<
>

The second half of the 2013 WSOP

The 2013 World Series of Poker is currently on hiatus as the November Nine is set. With 6,352 entrants, this year's main event became the eighth largest in WSOP history.

The 61 preliminary events came to a conclusion during Day 1B of the main event, providing more intriguing stories from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino and here are some thoughts on a very busy second half of 2013 WSOP.

"Big Drop" Overflows: "Little One" Doesn't Fulfill

Many people speculated on the turnout for the $111,111 One Drop ("Big Drop"). Many predicted that the event would not break 100 players. In my last column, I predicted 141 entrants, which numerous pundits believed was too high. However, the WSOP did not disappoint as it easily became the largest six-figure buy-in in poker history, eclipsing my prediction with 166 entries. With such a great turnout, the tournament officials made it a four-day event, although the fourth day lasted less than two hours. Maryland native Anthony Gregg would outlast this high roller field, surviving a short stack with two tables remaining. He actually registered for the $25,000 six-handed no-limit event just in case he busted, but "unfortunately" had to let his chip stack blind off during Day 1 and the beginning of Day 2 as he had other priorities. Shortly after his post-victory interviews and collecting his $4.8 million paycheck, he ran off to play his stack in the $25,000 six-handed event.

As for "The Little One," this event had the potential to have a record-breaking turnout as it had not only two starting flights, but also unlimited re-entries during the first four levels (in essence, a rebuy event). Some envisioned the tournament might break the record set earlier this year in "The Millionaire Maker," which had 6,343 entrants. Scheduling may have turned out to be the biggest issue with the event as starting days occurred on Wednesday and Thursday and the Little One drew a respectable, yet somewhat disappointing 4,756 entries. Californian Brian Yoon ran over the final table in only three hours to take home the gold bracelet and $663,727.

More Family Jewels

During the first half of the 2013 WSOP, seven players added to their WSOP bracelet collection. Not to be outdone, eight players added additional jewelry to their wrists during the second half of the series. Almost 25 percent of the bracelet winners this summer were repeat champions.

New bracelets for Castaneda, Harwood and Bicknell

Since 2008, only two truly open WSOP bracelet events have been won by a woman and both were captured by the same person: Vanessa Selbst. She captured her first WSOP bracelet in 2008 in $1,500 pot-limit Omaha, and last year took home her second piece of jewelry when she won the $2,500 10-Game Mixed event (Note: Allyn Jaffrey Shulman won the 2012 Seniors Event but this field was limited to players who were 50 years old and over).

This year, not only did nine women make final tables, two women won open events against huge no-limit hold 'em fields, while one of them set a record for the most money earned by a female in a single WSOP. Arizona native Dana Castaneda came to the WSOP with a heavy heart, as her grandmother died days before she left for Las Vegas. However, before passing away, she left her granddaughter with an inspiration talk that predicted she would win a bracelet. After a solid 94th place finish in an earlier event, the prediction seemed to be unfulfilled. Nevertheless, Castaneda continued to pursue her dream as she decided to parlay her $1,768 winnings and enter the $1,000 no-limit Event 54. After two hard fought days through a massive 2,883-player field, the 31-year-old cocktail waitress entered Day 3 as the short stack. Undeterred, she rallied and won, earning her first WSOP gold bracelet and $454,207 in memory of her prognosticating grandmother.

Even with only a few events remaining, the success for women was far from done. For New York native Loni Harwood, the 2013 WSOP has been a breakout summer. Not only has she had six cashes, but also three final tables including a victory in Event 60 ($1,500 no-limit hold 'em) over a field of 2,541 players, earning $609,017. Her total of $874,698 in 2013 summer winnings is the most by a woman during the summer series. Additionally, the 23-year-old's impressive results have catapulted here into third place in the WSOP Player of the Year standings.

The $10,000 Ladies Championship (with a $9,000 ladies' discount) was a triumphant success. No bankroll laden male decided to enter the event, making it the first all-female event in several years. Canada's Kristen Bicknell bested the 954-player field to earn $173,992 and a record 10th bracelet for Canada this summer.

Player of the Year Update

2013 WSOP POY Standings

The Player of the Year race is close once again and leading the way is 25-year-old Englishman Matthew Ashton, who has truly made the 2013 WSOP his coming out party. A breakout summer campaign that has included four cashes and four final tables (first, second third and seventh), Ashton captured his first bracelet over a star-studded field of 132 players in the $50,000 Players' Championship. Ashton left Vegas with over $2 million in earnings this summer.

Five-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu led the 2013 WSOP POY race for most of the summer and surged back into second after a deep run in Event 59 ($2,500 limit 2-7 triple draw Lowball). In fourth place is David "Bakes" Baker who had an impressive summer with eight cashes and four final tables (including a runner-up finish in the $10,000 2-7 no-limit single draw). At one point during the summer, "Bakes" was less than a point behind Negreanu. Given his ability in all games, he is definitely within striking distance of the leaders. Rounding out the top five is Donald Nguyen, who has utilized two runner-up finishes in the $10,000 heads-up event and $50,000 Poker Players' Championship to sit solidly in fifth place. With the WSOP main event and the eight WSOP Europe events (including a newly announced ladies event) counting towards this competition, it will be an exciting race to the finish for this year's award.

Still One Left To Play

One bracelet is yet to be awarded: the WSOP main event. In three more months, the final nine players will return to the Penn and Teller theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino to battle for the most coveted bracelet in poker. It took seven grueling days of play to determine the final nine players, led by two-time WSOP bracelet winner and former WPT champion JC Tran, but this final table has several other established players including online superstar David "Raptor" Benefield, former WPT Champion Mark Newhouse and 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Amir Levahot. The 2013 November Nine could've had even more drama and intrigue had 2001 WSOP main event champion made the final table, but "The Matador" was eliminated in 10th place, becoming this year's November Nine bubble boy.