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The World Series of Poker Is Back With Live Bracelet Event Action At The Rio

The WSOP Returns After A More Than 800-Day Hiatus

by Erik Fast |  Published: Nov 03, 2021

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The World Series of Poker returned for the first live bracelet series in over 800 days on Sept. 30, 2021. This time around, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory, and instead of the usual summer timeslot, the series is taking place in the fall (running through Nov. 23). But outside of those notable changes, things are largely back to normal at the WSOP this year.

“We’ve spent the last 26 months dreaming of the return of the WSOP live and in-person to the Rio, and it feels incredible to say, today is that day,” said WSOP Senior Vice President Ty Stewart. “There is nothing like the WSOP live with each day making history — from the unforgettable wins to the overwhelming upsets — it’s an unmatched experience. We are incredibly appreciative of those who have traveled near and far to be back in Las Vegas with us, as well as our team members and partners considering it takes a huge village to pull this event off.”

The first eight live bracelet events to reach their conclusion collectively drew 16,362 entries, building up more than $13.6 million in prize money. Two online bracelet events were also held in the first week of action, adding another 898 entries and $1.2 million that was paid out.

Early Winners At The Series

The first day of play saw plenty of long lines as players waited to officially prove their vaccination status. It also played host to the first three of the 88 planned live events and 11 online bracelet tournaments.

As is tradition, the $500 buy-in Casino Employees event was the very first to get cards in the air, while the $25,000 buy-in HORSE tournament marked the beginning of the high-stakes segment of the schedule in the afternoon. The $1,000 buy-in COVID-19 Relief Charity Event rounded out the evening of day 1. While it started last, the fast-paced charity event was the first to come to a conclusion. Jeremy Ausmus earned the first bracelet of the series, topping a field of 260 total entries to earn his second career bracelet and the first-place prize of $48,681 after just eight hours of play.

“This final table was less than an hour and a half, and last night I registered at 9:00 and played until 3:30, so it was like eight hours to win a tournament,” Ausmus told Card Player. “The turbos are a lot of fun. You just get all-in a lot and try to win, and I won most of my all-ins.”

Caesars Palace poker dealer Jimmy Barnett topped a field of 419 entries to win the $500 buy-in casino employees event, earning a bracelet and $39,013 in prize money. It was the largest score of the 36-year-old’s playing career.

The $25,000 HORSE event was the next to wrap up. The poker world watched on as Phil Hellmuth and several other multi-time WSOP winners battled it out during the final day of the high-stakes mixed game tournament, with each hoping to add to their bracelet collections. In the end, it was Pennsylvania business owner Jesse Klein who came out on top with his first bracelet and $552,182. Hellmuth fell just short in his latest run at a record-furthering 16th bracelet, placing sixth for $95,329.

The first weekend of the series played host to the premiere lower buy-in, large-field event of the series. The $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em event known as the ‘The Reunion’ attracted a massive field of 12,973 to easily surpass the $5 million guarantee, creating a final prize pool of $5,499,500. In the end it was Long Ma who emerged with the lion’s share of that money, earning $513,604 and his first bracelet. The 35-year-old knocked out each and every one of his four remaining opponents on the final day.

Connor Drinan became the second player to win their second bracelet during the early days of this year’s series, following in Ausmus’ footsteps. He came out on top of a field of 607 entries in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha eight-or-better event, locking up $163,252 and his second piece of WSOP hardware. The 32-year-old poker pro now has more than $13 million in total career tournament earnings to his name, including the more than $1.4 million he earned when he took down the final bracelet event of the 2020 WSOP Online.

The $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em eight max event was won by Tyler Cornell, who first made his debut on the live tournament circuit over 13 years ago. The 33-year-old San Diego-based poker pro has accumulated more than 200 cashes since then, but remained without a live tournament title heading into this year’s series. The former online specialist finally broke that streak by defeating a field of 135 entries in this prestigious high-stakes event to secure his first gold bracelet and the huge top prize of $833,289.

The $1,500 dealers choice six-max event featured 20 different games for players to choose from. A total of 307 players came out, building a prize pool of $409,845. Canada’s Jaswinder ‘Jesse’ Lally was the last player standing, earning $97,915 and his first gold bracelet for the win. The 58-year-old from Vancouver was down to just 900 in chips on the first day of play, but battled back for the win.

Michael Perrone survived the action-packed $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em super turbo bounty event, outlasting a field of 1,640 entries over the course of one mammoth 16-hour day. The recent WPT Choctaw final tablist earned $152,173 and his first bracelet for his victory in the fast-paced event.

A Pair of Poker Pros Earn Their Second Bracelets On The Internet

The first two online bracelet events taking place alongside the in-person WSOP were held on Sunday, Oct. 3. These two events were both hosted on WSOP.com and available to players physically located within the borders of Nevada and New Jersey at the time of play.

The first of these pair of events was the $5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em freezeout. A 156-player turnout built a prize pool of $780,000 which was paid out among the top 30 finishers. Martin ‘Bathroomline’ Zamani was the last man standing, securing his second career bracelet, with both having come in online events. Zamani won his first bracelet in the $888 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event during the WSOP Online earlier this year. In addition to the hardware, Zamani also took home $210,600 for the third-largest payday of his career.

Like Zamani, the winner of the second online event had also previously won a WSOP bracelet on the internet. Mark ‘NJ_AcesmarkA’ Herm outlasted a field of 742 entries in the ‘Big 500’ no-limit hold’em event. Herm had made history earlier this year by becoming the first player to ever win a bracelet in his home state of Pennsylvania, having taken down the $500 buy-in ‘Keystone Kickoff’ no-limit hold’em event during the first-ever WSOP Online Pennsylvania series held in August. Pennsylvania had only launched online poker roughly a month prior to that series being held. Herm, who recently appeared on Card Player’s Poker Stories podcast, took home $89,356 for his second online bracelet victory.