The $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) kicked the Series off with a bang by shattering attendance records and drawing droves of entrants. Event #2 broke the record for largest non-Main Event field in WSOP history with an astounding 6,012—shattering the previous record of 3,929 entrants. The huge field generated a $5.4 million prize pool with a $771,106 first place prize.
There were several unique components about this event. First of all, it is one of the very few $1,000 buy-in non-rebuy open events in recent WSOP history. While some events, like the casino employees’, ladies’ and seniors’ events offer a $1,000 buy-in, most of the open field preliminary events start at $1,500. This year WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and his staff elected to add this discounted buy-in event, referred to as the “Stimulus Special” in an attempt to draw crowds during rough economic times. The event also offered two starting days in order to accommodate as many entrants as possible.
These changes resulted in the enormous field that packed every corner of the Rio and featured a wide range of players including several professionals. Will “The Thrill” Failla, WPT Champion JC Tran, Brent Roberts, Nikolay Evdakov, Lee Watkinson, Full Tilt Pro Amanda Baker, Steve Sung and WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller all made deep runs in the event packed with amateur and recreational players. Tran, who has a reputation for building chip stacks quickly in events, finished as the overall chipleader from both Day Ones, but was unable to continue that momentum to the final table. He finished in 68th place.
Tran still had a rooting interest in the event though, as his close friend Sung made the final table of the event along with Heimiller, 69-year old WSOP bracelet winner Peter “The Greek” Vilandos and tournament circuit regular Danny Fuhs. Heimiller went into the final table with a substantial chip lead and over four million chips with Sung right behind him with 3.4 million himself. Fuhs was the shortest stack at the table and made an early exit in 9th place and Heimiller went card dead midway through the nearly nine hour-long final table and busted in sixth place.
Heads-up play came down to a battle between relatively new Sung and old school poker player Vilandos. In the end youth prevailed over experience and Sung won his first WSOP bracelet when his pocket kings were able to withstand Vilandos’ pocket eights on the last hand of play.
While Sung, 24, may be young, he is certainly not inexperienced. He has four WSOP final tables and two WPT final tables to his credit, but failed to have a high profile victory on his poker resume. With his win on Tuesday, he was able to remedy that problem and expressed his relief in his post-victory interview.
“I feel amazing,” Sung said. “I feel that this big monkey is off my back. It feels amazing to win. I am speechless right now. Maybe in a week it will hit me that I really won. But right now, I am not believing this.”
When Sung is not playing the live circuit in the States, he is a part of the team of players representing the Asian Poker Tour (APT). Those interested in competing in the upcoming APT can satellite their way into the event via Party Poker.

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