The weekend was jammed with winners, losers and spectators crowding around the rails of the 44th Annual World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The excitement over at the “One Drop” tourney quickly got intense when it looked, for a moment, like Antonio Esfandiari was going to take it again. Then the noise from the rails became deafening when instead of Esfandiari, it was 26-year-old poker pro Anthony Gregg who raked in all the poker chips. Gregg, who is no stranger in the High-Roller world-wide circuits, walked off with the win plus his first WSOP gold bracelet and the crazy payout of $4,830,619 after quickly stomping through the final four players, including Esfandiari who finished 4th.
At the other end of the spectrum playing out at the Rio on Saturday was Brandon Wong, a 38-year-old poker professional from Fresno, California. Wong has been honing his skills for more than 10 years by making the rounds at cash games throughout California and Nevada. Finally all that grinding has led to his first WSOP title, gold bracelet and a payday of $220,061. He outlasted a field of 372 players in event 50, a $2,200 10-Game Mix Six-Handed tournament.
58-year-old Barney Boatman finally floats to victory in event 49, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Boatman has been around the WSOP for a long time and has cashed more than 20 times, but the championship title and bracelet have always been out of reach. That is until early Sunday morning, when he found himself at the final table heads-up against a considerable opponent, Brian O’Donoghue. Boatman could smell the win but it took 276 hands to finally take O’Donoghue out with trip tens and win his first gold bracelet and $546,080.
The Canadians marked yet another win when Kristen Bicknell, from St. Catherines, Ontario, picked up her first gold bracelet by taking down a field of 954 players in event 51 $10,000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold’em tournament.. 26-year-old Bicknell took home the championship title, the bracelet and a sweet purse of $173,922.
And finally, in the wee hours this morning, as many of the still-awake players were yawning, 28-year-old Steve Sung was probably singing “We Are The Champions” or something like that. Sung won his second WSOP gold medal a full four years after the first one. This time he held strong and outlasted 173 players to go heads-up with Phil Galfond in event 52, a notable $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event at the 44th Annual World Series of Poker. Sung not only takes home his second gold bracelet and WSOP championship title but he also pockets more than a million bucks . . . $1,205,324 dollars to be exact.