Here's a photographical look at the early action at the 2012 World Series of Poker.
The 42nd Annual World Series of Poker started on May 27th with 61 brand new bracelets to give away. Here's a quick visual recap of the early action and the first eight event winners.
A slimmer, trimmer Jack Effel welcomed 732 Casino Employees to the Amazon Room for Event #1, a $500 buy-in tournament just for them.
The following day, the final nine congregated in the main featured table arena to play for the summer's first big prize.
Chiab Saechao put on a tidy performance to earn himself a bracelet and $70,859.
Event #2 was the first open event, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em that attracted 2101 players on Memorial Day weekend.
The Jason Mercier run-good rubbed off on close friend Brent Hanks. Hanks wasted no time snagging a bracelet of his own in Event #2. Along with the jewelry, he received more than a half-million dollars in cash. Yeahp!
Event #3 was the verbosely named $3,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em/Pot-Limit Omaha. A total of 317 players entered the event, and it ended with these two men playing for the title.
On one side of the table was Leif Force. Poker boomers know that face. He won more than $1 million for an 11th-place finish in the largest WSOP Main Event ever. He did quite well back in 2006, and he put on another strong performance in this 2012 event, too.
On the other side, Jason Koon, who was playing at his first WSOP final table. Koon has been posting some serious results in the last two years, but he was still in search of an elusive first victory.
But the victory belonged to Leif Force that day, and he collected his first bracelet. Force is pictured here sharing a few moments of his victory with girlfriend, Andrea. First place was worth more than $200,000 for them.
Cory Zeidman (left) made the final table of the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low 8-or-Better event for the second year in a row. In 2011, he had to settle for sixth place. But in 2012, he found himself playing heads-up with a chip lead against Chris Bjorin.
Zeidman got the job done this time around, securing the bracelet and more than $200,000 for the win.
Illinois' Nick Jivkov won Event #5, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event. Winners are presented with their bracelets on stage the following day, and Jivkov also collected $189,818 from the cage.
Event #6 was a new event for the 2012 WSOP, the $5,000 Mixed-Max. Play began nine-handed, then shrunk to six- for Day 2, then finished in a heads-up bracket for the final 32 players.
Four days were allotted to crown a champion, but when four days had nearly come and gone, the final two players were still sitting around waiting to play.
France's Aubin Cazals had a top-five stack heading into the heads-up portion of the event, and he parlayed that into a spot in the finals. Cazals defeated Eric Froehlich, Toby Lewis, Adam Geyer, and a tough Aussie named Warwick Mirzikinian. How tough? It took Cazals more than nine hours to defeat him.
On the other side of the match was Joseph Cheong, the former November Niner. His path to the finals went through Nabih Zaczac, Brock Parker, Fabrizio Baldassari, and Hugo Lemaire.
Because the Cazals vs. Mirzikinian match had gone so long, playing the final became an issue. It was already almost 11 p.m., and the prospect of another nine-hour match wasn't thrilling to anyone. Cheong had a big stack in another event, too, so they decided to come back early the next day. They settled on 9:00 a.m., in fact, which would have made it the earliest WSOP final table in history. The two are seen here discussing the decision with WSOP staff members.
But Cheong ended up busting his other stack, so the two returned at the more sensible hour of noon to settle the score.
Cazals was intently focused on his goal, and he went to work grinding away at Cheong's chips.
The first three hours were evenly matched, but Cazals closed out the match dutifully over the course of the next two.
Cheong had to settle for second, and it was Cazals clutching the bracelet and more than $480,000.
Event #7, the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event always a great mix of players, and three days of fantastic poker culminated in a star-studded final table.
The table was soon reduced to just two players, with three-time bracelet winner Barry Greenstein looking for a fourth.
Across the felt was the one of the men on the dreaded "best poker player without a bracelet" list, Andy Bloch. The math whiz has nearly $5 million in tournament winnings, but he had come up short in each of his previous WSOP final table appearances.
Not this time. Bloch was soon sitting alone with bracelet number one and a check worth $126,363.
We'll finish with Event #8, the $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event that drew just shy of 1,000 players. Gavin Griffin was one of them. He won a bracelet in 2004, and after three days of play in this event, he found himself heads-up for another one.
But in his way stood Herbert Tapscott, a mixed-game grinder from the south working on his first career WSOP cash.
His first cash turned out well for him. It was worth more than a quarter-million dollars for Tapscott, plus a gold bracelet just for good measure.
Oh yeah, and Phil Ivey is back bracelet hunting at the WSOP, too. By the way.
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