It’s fair to say that the 2013 WSOP has finally exploded into life. After Antonio Esfandiari narrowly missed out on another huge One Drop title, this time in the $111,111 High Rollers event, the British rail finally got to gather in force as Barny Boatman made the final table of event 49. And late on Saturday night in Vegas, Boatman finally won his first bracelet and $546,080 when he came out on top of the huge 2,247 field.
Boatman came close to winning a bracelet in 2002 when he got heads-up in a $2k pot limit hold’em event, but the veteran pro has never won a major title. That monkey is off his back now and the Twitter explosion and raucous rail that greeted his victory shows how popular Boatman is in the poker world. It might not please him much to be called a national treasure, but there was a genuine outpouring of happiness at his win across the poker community – one that moved Boatman to proclaim on Twitter: ‘Thanks for all the love and congratulations guys. You’re choking me up. When do we get back to trying to take each other’s money? :)’ Look out for our interview with Boatman in the next issue of PokerPlayer, on-sale July 25.
Another Brit, PKR player Eleanor Gudger, tried her best to make the bus analogy in the Ladies event (you wait for one Brit to win a bracelet…) last night but fell in sixth place for a personal best $27k score.
Meanwhile, the event that promised to deliver the star power, the $25k six-handed event, delivered, with Phil Galfond making it to heads-up against Canadian pro Steve Sung. Galfond is one of the top online cash players in the world but has never focused much on tournaments – his last major title (and only bracelet) was a $5k WSOP Omaha event at the 2008 WSOP.
Both players were after their second bracelet and after a tight heads-up battle the pendulum swung towards Galfond when he took down a big pot with 7-7 against Sung’s A-Q. If their stacks had been much shallower that could have been the deciding hand, but instead it gave Galfond a big stack advantage. That flip-flopped though in the best – and what turned out to be defining – hand of the heads-up encounter. With Galfond holding 3c-4c to Sung’s Kd-10s, the board read Qc-10h-8s-9d when Galfond fired out 1.25m. Sung clicked it back to 2.5m, leaving 1.75m behind, and Galfond tanked for seven minutes contemplating whether a shove would get Sung to fold. Eventually he decided against it and folded giving a big chip advantage back to Sung.
Shortly after the money went in preflop with Galfond ahead holding Ks-Qh to Sung’s Jc-10d. The flop – Kd-Jh-10h – gave both players a massive sweat but Galfond couldn’t improve and Sung took the bracelet and the $1.2m first prize.
While all that was playing out, the players at the $50k Players Championship were bagging and tagging after the end of the first day. The second most prestigious tournament at the WSOP was notable for the entry of Doyle Brunson, who had previously Tweeted that he was giving up tournaments. Only five players exited on day one but big names Vanessa Selbst and Johnny Chan were two to drop. 2010 Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel bagged up the chip lead, closely followed by Jason Mercier and Brian Rast, with Doyle Brunson sitting back in 10th. Can Brunson roll back the years to take his 11th bracelet? We doubt there would be a more popular champion.
Finally, in another $1,500 no-limit event, Brit David Vamplew is aiming to go one better after finishing second way back in event 2. Vamplew is currently in ninth with 25 players left. That event will play out to a conclusion tonight.