Leaving aside the limited field found in Event #1: $565 Casino Employee’s No Limit Hold’em, the first week of 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) action has been led by former Main Event winners.
The first open event of the series – Event #2: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No Limit Hold’em – was won by Elio Fox, an American pro who captured the WSOP Europe Main Event title in 2011.
Appearing on the WSOP schedule for the first time ever, the Super Turbo Bounty event featured a frenetic pace with 20-minute blind levels. And players earned a $3,000 cash bounty whenever they eliminated an opponent from the field.
The unique tournament garnered 243 entrants, and when the final table of nine was set, Fox found himself facing off against a fellow Main Event winner in Joe Cada.
Known as “The Kid” back when he won the 2009 WSOP Main Event as a 21-year old, Cada couldn’t spin his short stack up and bowed out in 9th place ($27,582).
Fox did manage to score an early double at the final table, one which propelled him to three-handed play against fellow bracelet winner Paul Volpe and Adam Adler. When Fox bested Volpe to bust him in 3rd place ($169,195), he had the inside track against Adler, who recorded a runner-up finish ($253,343).
After securing $393,693 in prize money along with his second gold bracelet – his first at the WSOP proper in Las Vegas – Fox told industry media outlets including PokerNews how he felt about the Super Turbo Bounty format:
“Bounty turbo formats appear a lot online, so I’ve definitely played it a lot, but I think it’s a great addition to the WSOP schedule
There was such a big field. And I think there was a good mixture of pros and recreational players.
I think doing turbos is great because it’s good for non-professional players who can finish an event quickly.”
Fox went on to finish second in Event #5: $100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller, narrowly missing out on his third career bracelet, but adding a cool $1.79 million consolation prize to his bankroll.
Fresh from the 9th place run, Cada hopped in Event #3: $3,000 No Limit Hold’em Shootout looking to keep the good run going.
This event attracted 363 players to the fray, who were then divided into 50 tables playing seven- or eight-handed. Under the shootout format, each table played down to a single winner, who advanced onward to Day 2.
The second day of play saw superstar Phil Hellmuth – the all-time leading WSOP bracelet winner with 14 titles – advance, but the “Poker Brat” fell short at his five-handed table.
Day 3 arrived with just 10 survivors remaining, a select group that included Cada alongside fellow World Champion Joe McKeehen, winner of the 2015 WSOP Main Event.
Both former champions were in search of their third gold bracelet, and they eventually squared off three-handed, with Sam Phillips standing in the way.
Cada wound up busting McKeehen in 3rd place ($101,766) on a pocket kings over pocket sixes preflop cooler. After a tense heads-up battle in which Phillips (2nd place for $139,804) doubled up twice, Cada finally won a coin flip with 6-6 over Ace-Four offsuit to clinch his third career bracelet and a $226,218 score to start the summer.
Here’s how Cada described his opening week heater when speaking to PokerNews shortly after the win:
“I’m feeling great, it’s tough to win any No-Limit tournament. It means a lot to win my third bracelet.
I have loved the WSOP ever since being a kid, I watched it all the time on TV. Winning these bracelets, it’s unreal.
You’ve got to just run good and I’m lucky to run better than everyone else.”
The WSOP will host 78 bracelet events over the next five weeks, culminating with the $10,000 Main Event in mid-July.