Day 28 of the 2016 World Series of Poker was an eventful one, as two bracelets were earned. One of the biggest events of the summer, the Monster Stack, ended with a winner who had a surprising story. In other events, Loren Klein took gold, while two-time 2016 bracelet winners Jason Mercier and Benny Glaser had productive Day 1s.
All summer long, PokerNews.com will be bringing you daily coverage of the 2016 WSOP, brought to you by our sponsors, 888poker.
A Monster Win for Mitchell Towner
Countless poker players spend their lives dreaming of a million-dollar score, chasing it hour after hour, session after session, tournament after tournament, year after year.
Mitchell Towner is not such a player. He “plays a little cash for fun” when he finds himself in Las Vegas. Otherwise?
“I really don't play poker,” he said.
Nonetheless, he managed to do what so many dream of but very few have ever accomplished: book a seven-figure score on the felt. He defeated a field of 6,927 to win the $1,500 Monster Stack at the World Series of Poker for $1,120,196.
Towner, who works as an assistant professor of finance at the University of Arizona, found himself with tough players like Matt Affleck and Andrew Moreno seated a few spots to his left when the final table began. That informed his strategy.
“I just tried to play fairly straightforward,” Towner said of the strategy he decided on. “Everyone on my left was sort of a young wizard. So, I'm not going to be opening light or calling marginal spots. It seemed like people were liable to blast off occasionally, so I figured you never know, maybe I'll get hit with a deck of cards and run really well.”
That mindset, combined with a little good fortune such as when his tens held for his tournament life against the ace-king of Cody Pack at the beginning of the final table, was enough to push the professor into the winner's circle.
The Monster Stack ended as scheduled on Day 4 after bringing 26 players back. Poker legends David "The Dragon" Pham (fifth), TJ Cloutier (14th), and Donnacha O'Dea (21st) all fell during the course of play.
Official Final Table Results
|1||Mitchell Towner||Austin, TX||$1,120,196|
|2||Dorian Rios||Anqoa, Venezuela||$692,029|
|3||Stephen Nussrallah||Alpharetta, GA||$513,902|
|4||Daniel DiPasquale||Derry, NH||$384,338|
|5||David Pham||Cerritos, CA||$289,497|
|6||Andrew Moreno||Las Vegas, NV||$219,632|
|7||David Valcourt||Sept-Iles, Canada||$167,838|
|8||Marshall White||Garner, NC||$129,197|
|9||Cody Pack||Cartersville, GA||$100,185|
Klein Goes Nearly Wire-to-Wire for Gold
Loren Klein captured WSOP gold for the first time after racking up more than $400,000 in cashes over the past eight years at the Rio.
He won Event #45: $1,500 Mixed No-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha against a field of 919 players, one which he led almost wire-to-wire after bagging the chip lead on Day 1 and Day 2 and then coming to the final table with a mountain of chips that dwarfed the stacks of most of his opponents.
“There's a different strategy when you have that kind of chip lead, and I think I utilized a strong one,” he said. “I was above average almost the entire tournament. I didn't get all in too many times.”
The tournament was a new one on the WSOP schedule for 2016, and it's one that suited Klein's skills just fine as he called the mix his two best games. It's the best career score for the Nevada-based pro, edging out a runner-up finish in a $2,500 PLO event at the WSOP in 2010 for $195,147.
Official Final Table Results
|1||Loren Klein||Verdi, NV||$241,427|
|2||Dmitry Savelyev||San Bruno, CA||$149,177|
|3||Rick Alvarado||Ontario, Canada||$104,784|
|4||Michael Noori||Tarzana, CA||$74,634|
|5||Matthew Humphrey||Avon, IN||$53,915|
|6||Eric Penner||West Palm Beach, FL||$39,510|
|7||Alexandr Orlov||Moscow, Russia||$29,378|
|8||David Callaghan||Dublin, Ireland||$22,168|
|9||Steven Gagliano||West Babylon, NY||$16,980|
Klodnicki Leading Final Nine in Triple Draw Championship
Chris Klodnicki has won over $5 million at the WSOP, over $8 million in live tournaments overall, and more than $2.5 million in tournaments online. Despite the financial success, he still hasn't gotten his hands on a WSOP bracelet, but he's in good position to do so in the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Championship after bagging the lead with just nine players remaining.
There's still plenty of stiff competition, including Michael Gathy, John Hennigan, JC Tran, Viacheslav Zhukov, and Abe Mosseri.
Gathy is going for his fourth bracelet overall and his second of the summer after winning $5,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em for $560,843. He also finished second to Rep Porter in $1,500 Razz for $88,146, so 2016 has already been a lucrative WSOP for the Belgian.
