WSOP TODAY: May 30; Powell & Waggoner run deep

Highlights from day 4 of the 2012 WSOP (May 30)

Julian Powell is firmly in the hunt to join the elite club of Australian WSOP bracelet winners heading into the final day of Event #3, the $3000 Heads-up No Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha Mix.

The field played down from 64 players to the final eight on day two, where Powell will be joined by David Benefield, Gregg Merkow, Jason Koon, Simeon Naydenov, Leif Force, Andy Frankenberger and the youngest ever WSOP gold bracelet winner Annette Obrestad.

• Brent Hanks (pictured left) was confirmed as the winner of the first open event of the 2012 WSOP, taking out Event #2, the $1500 No Limit Hold’em tournament. Hanks, a 29-year-old professional poker player, collected USD $517,725 in prize money. Prior to turning pro, Hanks was a fifth-grade schoolteacher.

With this victory, Hanks has accumulated almost USD $1 million in WSOP winnings alone. This was his 12th cash at the WSOP, a remarkable feat given his age. All of Hanks’ WSOP earnings have been achieved since 2008.

Three other WSOP bracelet winners final tabled this event –  Andrew Badecker (third), Vanessa Selbst (fourth) and J.P. Kelly (eighth).
Coincidentally, Selbst was the last female to win an open title at the WSOP after she claimed the $1500 Pot Limit Omaha championship in 2008. Also of note was Phil Hellmuth’s 61st-place finish in Event #2 – his 86th WSOP cash which, by far, makes him the all-time leader.

• In other events, the field in Event #4, the $1500 Seven-card Stud High-Low Split tournament, was slashed from 210 down to 23. Xuan Liu, from Canada, leads the pack while Australian Poker Hall of Famer Marsha Waggoner also remains in contention for the title. Others in the hunt include Cory Zeidman, Chris Bjorin, Linda Johnson, Frank Kassela, Michael Mizrachi, Jerrod Ankenman, Todd Brunson, Mike Sexton, Frankie O’Dell and Jimmy Fricke.

In Event #5, the $1500 Pot Limit Hold’em event, the field played down from 639 to 77. Antonio Esfandiari leads the field with notables James Mackey, Nam Le, John Juanda, Terrence Chan and Daniel Negreanu also in contention. They’re eyeing a prizepool of USD $862,650 while the winner will earn USD $189,818.

• One of the highlights of the opening week of the WSOP is undoubtedly Event #6, the $5000 Mixed-Max No Limit Hold’em tournament, which kick-off later today following a highly successful inaugural showing at 2011 WSOP Europe.

This split format NLHE event is played nine-handed on day one, six-handed on day two then heads-up until the winner is decided. Also kicking-off today is Event #7, a $1500 buy-in Seven-card Stud tournament that lasts three days.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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