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Math Wizard Wins 2006 WSOP Limit Hold'em Bracelet

Day 2 of $2,000 Omaha and $5,000 No Limit Hold'em Kicks Off


A limit final table, a $5,000 buy-in event and Omaha - oh my! Nearly every type of poker animal inhabited the Rio's Amazon Room and the sights, sounds, and yes, even smells, transformed the massive convention area into a veritable poker jungle.

$3,000 Limit Hold'em Final Table

Limit, the game many players cut their teeth on before moving to no limit, took center stage at the World Series today with the $3,000 Limit Hold'em final table. Poker's "little brother" drew fan attention, and the trappings of the ESPN televised set (albeit without the film crew) as nine players battled for the first-place prize of $343,618 and the coveted gold bracelet.

The chip counts coming into the final table were as follows:

1. Karlo Lopez - $227,000
2. Yueqi "Rich" Zhu - $221,000
3. Henry Nguyen - $189,000
4. Jeffery Lisandro - $153,000
5. Allan Puzantyan - $144,000
6. William Chen - $122,000
7. Ernie Scherer III - $118,000
8. Larry Thomas - $59,000
9. Danny Ciasamella - $38,000

With the restrictions placed on betting amounts and volume, limit poker tends to feature eliminations brought on more by attrition than explosion or implosion. So how long does it take for a player to be knocked out in a limit poker final table? In today's event - roughly two hours. Jeffery Lisandro, a famous high-stakes cash game player, bowed out of the tournament at 4 p.m. He flopped a set of treys only to have Rich Zhu turn the nut flush. Lisandro's ninth-place finish was good enough for a $22,908 payday.

If the 2006 limit final table was about endurance, then fatigue started to set in during hour three. Ernie Scherer (eighth, $34,362), Allan Puzantyan (seventh, $45,816), Larry Thomas (sixth, $57,270), and Danny Ciasamella (fifth, 68,724) all busted during this time.

In classic limit fashion, Karlo Lopez suffered a slow demise as he watched his chip stack steadily decline with each passing level. The chip leader coming into the final table, Lopez was forced to throw in his final $5,000 preflop with the marginal Qspade 4diamond and was called by William Chen, who held Kspade 7heart. The Kheart Jclub Jspade 9spade 7club board gave Chen two pair and he eliminated Lopez in 4th place ($80,178).

In a similar situation, Henry Nguyen tossed his last $5,000 chip into the pot preflop, and Chen gobbled up that paltry offering with a straight. Nguyen finished third and earned $91,632 for his effort.

Chen entered heads-up action roughly a $200,000 dog to Zhu, but took the lead after only a few hands and never looked back. The quantitative analyst, who received a six-week sabbatical from his employer, Susquehenna International Group, to participate in the WSOP, built his chip stack to over $1 million, nearly 10 times Zhu's stack.

At 10:16 p.m., Chen put Zhu all in on a Qheart 7spade 4heart 3spade board. Zhu called and showed 10heart 5diamond, but Chen took a commanding lead when he flipped up Aheart 4diamond. The Qspade river offered Zhu no help, and Chen eliminated him with two pair.

Zhu, a Rowland Heights, California native, netted $184,409 for his second-place finish.

Chen told the media that the accomplishment of winning a WSOP bracelet ranked among his most satisfying personal achievements, but then added, "I have to admit, the money is nice."

With a $343,618 first-place prize, Chen, a math genius (he is the coauthor of a book coming out soon titled The Mathematics of Poker), apparently also possesses a pretty good sense of humor.

$2,000 Omaha High-Low Eight-or-Better - Day 2

Out of a starting field of 670, only 61 players returned for the second day of the $2,000 Omaha high-low eight-or-better event. While the feat of finishing in the money provided some level of satisfaction, each of the survivors still had one goal in mind: making the final table.

Daniel Negreanu and Sean Sheikhan mixed it up early in the action, and appeared equally intent on knocking the other out as reaching the final table. The two pros exchanged potshots, both verbally and on the felt, for a better part of the first hour. On one hand, Sheikhan bluffed Negreanu out of a hand, and then said to the rest of the table, "Look at Kid Poker. Look at his face."

Negreanu, however, won the war. He advanced onto the final table while Sheikhan exited during the day's action.

Other notable names to bust during day 2 included John Juanda, David Levi, Andrew Bloch, and Huck Seed, who exited the tournament in 11th place ($13,413).

Allen Mittelman finished as the day's 10th and final elimination and play concluded at 9:53 p.m.

The chip counts going into the final table are as follows:

1. Jeff Madsen - $225,000
2. Jack Zwerner - $189,000
3. Daniel Negreanu - $166,000
4. Robert Mangino - $165,000
5. Florante "Rusty" Mandap - $156,100
6. Robert Collins - $156,000
7. Russ Salzer - $142,000
8. Cong Do - $99,000
9. Steve Lustig - $31,000

Players return for final table action at 2 p.m. PDT.

$5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Event

The $5,000 no-limit hold'em, arguably one of the most prestigious WSOP tournaments, kicked off and the early message was clear: serious players only need apply.

The steep buy-in dictated that, besides satellite winners, the majority of the starting field of 622 consisted of big-money players and big-time poker stars. For the first time in the 2006 WSOP, fan turnout for a day 1 event dwarfed the attendance for a day 2 and a final table. Nearly every table featured at least one well-known pro, and the number of railbirds reflected the drawing power of poker's ever growing star system.

Phil Hellmuth proved the biggest news, and generated the most buzz, on a day loaded with talent. He extended his all-time leading WSOP cash finishes record by surviving past the money bubble for the 52nd time. Hellmuth, who claimed that his concern is bracelets and not cash finishes, ended the day third in chips ($126,300), putting himself in good position to make a final table run.

The final 60 players return tomorrow to continue the quest for the first-place prize of $818,546 and one of the WSOP's most revered bracelets.

Stay tuned to for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, and for new episodes of "The Circuit" and "The Series."