Out of 125 players, 38 made Day 2 and 19 would be paid. 2016 bracelet winner Chris Vitch, Dan Shak, Daniel Negreanu, Dzmitry Urbanovich, Stephen Chidwick, and Jon Turner were some of the players who cashed in the star-studded field.
The remaining nine players will play Day 3 until just one remains, starting at 2 p.m. with limits of 15,000/30,000.
Heads-Up Between Wolansky and Jin in Event #44
A third bracelet was supposed to be awarded Tuesday, but it didn't end up happening as Steven Wolansky and Wenlong Jin remain locked in heads-up battle after three days of play in Event #44: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em.
Jin is seeking his first WSOP bracelet, while Wolansky captured gold in 2014, winning the $1,500 2-7 Single Draw for $89,483. He also has a runner-up finish in 2013 but is assured of his biggest WSOP score regardless of Wednesday's result. The winner will bank $298,849 while the runner-up will take $184,631.
Chip counts are almost even between the two, as Jin has 5,262,000 while Wolansky has 5,120,000. It wasn't always that way, as Jin started with a big lead and then lost it, only to regain it in a big way and have Wolansky whittled down under 10 big blinds when Jin had about 90. Nonetheless, the bracelet winner was able to battle back and knot things up by night's end.
They're the last two remaining out of a 2,076-player field. The heads-up match resumes at noon Wednesday.
Steve Gee Leads Final 36 in Bounty
After two days of play, a field of 2,158 in the $1,500 Bounty No-Limit Hold'em has been whittled down to 36 runners, and 2010 bracelet winner and former November Niner Steve Gee is at the head of the pack with 1,675,000.
Trailing him is another bracelet winner, former Ladies Event champion Kristen Bicknell, with 1,446,000. Kitson Kho (871,000), Sebastien Comel (829,000), and Fadi Hamad (749,000) also finished top five.
Plenty of other notables will be toting stacks into Day 3, including Norbert Szecsi, Calvin Anderson, John Myung, Jared Hamby, Joe Kuether, Mike Kachan, and Matt Stout.
Day 2 got underway with 308 runners, so the vast majority of the field went bust, with everyone collecting payouts as the tournament was already in the money. Tom “Butters” Kearney, Alex Lynskey, Jonathan Dimmig, Jeff Gross, Jason Les, Steve Sung, Jake Balsiger, Max Silver, and former Main Event champ Martin Jacobson were some of the players who headed for the payout desk during the 10.5 levels of play.
The remaining four tables resume play at noon at Level 21 (6,000/12,000/2,000).
Mercier Bags in $5K Turbo
The early event kicking off Tuesday was Event #48: $5,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em, which featured 30-minute levels and is scheduled to last two days rather than the usual three.
A field of 524 turned up for the event, including plenty of strong players, and 49 remain after 20 levels. The tournament has reached the money as only 49 remain, and they're playing for shares of a prize pool of $2.462 million. The winner will claim $548,139 and a gold bracelet.
While the chip lead belongs to Eduards Kudrjavcevs (640,000), it's a player with 311,000, ranking 15th, who will have all eyes on him come Day 2: Jason Mercier. The fearless Floridian is famously seeking his third bracelet of the summer, along with a pile of side bet monies.
Top 10 Chip Stacks
The tournament should gets back to its fast-paced action at noon Wednesday, and it remains to be seen if Mercier will make history — if, as he asks on Twitter, this is the one.
Kihara Leading $1,500 Stud After Day 1
The $1,500 Stud got rolling at 3 p.m. Tuesday, and Japanese pro Naoya Kihara is in the lead with 69 players left after 10 levels of play. He's seeking his second bracelet after winning a $5,000 Six-Max PLO event for $512,029 in 2012.
The tournament drew 331 runners to create a prize pool of $446,850, of which $111,101 is earmarked for the winner. Trailing Kihara's 89,000 is Yaniv Birman (84,900) and Brandon Cantu (83,000), with Frank Athey (65,200) in a distant fourth.
Meanwhile, 2016 double bracelet winner Benny Glaser has the sixth-biggest stack with 64,000. Glaser has been on a rampage so far this summer, showcasing his limit poker skills in a variety of events, and he's quietly threatening to get to three bracelets with much less fanfare than Mercier.
Matt Grapenthien, Robert Mizrachi, Shaun Deeb, Max Pescatori, Daniel Idema, and Adam Friedman also remain in the hunt.
The tournament pays 50 places, so the money should be reached fairly early Wednesday, with cards in the air at 2 p.m.
What's On Tap?
The half-century mark will be hit on Day 29 of the WSOP, as Event #50 has finally arrived. That one will get underway at 11 a.m., and it will likely be a popular one: $1,500 Shootout No-Limit Hold'em with a 2,000-player cap. One of the highlights of the summer is always the $10,000 PLO Championship, and that's the 3 p.m. event. That tournament will be eight-handed.