WSOP Daily Digest, June 9: All hail King Hellmuth!

Phil Hellmuth brings the 2015 WSOP to life with his 14th bracelet win and first since 2012

1. Hellmuth wins his 14th bracelet!

He was unlucky last year with two fourth places, a sixth and a second, but it only took Phil Hellmuth 13 days of this year’s WSOP to add his 14th bracelet and put more space between him and Phil Ivey (anchored on ten, with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan), who has yet to make an appearance in Vegas this summer.

Opinions might differ about Hellmuth’s character, but here’s the thing… He is, without doubt, the best tournament player the WSOP has ever seen. And, after dominating the NLHE scene since 1989, he’s now becoming a bit of Razz specialist – two of his last three bracelets have come in that format. And – let’s be clear – who else could draw a crowd at the Rio, and on the live stream (without hole cards), to watch a Razz heads-up play out?

Only 103 players entered the $10k Razz, which makes it the third smallest field of his 14 bracelet wins – and the smallest since his 1993 $5k Limit Hold’em win. It could mark a new strategy for Hellmuth, targeting the softer games with smaller fields in a bid to get as many bracelet wins on the board as possible.

That’s not to denigrate this latest win. It was a world-class field but with NLHE events attracting ridiculous crowds of tough players, pros know they have a much better chance of gold in non-NLHE formats. Phil Ivey doesn’t even have a bracelet in a NLHE event.

Hellmuth took $271,105 for first place, beating Mike Gorodinksy heads-up who took home $167,517. Gorodinksy was classy in defeat, tweeting afterwards:

‘Didn’t run so hot HU but so it goes. @phil_hellmuth played well and hat’s off to him, congratulations.’

The UK’s Adam Owen was third, Stephen Chidwick was seventh and Shaun Deeb ninth.

2. Milly Maker stuffed with big names

Okay, so we keep saying the big name pros’ best chance of a bracelet is outside of the big no-limit hold’em events. Well the Millionaire Maker is one of the biggest and it looks set to make us eat our words. With just 17 players left the field is ridiculously stacked, and after 7,275 players entered we’re left with the exciting prospect of one of the most star-studded final tables of the summer. Okay, there’s a way to go yet, but Erick Lindgren is second, Olivier Busquet is fourth, Mike Sexton is sixth, Niall Farrell is 13th and Andrew Lichtenberger is 16th. That’s what you call an embarrassment of riches.

Randy Pfeifer has the biggest stack with just over 6.5m, with Lindgren his nearest rival on 5.95m. Action starts again today at the early time of 11am ET, and it’s expected that the champion will be crowned in the early hours of tomorrow morning. The live stream, with commentary and hole cards, will be worth staying up for.

3. UK wins its first

So poker’s a young man’s game? Tell that to Hellmuth, or to John Gale, the veteran UK player who rolled back the years last night to win his second bracelet, a full ten years after his first. Gale, aged 61, took down the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo event, beating 1,790 other players to the $298,290 first prize. Another UK pro, Stuart Rutter, made the final table but finished sixth for $67,248.

4. Event #19: $3,000 Limit Hold’em 6-Handed; Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em

319 players entered the $3k limit event and just 22 remain, with Daniel Negreanu falling late in 25th spot. 2014 WPT Championship winner Keven Stammen is leading the way with 459,000 chips. Brian Hastings is currently in sixth place.

Meanwhile, 272 players are still in the hunt for the $1,500 NLHE bracelet. Valentin Vornicu has a big chip lead – 212,000 compared to 147,100 for Natasha Barbour in second place. Toby Lewis (89th) and Jake Cody (119th) are still in for the UK, along with Martin Jacobson (141st) and our very own Sofia Lovgren (192nd). Good luck to everyone left in! But especially to Sofia.

5. $10k Omaha Hi-Lo Championship

Only 56 players were eliminated on Day 1 of the $10k Omaha Hi-Lo Championship. Scott Tuttle from the States leads the remaining 101 players, but there are plenty of big names still in contention, including Shaun Deeb (8th), Eli Elezra (34th), David Benyamine (41st), Mike Matusow (44th), Stephen Chidwick (51st), Daniel Negreanu (75th) and Phil Galfond (92nd). Play starts again at 2pm ET.

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