special to OddsShark by Earl Burton (PokerNewsDaily.com)
The first two weeks of the 2013 World Series of Poker have brought a great deal of excitement to the railbirds around the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino.
Some familiar former champions have reappeared on the scene (or come close), making history through the first 16 events of this year’s tournament schedule. While one tournament in its own right has made history, there have been some worries over other events that haven’t drawn in the players they did in 2012.
Here is the latest World Series of Poker news as of June 11.
Mike Matusow, Tom Schneider Win Bracelets; Allen Cunningham Comes Close
Over the first two weeks of the 2013 WSOP, what has been a bit surprising is the number of top professional players who have been taking part in some of the lower buy in tournaments.
Normally the pros reserve their efforts for the “big money” events ($5000 and up) or non-Texas Hold’em tournaments and avoid the minefield that the lower denomination tournament have become with their massive fields. With that said, there have been some notable performances over the first fortnight of the WSOP.
June 7 was one of those days where the pros’ skills shone on the WSOP stage. Mike Matusow, coming off his victory at the National Heads Up Poker Championship in January, emerged as the champion of Event #13, the $5000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo tournament.
Matusow’s victory was not only sweet in that it was his fourth ever WSOP bracelet win (putting him in some rarefied air) but also in that he defeated a tough field to get there. Mike Leah, Gavin Smith, Yuval Bronshtein and David “Bakes” Baker all tried to stop Matusow, but “The Mouth” wouldn’t be denied!
Also on June 7, Allen Cunningham came thisclose to joining Matusow on stage to receive a bracelet. Cunningham battled against Lev Rofman in the $1500 Pot Limit Hold’em event, holding the lead at the start.
Rofman would slowly work his way back to even, however, and end up winning Event #12, denying Cunningham his sixth bracelet.
Finally, just last night, 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider earned his third bracelet in Event #15, the $1500 H.O.R.S.E. tournament. Schneider defeated such players as Frankie O’Dell, Rep Porter and eventual runner-up Owais Ahmed on his way to taking the WSOP gold and the $258,960 first place prize.
In the years since his POY run, Schneider’s wife, Julie, had arguably been more successful in making two final tables, but Schneider put that behind him with his championship run on the felt in H.O.R.S.E.
“Millionaire Maker” Exceeds Expectations
The “Millionaire Maker,” Event #6 on the WSOP schedule, was one of the events closely watched by pundits to determine how “big” this year’s WSOP would be. The tournament guaranteed a first place prize of at least $1 million and WSOP officials expected 5000 entries for the event.
With two starting flights – and the opportunity for those who were eliminated in the first flight to re-enter the second – the “Millionaire Maker” ended up bringing the largest non-Championship Event field in WSOP history to the tables, a total of 6343 entries.
When the final table concluded on June 3, it was Canada’s Ben Chen walking off with the top prize of $1,199,104. Other notables at the final table included WSOP bracelet holder Dan Kelly (5th, $302,104) and online wizard Chris Hunichen (6th, $299,575).
Attendance – Up or Down?
Although the “Millionaire Maker” exceeded the expectations of WSOP officials, there have been other tournaments that have fallen a bit short. Event #9, the $3000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout tournament, only drew in a field of 477 when it was capped at 2000 players on June 3.
The $10,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em event, which started on June 7, was capped at 512 players and only pulled in 162. Even some of the smaller buy in tournaments have failed to meet their 2012 numbers, a concern as the WSOP rolls deeper into its schedule.
With five more weeks on the agenda, there is plenty of time for more history to be made at the 2013 WSOP.
With such tournaments as the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, the $111,111 One Drop High Rollers event and, of course, the $10,000 Championship Event waiting down the road, it promises to be an exciting time for poker players and fans as the 44th Annual World Series of Poker rolls along.