The halfway point of the WSOP has come and there have been plenty of action, big scores, and even a few controversies. Through 37 events, there have been 61,616 entries, up from 60,677 in 2016. As for prize money, $81.48 million has been awarded with an average prize pool of $2.2 million. PokerNews has been there for every card dealt and every blind posted, and takes a look at some of the leaders who have separated themselves from the pack.
When it comes to total cashes, a few have jumped out to big numbers and have a chance at breaking the all-time record held by Roland Israelashvili (13) from last year. Here is a look at some of the leaders in the clubhouse.
Ryan Hughes: 9 cashes
No stranger to WSOP success, Hughes has two bracelets and has produced about $85,000 in winnings this summer. His best finish was fifth in the $10,000 Heads Up Championship for $56,909, and currently is sixth in the POY race. With $1.9 million in tournament winnings including $724,453 at the WSOP, Hughes’s resumé includes several nice wins at the Bellagio Cup and L.A. Poker Classic. His two bracelets came in 2007 and 2008 in $2,000 and $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better events. Hughes credits his success this summer with good cards and running well. A native of Tempe, Ariz., his favorite game is pot limit Omaha 8 or better, but just loves to play.
“I just play whatever is available,” he says. “I can play all the games, so play pretty much one or two events every single day.”
Back home, he’s a mixed game regular at Casino Arizona. Away from the tables, he enjoys bowling with friends – or maybe some Chinese poker.
Mike Leah: 9 cashes
The consummate poker pro, this Canadian currently sits in second in the POY race, an accomplishment he would like to add to his poker biography. He plays a packed schedule — sometimes four events in a single day — and his hard work has paid off. His biggest score so far was finishing seventh in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw Championship for $31,903. At this rate, however, a deep run could definitely be in the cards as he looks for a second bracelet.
Chris Ferguson: 8 cashes
Not exactly welcomed back by the poker world, Ferguson seems to have taken his role as poker bad guy in stride. While he hasn’t made a final table, Ferguson continued the big run he began in 2016 (10 cashes) by finishing fourth in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship for $183,989. Topping his number of cashes from last year seems likely as he continues to search for a bigger score.
John Racener: 8 cashes
This longtime pro is off and running. With 48 lifetime WSOP cashes for more than $8 million, his success continues this summer including adding a second bracelet in the $10,000 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Championship ($273,962). The Florida native has numerous big finishes on several tours/events (WPT, L.A. Poker Classic, PCA, WSOP-Circuit), and will be looking for another final table in the WSOP’s second half, which could vault him up even higher in the POY race (he is currently fourth).
Alex Foxen: 8 cashes
While focusing mostly on the smaller buy-in events, this former Boston College tight end has found some nice scores but searching for that first final table. He came close in the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw, finishing ninth for $5,530. Foxen finished 15th in the $10,000 Tag Team event with partner Chance Kornuth and took home $7,392. His biggest WSOP cash came in 2016, when he finished 109th for $49,108. A five- or six-figure score has eluded him so far, but his track record is building.
Aron Dermer: 8 cashes
Dermer has cashed in several poker variants and buy-ins ranging from $565 to $10,000. His biggest was 13th in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship for $19,000. He’s still looking for a first final table this summer, but has been on a nice run with over $50,000 in cashes. Three were deep runs – 13th, 16th, and 22nd – and his summer could have been even better.
“I think I played the $1,500 six-max and four off the money I had kings and ran into aces,” he says. “And then, the other $1,500 limit tournament I finished four off the money. And now I just finished two off the money here in this [$10k,000 limit] one.”
A native of Miami, Dermer says being so close when play grinds along at a snail’s pace as the bubble approaches can be mentally draining. A friend of the Mizrachi brothers, he’s been coming to the WSOP for several years to sweat them. Now he’s inside the rail and making it work. Coming into the WSOP, Dermer had limited tournament results with only six other tournament cashes. H.O.R.S.E. seems to be a favorite, as he has three cashes in the game over the last two years. After busting out, Dermer was ready to jump right into another tournament.
“I’m going to get the ninth cash anyway in the next tournament,” he said. “Ain’t nothing gonna stop me!”
EARNING AND BURNING
When it comes to ranking players by earnings, many of poker’s bigger names rise to the top. The top five on this list not only spotlight some brilliant poker talent, but highlight the game’s growth internationally with an American, Frenchman, Italian, and two Canadians leading the pack. It’s time to back the Brinks truck up.
Doug Polk: $3.7 million
A social media favorite, Polk has two cashes – one a crucial victory in the $111,111 One Drop High Roller for $3,686,865. The win secured his third bracelet in an event stacked with pros, a testament to his skills at the table. Originally from Pasadena, Calif., Polk now calls Las Vegas home and is the proprietor of training site UpswingPoker.com with friend Ryan Fee. He’s become a poker media maven providing commentary as well as analysis and news via his YouTube channel.
Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier: $2.3 million
Finishing runner-up in the One Drop High Roller helps pad the earnings of this popular Frenchman, and he added two more cashes since notching the $2,278,657 score. Grospellier has more than $13 million in tournament winnings including big scores at some of the world’s biggest events (Asia Millions, WPT, EPT). He scored a bracelet in the 2011 $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship for $331,639 and looking to add his second.
Dario Sammartino: $1.7 million
Sammartino’s third-place money of $1,608,295 from the One Drop builds his total, but he added to that with three other cashes. Two stand out: 15th in the $10,000 Heads Up Championship, $24,881; and ninth in the $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Championship, $19,187. The Italian came into the WSOP with several nice scores in 2017 including a third-place finish in the €25,750 PokerStars Championship High Roller in Monte Carlo for $419,375. His pre-WSOP year includes six final table appearances this year with first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth-place finishes. He’d love to add a bracelet to that list.
Pablo Mariz: $1.3 million
It’s been a great summer for this native of Quebec, Canada. A win in the Millionaire Maker for $1,221,407 and his first bracelet is already a major achievement, but he also kicked off his summer with a runner-up finish in the $1,000 Tag Team for $46,537 with teammate David Guay. He also notched two more small cashes and it looks to be a breakout summer for Mariz after limited tournament results. With plenty of events left, Mariz even has his sights on Player of the Year, where he currently sits third.
Haralabos Voulgaris: $1.2 million
All of Voulgaris’s total this summer comes from his fourth-place finish in the One Drop High Roller. His only other WSOP cash came in 2011 in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed (24th for $24,942). However, Voulgaris, of Winnipeg, Canada, has more than $3 million in tournament winnings including several five- and six-figure scores at tours and events ranging from the EPT to the LA Poker Classic to the Borgata Poker Open.
With plenty more action on the way, the leaderboards and Player of the Year race should be interesting to follow and PokerNews will be there until the final cards are dealt.
All stats are courtesy WSOP.com and are as of Thursday, June 22