WSOP Daily Digest, June 5: Heads-Up scandal overshadows the bracelet

Keith Lehr won his second WSOP bracelet in the $10k Heads-Up Championship but all talk in Vegas is of the alleged cheating by Valeriu Coca

1. Tails I win, heads you lose

We settled down to watch a heads-up masterclass last night, in the finale of the $10k Heads-Up Championship. Instead we got a wham-bam affair that lasted around 30 minutes despite 100BB starting stacks. In the end Keith Lehr got a bit lucky to hit a bigger two pair on the river after Paul Volpe got his money in good with a flopped two pair. It’s Lehr’s second bracelet – he won his first 12 years ago – and he adds $334,430 to his wallet.

Sadly, the bigger story concerns the alleged cheating by fifth place finisher Valeriu Coca from Moldova. To cut an unfortunate story short, high stakes regular Connor Drinan tweeted to say the following after his match with Coca.

‘Bubbled the HU. Hands down strangest hour and a half of poker of my life. Felt super-used.’

He went onto the 2+2 forum to follow up, alleging the suspicious play, along with confirmation that he had received word that the player had already been banned from Czech casinos for marking cards.

Needless to say the allegations are being taken extremely seriously by the WSOP. They have confirmed an investigation is underway, with initial tests of the cards in play coming back as negative. We understand the investigation is ongoing and we’ll bring you further news as soon as we get it.

2. Event #12: $1,500 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em

25 players are left from a starting field of 1,651 and there’s a familiar name at the top. Steve Billirakis already has two bracelets from 2007 and 2011 and he’s in great shape to net his third. He was the only player to bag over a million chips.

The UK has three horses left, with Iaron Lightbourne in sixth, Craig McCorkell in 12th and Steffan Sontheimer in 21st. Scott Seiver (83rd) and Antonio Esfandiari (66th) both made the money before being railed. Play starts again at 1pm.

3. Not all over, baby!

Scotty Nguyen is making a deep run in Event #13, the $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better. With 40 players left he’s got a decent stack in 20th position. 2010 Main Event runner-up John Racener is doing better in eighth spot and Brian Rast is doing a lot worse with a short stack in 32nd.

4. Event #14: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout

1,000 players entered and after the first round the 100 table winners remained. They’ll all go into the draw for tomorrow’s action, with Huichen Kuo, Andreas Hoivold, Pratyush Buddiga, Justin Bonomo, Stephen Chidwick and Fedor Holz all hoping to repeat the feat and land on the final table. Play resumes at 1pm.

5. Big names in Event #15: $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em

An oddity and one that seems unique to the WSOP, the pot-limit hold’em event has had pros grumbling on Twitter and saying it should be replaced next year. Still, 128 players decided they could get their head around the maths and at the time of writing this, 71 remain in contention.

There might be a long way to go but this is, so far, the most stacked tournament of the series so far. Shaun Deeb is leading, with Roberto Romanello, Joseph Cheong, Davidi Kitai, Connor Drinan, Antonio Esfandiari and Marvin Rettenmaier making up 2nd to 7th. A bit further back you’ll find Faraz Jaka, Greg Merson, Daniel Negreanu and George Danzer lurking. Sam Trickett, Jonathan Duhamel, Scott Seiver and Sorel Mizzi are still in with a shout too. We’ve got high hopes that this will produce the star-studded final table we’ve been waiting for.

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