After the chaos and massive crowds of Day 1C Monday, a relative lull came over the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as Day 2AB of the 2016 World Series of Poker main event played out.
The massive crush of humanity -- 4,240 players packed into three massive rooms -- was gone, replaced by a group of 1,847 that represented less than half the number that will come back for Day 1C Wednesday.
But that’s not to say there wasn’t exciting action and a tremendous pace to the play in the Amazon and Brasilia rooms (and more on that later), as stacks grew and one player in particular distanced himself from the pack in the later stages of the day
Valentin Vornicu, the eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner, was having a pretty steady day until his stack completely exploded in the final few hours of play Tuesday. He ended up more than doubling his already healthy stack in that stretch, ending with 838,600 in chips and the overall chip lead between Days 2A and 2B -- putting him more than 250,000 ahead of his closest competitor.
One of the most impressive parts of that run? Vornicu didn’t play a single pot of more than 80,000 chips.
“I’m happy, I played good, I think. I made good calls and good bets, and the cards came my way,” said Vornicu. “It turned out great, but it’s just one day in [a string of] many days that are hopefully going to come.”
Vornicu’s methodical style worked in his favor, as most players at his table, rather than avoiding contact with the big stack and hoping for a better draw on Day 3, decided to play back at him on a regular basis. Almost everything seemed to be going Vornicu’s way on Tuesday, with the brief exception of a drink that spilled due to a lack of a cupholder -- a small inconvenience compared to the tremendous good he enjoyed on Day 2AB.
“Obviously I’m excited, and I’m feeling good, but I’m not getting ahead of myself here,” said Vornicu.
Because he elected to play Day 2B, Vornicu now has the luxury of enjoying a second off day during his main event run.
“It’ll be great to reset,” said Vornicu of the day off he’ll have on Wednesday. “This is my second day off in a month-and-a-half, so I’m going to sleep in and take my time -- relax a little bit, enjoy the pool.
“If we do make it further along in the tournament, there aren’t going to be any more rest days,” he continued. “This is the advantage of playing one of the earlier flights, as you get two days off, whereas if you played the final starting flight you only get one.”
As the schedule currently stands, those who bagged on Tuesday night hold a tremendous advantage over all of the players who make it through Day 1C; those bagging Wednesday night will have the very difficult turnaround of playing until close to 1 a.m., only to have to turn around and play Day 3 at 11 a.m. on Thursday morning.
The pace of play picks up dramatically on Day 2
Nearly 74 percent of the players who entered on either Day 1A or Day 1B made it through to their respective Day 2’s (1,847 of 2,497), but the survival rate took a sharp downward turn from Day 2 to Day 3 as just 760 players (41.1 percent) of those who made it through Day 1 got to bag a second time on Wednesday night.
While Vornicu was certainly the biggest beneficiary of the rapid shifts in chip counts, he wasn’t the only one by a long stretch. Chad Power, who finished 25th in the 2015 WSOP main event, is at it again early on in 2016, bagging the fifth-largest stack of the night; former 10th place finisher Gaelle Baumann ended the night ninth in chips with 504,600 in chips, and Maria Ho cracked the top 20 by bagging 435,000.
Other notables well north of average include Marc-Andre Ladouceur (410,500), Alexander Kostritsyn (388,900), Owen Crowe (385,000), Richard Lee (363,600), Brandon Adams (342,400) and Matthew Ashton (342,100).
Top 10 stacks following Day 2AB:
Valentin Vornicu (San Diego, CA, USA) -- 838,600
Jamie Shaevel (Santa Monica, CA, USA) -- 586,000
Alvaro Lopez (Tucson, AZ, USA) -- 573,200
Ramin Hajiyev (Baku, Azerbaijan) -- 558,400
Chad Power (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) -- 546,800
Petr Bartagov (Moscow, Russia) -- 546,000
Ronnie Pease (Las Vegas, NV, USA) -- 518,100
Jonas Lauck (Primstal, Germany) -- 510,000
Gaelle Baumann (Strasbourg, France) -- 504,600
Eric Afriat (Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada) -- 501,000
The first of three days’ worth of starting sessions in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop kicked off at 3 p.m. Tuesday, drawing 754 total entries. 120 players bagged at the end of the night, with Yaron Zeev Malki of Israel well out in front with 278,900 and Barry Hutter in second with 189,600. Notables already going through include 2015 November Niner Pat Chan (109,700), Terrence Chan, Kelly Minkin, Max Pescatori, John Racener, David Bach and Jared Jaffee.
Two winners were formally honored during the last bracelet ceremony scheduled for the 2016 WSOP. Clayton Maguire was up first, receiving his WSOP gold bracelet for winning the $1,000 WSOP.com online no-limit hold ‘em event. Next was Fedor Holz who, at 22-years-old, has won over $10 million in the last six weeks and took home just shy of $5 million (along with the bracelet) for winning the $111,111 One Drop High Roller.
Former NFL defensive lineman Richard Seymour was part of the more than 58 percent of the field to be sent packing on Day 2AB.
What’s next: Day 1C of the 2015 WSOP main event kicks off at 11 a.m. PT. The second of three starting sessions in the $1,111 Little One for One Drop gets underway at 3 p.m. PT.