissa Haereiti / PokerPhotoArchive.com)

Ben Yu Betters Big Names for Bracelet #2

On Monday, 31-year-old Ben “BYU” Yu was at his sixth WSOP final table and looking for his second gold bracelet after winning the 2015 WSOP Event #50, $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $291,456.

Yu, a graduate of Stanford University and former professional breakdancer, managed to outlast a tough final table in Event #34, $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship, to capture the title and a $232,738 prize, which brought his WSOP earnings up over seven figures.

“It was actually a very tough final table,” Yu told WSOP officials after the win. “I think the media overblows it [at times]. Even a lot of the name players, the ones you’ve seen have some success, aren’t always that great. But this final table and this field was actually really tough.”

Final Table Results
1 Ben Yu (Henderson, NV) $232,738
2 Shaun Deeb (Las Vegas, NV) $143,842
3 Nick Schulman (New York, NY) $98,337
4 Mike Watson (Toronto, Canada) $68,601
5 Shawn Buchanan (Abbotsford, Canada) $48,854
6 Mike Matusow (Henderson, NV) $35,532

22-Year-Old German Phenom Wins Gold

Christopher Frank, a 22-year-old German poker pro now residing in Austria, topped a field of 1,698 to win Event #33, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em, for his first gold bracelet. It also marked the first WSOP bracelet won by a German in 2017, and brought the summer’s total number of countries with a bracelet up to nine.

Despite having more than $1.1 million in live tournament winnings prior to the victory, the $384,833 score was the biggest of his burgeoning career.

“I don’t think it really has sunk in yet,” Frank told reporters after his win. “But it’s a very good feeling. I’ve been playing the live circuit for pretty long, and I’ve always dreamed of winning something big. And now I’ve done it.”

Final Table Results
1 Christopher Frank (Vienna, Austria) $384,833
2 Ryan Leng (Wheeling, IL) $237,776
3 Arkadiy Tsinis (Miami, FL) $171,208
4 Pratyush Buddiga (Colorado Springs, CO) $124,615
5 Grant Denison (Portland, OR) $91,699
6 Georgios Sotiropoulos (Farrell, Greece) $68,226
7 Noah Vaillancourt (Cowichan Bay, Canada) $51,332
8 Max Pescatori (Milan, Italy) $39,060
9 Michael Gagliano (Rockawaym NJ) $30,063

Maggio Last Senior Standing

Event #31, $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship, began with 5,389 entrants, up 20 percent from last year’s record field. It was so large the tournament required an extra Day 4 to determine a winner. That man was 56-year-old Frank Maggio, who has made it an annual tradition to travel from his home in Illinois to Las Vegas for the WSOP Seniors Event.

“I come out here every year since I turned 50 to play in the Seniors event,” Maggio told WSOP officials. “I cashed a couple of years ago, but this year’s a big surprise.”

Prior to the monster $617,303 win, Maggio’s best cash of $2,830 came after he placed 181st in the 2015 WSOP Seniors Championship.

Final Table Results
1 Frank Maggio (Calumet City, IL) $617,303
2 William Murray (San Francisco, CA) $381,233
3 Dieter Dechant (Henderson, NV) $281,691
4 Mark Lillge (Kensington, CA) $209,715
5 A. Licastro (N/A) $157,321
6 Gina Bacon (Las Vegas, NV) $118,923
7 Lewis LeClair (Dallas, TX) $90,594
8 Paul Spitzberg (Tenafy, NJ) $69,552
9 Dan Heimiller (Las Vegas, NV) $53,817

Make it Raina

Event #29, $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em, began with 1,086 players, and also had to add an unanticipated Day 4 to finish the event. Just two players had to stick around for it, as Day 3 played down to heads up. But Gaurav Raina and James Calvo returned to action, and after two hours of play, Raina dispatched his lone remaining opponent to win $456,822 and his first gold bracelet.

“I was very fortunate to get all the hands and win all the flips,” the 33-year-old poker pro from New Jersey told WSOP officials after the win. “To make it heads-up when I was severely chip disadvantaged almost the whole final table, when the bracelet plopped in between us, I was like ‘Oh man. I can’t even look at this thing. If I look at it, the worse it’s going to be for me when I don’t get it.’ So, I just decided to just not even give it any attention at all and just play the game as best I can.”

