Only one bracelet has yet to be awarded before the Big Dance begins in just two short days. Two of these sought-after pieces of WSOP bling were handed out today, in Events 52 and 53. Event 54 began with one of the most interesting fields we've seen thus far, taking us that much closer to what we've all been waiting for, the Main Event.
In Event 53, $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em with re-buys, we "saw" another final table play out in the Box, safely isolated from any sort of fan/media interaction. The final nine in this tournament contained some familiar faces.
That true OG gangster Chad Batista was in attendance but unfortunately entered the finale near the bottom of the chip counts, making it to fifth place before hitting the rail. Isaac Haxton, this year's WPT PokerStar's Caribbean Adventure runner-up came into the day more comfortably stacked but was only able to make it to seventh before getting himself felted.
Shawn Hattem, who's had a great WSOP so far, went out in fourth and Arnold Spee, one of the most well dressed players on the circuit, made his exit early in eighth place.
After everything was said and done it came down to the heads-up match between Michael Graves and Theo Tran. Graves held the chip lead going into the final hand and managed to get all his opponent's chips in the middle with the best of it.
Graves opened the pot with a raise and Tran made the call. The flop came 4♣ 5♠ 7♣ and all the money went in. Graves was in the lead with 5-6 for middle pair and an open-ended straight draw while Tran needed some help with his 8-9. The board brought nothing but blanks, however, and Graves was able to celebrate his first bracelet and the close to $750,000 that came with it.
The second piece of World Series ice that ended up on a player's wrist tonight came in Event 53, the $1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout. This final table didn't begin until well into the evening and finished up by around 4am.
Hendon Mob in the WSOP House
Hendon Mobster Ram Vaswani, who has made appearances at countless WSOP final tables in the last few years, finally got what was coming to him, taking down the bracelet and putting on a heads-up poker practicum in the process.
He began the one on one match at a chip deficit to his opponent Michael Ward but quickly turned things around. He then proceeded to absolutely demolish Ward over the course of the next level and had built up a ten to one chip lead going into the final hand.
Ram raised from the button to $60,000 and was re-raised by Graves. Vaswani made the call and the flop came A♥ J♥ 2♥. Ward led out and Vaswani smooth-called. The turn was the 8♥ and after another bet from Ward, Vaswani raised, putting his opponent to a decision for the rest of his chips.
Ward opted to make the call but saw he was in terrible shape when Ram turned over the K♥. Drawing dead going to the river there was no need to sweat it. Ram let out a cry of victory, secure in the knowledge he had taken down the bracelet that had eluded him for so many years.
The only other ongoing event in the tournament room today was $5,000 2-7 Single Draw Lowball with re-buys. Only 78 players turned out for this event but managed to re-buy more than two hundred times, fattening up the prize pool to almost $1.5 million!
The list of players read like a who's who of brand name pros with every table home to more than a few familiar faces. By the end of the day the field had been narrowed down to just seventeen, all of whom will return tomorrow to play down to a winner.
The most interesting part of the night in this event came right at the end and involved Sean Sheikhan putting on a wonderful demonstration of how to win with grace! Taking massive pots from both Jeff Lisandro and Barry Greenstein in the last few hands of the night, Sheiky is going into tomorrow's festivities sitting atop the chip counts.
And so only the conclusion of this Lowball extravaganza stands between us and the beginning of the Main Event. Literally thousands of players will be showing up to play on the four Day 1's needed to accommodate their numbers so make sure to keep it locked on PokerListings.com for everything you need to know from the World Series of Poker, from our computers to yours.