2016 WSOP Day 42: Vornicu Shines in Main, Final Bracelet Event Begins

Valentin Vornicu

Day 42 of the 2016 World Series of Poker saw the Main Event field begin to take shape and the final event of a long summer grind get underway when the$1,111 Little One for One Drop kicked off.

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Valentin Vornicu Pacing the Field After Day 2ab of Main

One man has raced out ahead of the pack with two of three Day 2s complete at the World Series of Poker Main Event. Circuit grinder Valentin Vornicu, who started the day with 100,800 in chips, shot all the way up to 838,600 to bag a big chip lead over second-place Jamie Shaevel.

Here are the top 10 chip counts from the combined fields of Day 2a and Day 2b, which played out in separate rooms at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Valentin Vornicu838,600
Jamie Shaevel586,000
Alvaro Lopez573,200
Ramin Hajiyev558,400
Chad Power546,800
Petr Bartagov546,000
Ronnie Pease518,100
Jonas Lauck510,000
Gaelle Baumann504,600
Eric Afriat501,000

Vornicu, an eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner, has not translated his success on the circuit to the Rio. His $76,134 in winnings at the WSOP pales in comparison to his $413,701 in earnings at circuit events, but Vornicu is looking to change that in his first career crack at the Main Event.

“There's no tournament like it,” he said. “I've played bracelet events but this one doesn't compare to any other ones. I'm appreciating it, I'm happy to get this opportunity to play this.”

Far from being able to point to a major pot or two that propelled him to the top, Vornicu said small and medium-sized pots were the norm for him, as he couldn't recall any pots bigger than 80,000 that he dragged.

He's not letting himself get too excited even though he's had a number of excited friends text him about his progress, even though he did admit he thinks it's the heaviest bag he's ever left on the felt at night's end.

“I'm happy, I played good I think,” he said. “I made good calls, made good bluffs, and the cards came my way. It turned out great, but it's just one day and many days left. Obviously, I'm excited and feeling good but I'm not getting ahead of myself here.”

Chad Power is looking to continue his run of success in the Main Event that started last year with a 26th-place finish for $262,574. He's used to having a big stack here after finishing among the leaders multiple times in 2015.

In total, 760 players made it through the two Day 2 flights out of 1,847 runners to sit down in front of chips. Maria Ho (435,000), Marc-Andre Ladouceur (410,500), Alexander Kostritsyn (388,900), Owen Crowe (385,000), and Dietrich Fast (359,500) also finished among the top 50 chip stacks.

All of the players who survived will get a day off before the entire Main Event field combines for the first time for Day 3 on Thursday at 11 a.m. That day off is a big benefit of playing one of the first two Day 1 flights and a luxury Vornicu plans to take advantage of by sleeping in and spending a day at the pool.

“It'll be great,” he said. “It's probably my second day off in a month and a half. Obviously, if we do make it further, there's not going to be any more rest days, so I've got to take advantage.”

An unscheduled half of a level was added to the structure for Day 2ab in an effort to pare down the field a bit further, so players will return with one hour left at blinds of 1,000/2,000/300.

Final Event Gets in Gear

The last WSOP event of the summer kicked off as the $1,111 Little One for One Drop got underway with the first of three starting flights. The tournament benefits the ONE Drop charity with $111 of every buy-in going to the organization.

The wisdom of getting the tournament underway after the start of the Main Event remains to be seen, but Day 1a drew 754 runners, meaning there's still quite a bit of work to do to get to last year's number of 4,555 entrants. That said, with unlimited reentry allowed and two more flights to go, there's still plenty of time.

A total of 120 players survived Day 1a, with Israel's Yaron Zeev Malki holding the chip lead at 278,900.

Barry Hutter (180,600), Jiri Horak (183,700), and Fabian Ortiz (178,300) also bagged big. Other survivors included Patrick Chan, Terrence Chan, Kelly Minkin, Max Pescatori, John Racener, Andy Bloch, Brian Hastings, and Nick Yunis.

One notable player firing away is Jason Mercier, who is looking to run up a big stack at any and all costs in hopes of giving himself maximum chance to pocket a third bracelet for the summer, which would win him countless monies in side bets.

His first crack at the Little One ended up being a four-bullet day, and each shell ended with Mercier felted. On his last attempt, he got in a raising war in late position with {a-Clubs}{5-Clubs} and got his stack of almost 70 big blinds in against a player holding {a-Hearts}{k-Clubs}, failing to improve.

Expect more heavy action from Mercier tomorrow, when the tournament resumes with the second starting day at 3 p.m.

What's On Tap?

At 11 a.m., the survivors of the largest single starting day in WSOP Main Event history return to the Rio for Day 2c in what's sure to be a packed house. At 3 p.m., the second of three starting days for the Little One for One Drop gets underway.

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