One of the coolest things about the WSOP is watching people go from rags to riches in a matter of days. After winning $888,888 on Monday in Event #54, the Crazy Eights Eight-Handed No Limit Hold’em championship, Ohioan Hung Le explained why this money is so important to him.
“I have five kids,” he said. “We are a lower-middle class family. We work hard. This is life changing money for us.”
The 53-year old Vietnamese recreational poker player bested a field of 6,761 in the inaugural event that was sponsored by online site and WSOP partner 888poker.
This was the first major poker tournament he had ever entered. And Le even admitted afterwards that he felt outclassed by his opponents. He made quite a few questionable decisions at the final table.
“I came out to Las Vegas to get lucky,” Le admitted. Mission accomplished, sir.
Le is a nail salon owner. This ought to pay for a lot of new colors for the ladies.
Channeling his inner Edgar Allan Poe on an ESPN WSOP broadcast years ago, Mike Matusow affectionately rhymed, “poker, poker, it’s all skill, start with the worst hand and go uphill.” Hung Le bought into that philosophy and is now a WSOP champion.
Bubble Pops on Georgios Sotiropoulos
Georgios Sotiropoulos did not have a happy Independence Day. The Greek high stakes poker pro was the Much-dreaded bubble boy in Event #55, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. He walked away with nothing, just one spot away from the money, on Monday. That’s always an extra-painful spot to bust in.
Up until July 4th, Sotiropolous had fared quite well in this year’s World Series. He has six cashes to date, including a 5th place finish in Event #8, the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E championship.
On a positive note, 14 players are guaranteed money with two days of play remaining. That includes brothers from one of poker’s first families: the Mizrachis. Robert Mizrachi busted out in 14th place ($75,833). And his brother, Michael, is still alive with 2,016,000 chips, which means he starts play today at 2 pm PT in the fifth spot.
The remaining 13 players are all chasing Justin Bonomo (3,127,000). The poker pro with the shot of hot pink in his hair already has three top three finishes this summer. All he needs now is a bracelet to cap off what’s been a stellar 2016 WSOP.
The defending champ, Mike Gorodinsky, has cashed again, but he’ll need a miracle to repeat last year’s victory now. Gordo is dead last in chips (526,000).
Daniel Negreanu hasn’t won a bracelet since 2013, and will need to run as lucky as Hung Le did on Monday to have a chance in this prestigious event. Kid Poker is just one spot above Gorodinsky, with 995,000 chips in his stacks.
The final table will play down on Wednesday at the Rio in Las Vegas. A title in this event is worth $1,296,097.
Just Not Hellmuth’s Year
Phil Hellmuth made it to Day Three of the Poker Players Championship with a small stack and was unable to run it up. The Poker Brat was eliminated early on Day Four by Jason Mercier. He walked away with no cash.
It’s been a rough summer for the 14-time bracelet winner. He only has three cashes, one deep run, and no new jewelry. With only a few more opportunities to win gold before the Main Event, Hellmuth might have to concede that 2016 isn’t going to be a historical one for him.
What’s Up Next?
Tuesday is going to be another crazy day at the Rio. On top of what we already discussed, three tournaments are expected to play down to a winner:
- Event #56, the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em has 28 players remaining. Matt Affleck is the chip leader.
- Event #57, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split 8-or Better has 16 bracelet hopefuls left. Everyone is chasing David Nowakowski for the chip lead.
- Event #58, the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em is down to the final 28 players. With 30-minute blind levels, players will be dropping like flies on Tuesday. Enrico Rudelitz is your chip leader.
- Tuesday also marks the beginning of Event #59, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em and Event #60, the $1,500 Stud HI-Low/8 or Better.