WSOP Event #2: Raymer, Veldhuis riding high - Rousso cashes
Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer is in familiar territory. The Fossilman is very much at home in the Rio as his WSOP record testifies: the world championship in 2004 and an amazing run one year later that so nearly saw him reach the final table again. And there's been other significant WSOP cashes since, all of which confirm his status as a WSOP big-game specialist - and explain why he looks so comfortable near the top of the end-of-day-two, $40,000 no limit event leaderboard.
Earlier today many in the poker community were willing on Chris Moneymaker - who started the day second in chips - reasoning a victory in this high-profile tournament would do wonders for the game's popularity among the masses. Yet it was not to be for the man from Tennessee, who busted shortly after the dinner break - first losing a huge coinflip with Tony G, and then soon after fatally running his pocket tens into Ted Forrest's kings. He walked away from the table in disgust - had he stayed for the flop the first card he would have seen was a ten... the second, a king.
With Moneymaker's demise, the general backing turned to Raymer - as a victory for him would also bring welcome publicity to the game seeing as he is a popular figure, an ambassador and more proof that poker must indeed need educated craft and not rely heavily on luck as so many detractors would have us believe. As play drew to a close tonight, Raymer was dancing merrily to the community's tune, fourth in chips on 2,287,000.
The bubble - an expensive one at that - burst just ten minutes before the end of play when Neil Chriss bust in 28th. Moments later, Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso went in 27th, picking up the first of the $71,858 prizes, another creditable result following her audacious victory in the EPT Monte Carlo €25,000 high roller event. Her day had been a tale of holding on, then securing two key double ups to carry her into the money, before falling in a classic race when her Q-Q fell to Keith Lehr's A-K, with the winning ace falling cruelly on the river.
Another Team Pro who looked capable of cashing was Humberto Brenes, but he, like Moneymaker, was to fall soon after dinner, when his A-7 failed to catch up with Raymer's 9-9.
Raymer has more PokerStars expertise for company near the top of the leaderboard, where online star Lex Veldhuis, a member of Team PokerStars Holland Pro, has been flirting with the chip lead for two days. The chip counts show he ended the night fifth in chips, with 2,103,000 - a good day's work for the Dutchman, who is looking here to secure his biggest live cash result to date.
But both Raymer and Veldhuis still have a mountain to climb to pick up the bracelet and the $1,891,012 first prize. With 23 players remaining, the top of the leaderboard tonight is Justin Bonomo on 2,678,000, just ahead of Ted Forrest, who had overslept on the dinner break and was half an late returning to his seat. How Moneymaker must wish he had napped for just a little longer.
We'll be back tomorrow for day three of the $40,000 event, plus day two of the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low 8 or Better, and the start of event number four, the $1,000 no limit event which has already surpassed 5,000 registrations. Who was it who said poker had reached its peak?
Official overnight chip counts, end of day two. 23 players left:
Justin Bonomo, 2,678,000
Ted Forrest, 2,586,000
David Baker, 2,367,000
Greg Raymer, Team PokerStars Pro, 2,287,000
Lex Veldhuis, Team PokerStars Holland Pro, 2,103,000
Alec Torelli, 1,725,000
Keith Lehr, 1,257,000
Vitaly Lunkin, 1,166,000
Matthew Marafioti, 1,003,000
Brian Rast, 912,000
Suresh Doshi, 771,000
Daniel Stern, 762,000
Clark Hamagami, 691,000
Matthew Glantz, 671,000
Brian Townsend, 671,000
Noah Schwartz, 541,000
Isaac Haxton, 539,000
Tony G, 481,000
David Chui, 318,000
Neil Channing, 270,000
Andrew Black, 210,000
Frank Kassela, 167,000
Andrew Robl, 112,000