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It was all about The Colossus on Friday at the 2015 World Series of Poker. The $5 Million guaranteed event will set the all-time attendance record for live poker. Both flights sold out and late wave players were added to the event.

The money bubble burst in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo and two-time bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi headlines the final 49. Finally, actor James Woods headlines a pro heavy $3,000 NL Hold’em Shootout final table featuring three bracelet winners, a high-stakes cash pro and a pro looking to break through for his first bracelet.

Michael Wang Wins $5,000 NL Event – Greg Merson Fourth

The $5,000 NL Hold’em Event resumed on Friday with just 20 players remaining, all looking to earn a spot at the first open-event final table of the series. Carl Westcott started the day as chip leader while 2012 Main Event champion Greg Merson started third.

It took less than three levels to thin the field from 20 to 9. Westcott couldn’t get anything going on Friday and fell in 12th place. David “Doc” Sands was in good chip position to start the day but continuously picked up the second best hand throughout the day. Ultimately, he bubbled the final table, finishing in 10th.

Greg Merson thrived early on Day 3 and started the final table as the chip leader. Play was initially scheduled to conclude on Saturday but the quick pace of play allowed for an earlier finish.

Here are your final table participants and their starting stacks:

  • Seat 1: Long Nguyen – 1,554,000
  • Seat 2: Joe Ebanks – 725,000
  • Seat 3: Greg Merson – 2,066,000
  • Seat 4: Amir Lehavot – 1,302,000
  • Seat 5: Jason Wheeler – 814,000
  • Seat 6: Byron Kaverman – 94,000
  • Seat 7: Bryn Kenney – 1,824,000
  • Seat 8: Artur Koren – 1,412,000
  • Seat 9: Michael Wang – 764,000

With five players left, Michael Wang started to catch fire and it all began with a double-up through Greg Merson. Wang was all-in pre-flop with pocket kings and was well ahead Merson’s pocket jacks. The board missed both players and Wang moved up to 840,000. A bit later, Wang doubled again when his Ks-Qc outran the Ah-2h of Artur Koren.

As Wang rose, Merson fell. He found himself as the short stack with four players left and ultimately decided to go to war with Ad-Js. After Merson opened for 100,000, Bryn Kenney shoved. Merson called and found he was flipping against pocket threes. The board ran out middling cards and Merson hit the rail in fourth place.

Two hands after Merson’s elimination, heads-up play was reached. Artur Koren raised to 110,000 and Kenney shoved with Ks-Qh. Koren woke up with pocket queens and made the quick calling looking to double-up. The queens would fail to hold as a king fell on the river to take us to heads-up play.

At the start of heads-up play, Bryn Kenney held a 7:1 chip lead over Michael Wang. Remember when we said Wang caught fire? Heads-up is where he burned Kenney. It started with an early double when his pocket fives held against the Ac-6s of Kenney.

From there, Wang steadily chipped up until he had evened the playing field After a bit of back and forth between the two; the tournament was decided in two massive hands.

In the first hand, Wang flopped the nut straight and bet for value on each street. Wang took a sizable chip lead after this hand and would seal the deal after a monster final hand.

By the river, the board read Qh-Kh-8c-9d-10h and Kenney bet 1.64 million. Wang tanked a bit and moved all-in. Kenney didn’t appear to like the situation but eventually called and flipped over 9h-6h for a flush. Wang showed Jh-2h for the higher flush and the title.

Michael Wang wins the first open-field bracelet of 2015 and $466,120 in prize money. Congratulations.

Actor James Woods Makes Pro Heavy Shootout Final Table

A few years ago, actor James Woods played a poker-playing hotshot lawyer named “Shark.” That nickname seems more appropriate than ever following his performance in the $3,000 NL Hold’em Shootout on Friday. Woods won his Round 2 table and defeated Doug Polk heads-up to make the final table.

Day 2 of the $3,000 NL Hold’em Shootout started with 40 players looking to make the final table. Each table in Round 2 was played four-handed with the winner at each making the final table.

The most interesting table was the one featuring pro Doug Polk and James Woods. The pair started heads-up play relatively even and this began a long heads-up battle between the two that saw multiple lead changes and some of the best heads-up action in recent memory.

