WSOP TODAY: July 1; Rast leads Big One, Smirnov’s fold, Selbst wins #2

Highlights from day 36 of the 2012 WSOP (July 1)

What a day! Three gold bracelet final tables were completed including the 2012 Ladies World Poker Championship. Meanwhile, more than 3166 players began Saturday’s $1500 No Limit Hold’em tournament, which continued with day two. Then, another 3221 participants jammed the Rio for Sunday’s event. If that’s not enough, the long-awaited $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop finally arrived.

Of the 48 starters, 11 players hit the rail – Justin Smith, Jonathan Duhamel, Andrew Robl, Jens Kyllonen, Paul Phua, Erik Seidel, Bertrand Grospelier, Nick Schulman, Eugene Katchalov, Michael Mizrachi and Giovanni Guarascio.

Two-time gold bracelet winner Brian Rast, best known for his victory in last year’s $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship, is the chip leader on 10,710,000.

The man who finished second to Rast in the 2011 Poker Players Championship, Phil Hellmuth, is second in chips with 8,395,000. Filling the top 10 are Frederique Banjout (7,070,000), Antonio Esfandiari (6,880,000), Gus Hansen (6,800,000), Sam Trickett (6,700,000), Guy Laliberte (6,550,000), Ben Lamb (5,770,000), Mike Sexton (5,740,000) and Tom Dwan (4,810,000).

However, most of the talk from day one of the Big One for One Drop centred on Mikhail Smirnov’s stunning fold of quad eights. Smirnov held pocket eights. He caught a third eight on the flop, which came Js-8c-7s. Smirnov bet out and John Morgan called instantly. The turn brought the 8s. This time, Smirnov fired another bet into the pot with Morgan again making the call.

The river brought the Ks, Smirnov bet 700,000, Morgan stalled for a few seconds, and then announced “all in” for about 3.4 million in chips. After tanking for several minutes, the Russian folded his pocket eights face up. Did Morgan hold 10s-9s for the straight flush? We’ll never know.

• Vanessa Selbst (pictured above, with thanks to underlined her status as one of the best in the game with victory in the $2500 buy-in Six-Handed Ten-Game Mix tournament. The Yale graduate and poker superstar from New York City defeated an elite line-up of 421 players playing a mixed rotation of 10 poker games.

Selbst pocketed $244,259 in prize money and was also presented with her second WSOP gold bracelet. Selbst’s first WSOP victory took place in 2008, in a Pot Limit Omaha event. Entering this year’s WSOP, she was the last female to win an open event.

And in a historic day for women in poker, Yen Dang, a 29-year-old Vietnamese-born professional poker player from Denver, Colorado won the $1000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, otherwise known as the 2012 Ladies Poker World Championship.

Dang defeated a diverse line-up of 936 players, many of who came to Las Vegas specifically to participate in this event. The ladies-only tournament began in 1978. Dang pocketed the handsome sum of $170,587 in prize money. She was also presented with her first WSOP gold bracelet.

• More gold is up for grab today with Event #53, a $1500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em down to 28 players from a starting field of 3166. Hugh Henderson, from Belton, SC is the current chip leader. Melbourne’s Haibo Chu is also in great shape, lying 10th in chips. Another $1500 No Limit Hold’em bracelet event (#56) also starts today.

A total of 265 players will be back for day two in Event #54, the $1000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em. Jonas Mackoff and Clayton Fletcher are currently tied for the chip lead with 148,500 while Aussies Grant Levy and Gary Benson will also be back today.

• Additional reporting, Nolan Dalla,

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