While there was plenty of action around the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Monday, the true story of the 2018 World Series of Poker lay in one event. The $10,000 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship worked its way to the final day, with one competitor announcing it was perhaps his final poker event.
Event #20 – $10,000 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball Championship
Thirty-eight players returned on Monday for Day 2 action in the latest $10,000 Championship event. But prior to the day’s start, a host of players came to the fore to join the fray. Phil Ivey, Brian Rast, Phil Hellmuth, Robert Mizrachi, James Obst and the father-son tandem of Doyle and Todd Brunson (among others) would receive a 50,000 stack of chips and pull up to the tables to bring the official field to 95 total players at the start of action.
The newcomers seemed to poach the short stacks as the day began. Hellmuth eliminated Frank Kassela in one of the early hands after getting dealt a jack low that held up, while Adam Owen took out Mike Leah when Owen’s pair of deuces was lower than Leah’s holdings. Rast got in on the knockouts when he took down Shaun Deeb on the very first hand. But it was the tale of Doyle Brunson that had the Rio buzzing.
Brunson, at 84 one of the living legends of the game (and more on this in a moment), seemingly made no mistakes through the day. He doubled up through Daniel Zack to get to 75,000 in chips, then knocked out Cary Katz and Eli Elezra to crack the 120,000 mark. When he took a big pot off Farzad Bonyadi and eliminated Nick Schulman, Brunson leapt over 300,000 chips and was among those at the top of the leaderboard.
Brunson’s ascension continued through the evening’s work. When 16 players remained, he sat on 440,000 in chips, good for fourth place in the tournament, and held his own as Ben Yu (15th place, $14,691), Paul Volpe (14th, $14,691), Mizrachi (13th, $14,691) and Illya Trincher (12th, $14,691) were eliminated in the last level of the night.
|Mike Wattel||1.293 million|
All totaled, the final 11 men have 24 World Series of Poker bracelets between them. Only Shawn Sheikhan, Galen Hall, Dario Sammartino and James Alexander have never won the gold. The battle for the championship will resume Tuesday afternoon.
Doyle Brunson Announces Retirement from All Poker Activities
In what was a stunning prelude to the start of the $10K Deuce to Seven event, living legend Doyle Brunson indicated over Twitter than this would be his final poker tournament ever and the end of his time on the felt.
Brunson was one of the handful of players who took advantage of late registration to get into the tournament before the start of Day 2, but it was a bittersweet moment. Hitting Twitter to talk to his 431,000-plus followers, Brunson tweeted: “Going to the Rio to play in 2-7 lowball tournament. Probably the last one I’ll ever play.” Brunson expounded on this to Remko Rinkema of Poker Central after arriving at the Rio on Monday.
“I’m planning on retiring after the summer. My wife (Louise, whom he married in 1962) is not in very good health, and I will stay with her for the duration of either her life or mine,” Brunson stated to Rinkema. “I’m going to stop playing completely … I might change my mind (but) I don’t think that I will. This will be the last time that my wife and I have to spend together and, right now, every day that I leave the house I feel guilty.”
If Brunson is sincere in his statement – and there is absolutely no reason to believe the true-to-his-word Texan isn’t – he will leave the game as arguably its most legendary player. Over the course of 60-plus years, Brunson has won 10 WSOP bracelets (tied for second all-time with Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey), a World Poker Tour title and several other events worldwide. He also plied his trade on the battleground of the best players – high-stakes cash games – and made a living from the game, earning his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1988.