Eventually the match was decided by Polk picking a bad time to shove with a weak ace. After a raise by Woods from the button, Polk shoved with Ah-5d and Woods immediately called with Ac-10c. Polk was dominated and needed help.

The flop 7s-4d-4h missed both players but the turn 3s gave Polk a straight draw. Woods was able to fade Polk’s outs as the 9h fell and sent Woods to the final table.

This is the first career WSOP final table for Woods but he will have a daunting task ahead of him later today. Bracelet winners Brian Lemke, Loni Harwood and Leo Wolpert all made Saturday’s final as well as high-stakes cash pro Andreas Hoivold. David Peters also made the final table and is looking for his first career bracelet.

The final table of this event will resume at 2 pm later today and play until a champion is crowned.

Vandemheen Leads $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo – Robert Mizrachi 13th

The $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo resumed on Friday with 358 players looking to make the money in this first non-Hold’em bracelet event of 2015. Tony Ma and Tony Paur started the day as chip leaders but only one would make the money in the event. By the end of the day, we have a better idea of who will contend for this bracelet and one of poker’s top mixed game players is still in the hunt headed into Saturday.

The first order of business was to reach the money in this event. Limit tournaments can be a grind and today was no exception. It took several levels to reach the money but once we did, the field thinned quickly.

Even the pros fall victim to the bubble. Scott Clements was the unfortunate bubble boy of this event. He put the last of his chips into play on a flop of 10h-8h-7s and was called by James Juvancic. Clements showed Ac-Kc-7d-5h for bottom pair only while Juvancic showed Jh-9h-5d-2d for a flopped straight and a straight flush draw. The turn 8d left Clements drawing dead and the remaining 117 players were in the money.

The field thinned by over half in the last couple of levels. Some of the players that fell after the money bubble burst were Dutch Boyd, Jason Potter, Steve Billirakis, Chris Bjorin, Bart Hanson, Eli Elezra, Ari Engle, Allen Cunningham, Miami John Cernuto, Captain Tom Franklin, and Taylor Paur.

Play was halted at the end of level 20 and Kelly Vandemheen finished as the overall chip leader with 466,00. Thomas Taylor is second overall in chips with 288,000. Two-time bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi is currently 13th with 184,000. Mizrachi is one of the games premier mixed game players and will be a contender for this title.

Play will resume in this event later today at 2 pm PDT and is scheduled to continue until a champion is crowned.

Colossus Draws Monster Crowds – Durekas and O’Hara Lead After Opening Flights

The event to set the all-time attendance mark for live events finally kicked off on Friday. The $565 Colossus kicked off with the first of two opening flights with both flights selling out and taking on late wave participants.

Every available space possible was filled by WSOP staff on Friday with extra tables being setup in places never used for poker in the past, including the poker kitchen. Many likened the atmosphere to the Main Event while others called it an “organized” circus environment.

How many players entered the event on Friday? We frankly don’t know and likely won’t know until Saturday. The last estimates given by WSOP.com put the number at around 5,000 players in the opening flights. What we do know is how many survived the first two flights.

Flight A that kicked off at 10 a.m. PDT on Friday saw 804 players advance to play Day 2 on Sunday. Ty Durekas finished the first flight as chip leader with 179,100. Just 18 players cracked the 100,000 mark in Flight A with Duc Tran being among the most notable.

Other notable players advancing to Day 2 from Flight A include Dan O’Brien (75,400), Dan Heimiller (60,800), Jeremy Ausmus (58,000), David “ODB” Baker (37,200), Susie Isaacs (36,000), Allen Kessler (22,700) and Eddy Sabat (13,200).

Flight B was pushed back to a 7 p.m. PDT start time due to adding a level to Flight A. After 11 rounds, a field of around 720 players will join the 804 from Flight A on Sunday. Ian O’Hara emerged as the Flight B chip leader with 175,000. Brandon Shane is right behind him with 135,000.

Other notable players that advanced to Sunday play from Flight B included Chris Moorman, James Mackey, Steve Zolotow, and Ronnie Bardah.

The final two flights of the Colossus will dominate the Rio later today starting at 10 a.m. PDT. By the end of the day we will know the final numbers and how much will go to the eventual winner.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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