Final Table Results
1 Gaurav Raina (Athens, GA) $456,822
2 James Calvo (Naperville, IL) $282,276
3 Asi Moshe (Tel Aviv, Israel) $199,718
4 Eddy Sabat (Los Angeles, CA) $143,148
5 Eric Cloutier (Mont-Laurier, Canada) $103,957
6 Griffin Abel (Pittsburgh, PA) $76,506
7 Henric Stenholm (Stockholm, Sweden) $57,068
8 Giuseppe Pantaleo (Bielefeld, Germany) $43,154
9 Scott Margereson (UK) $33,087

22 Bag Super Seniors Day 2

Day 2 of Event #35, $1,000 Super Seniors, which requires participants be at least 65 years old to participate, saw 258 of 1,720 entrants return to battle for a their share of a $1,548,000 prize pool. The bubble had burst at the end of Day 1, which meant everyone was in the money.

Among those to hit the rail over the course of Day 2 were actor James Woods (34th for $6,535), start-of-the-day chip leader Johnny Landreth (59th for $3,827), “Captain” Tom Franklin (89th for $2,512), and Poker Hall of Famer TJ Cloutier (174th for $1,723).

The only player still alive and over the seven-million chip mark is Kerry Goldberg with 1.22 million. Others who’ll return for Day 3 include Veronica Daly (634,000), Terry Stuhldreher (305,000), and Ken Aldridge (157,000).

The final 22 players come back at 11 am PT on Tuesday to play down to a winner.

Final Three Tables for $5k 6-Max

Event #36, $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed, began with 574 players, but after Day 2, just 18 remained. Kenny Hallaert is leading the pack, with his stack of 1.77 million chips. It’s a $580,338 prize for the winner, and the remaining players fighting for it include Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen (1.62 million), Faraz Jaka (1.21 million), and a short-stacked Mike Leah (246,000).

Blinds are at 5,000/10,000/1,000 when players return at 2 pm PT on Tuesday, so even shorthanded it’s still anybody’s game.

Among those to finish in the money on Monday were Jesse Sylvia (24th for $19,604), Layne Flack (30th for $15,868), and Jonathan Little (59th for $8,031).

Eveslage Leads $1K NLH

Event #37, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em, drew 2,020 runners to create a $1,818,000 prize pool. The top 303 players will get paid, with the winner walking away with a juicy $292,880. The money bubble actually burst on Day 1 and saw players like Phil Hellmuth (249th for $1,577), Joe Barnard (294th for $1,502), and three-time bracelet winner John Monnette (298th for $1,502) all get a piece of the pie.

Leading the 238 survivors is Chad Eveslage (197,300), followed closely by Louis Salter (192,000). Others who bagged and tagged were included Varnell (141,300), Mark Seif (131,200), and Jordan Cristos (83,000), just to name a few.

Take It to the Limit, Ben Yu

Day 1 of Event #38, $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship, drew 120 players, for a $1,128,000 prize pool. The top 18 will cash, with the eventual winner taking home $311,817.

After 10 levels of play, brand new lowball triple-draw bracelet winner Ben Yu is chip leader (360,000). This is the event in which he won his first bracelet in 2015, and now he’s being chased by a veritable who’s who among the 41 players still kicking, including Daniel Negreanu (260,500), Kevin Song (246,500), Phil Hellmuth (225,500), Joe McKeehen (209,000), JC Tran (190,500), Jeff Lisandro (160,000), and Justin Bonomo (148,000).

Among those to have their torches snuffed out on Day 1 were Jonathan Duhamel, Mike Matusow, Erik Seidel, Jason Mercier, and Matt Hawrilenko.

WSOP Bounty Hunters Beware

Two new events will kick off on Tuesday. The first, which will begin at 11 am PT is Event #39, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty. That tournament will feature 20-minute levels and place a $300 bounty on each player’s head.

Then, at 3 pm PT, Event #40, $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better will get underway.

It was an extra-busy Monday at the WSOP, and it looks like on Tuesday the action won’t let up.

Chad Holloway
Written by
Chad Holloway
Splitting his time between his native Wisconsin and Las Vegas, Chad Holloway gave up a potential law career to follow his passion and play and write about poker. His background includes a long stint as a senior writer for a major poker news site. Long well-known throughout the poker community for his incisive and in-depth commentary and reporting, we are proud to have Chad on board as part of our CardsChat writing team, where he will be covering everything from the World Series of Poker to interviews, features, and more.

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