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Jun 25, 2015

Top 5 Stories from First Half of 2015 WSOP

By RTR Dennis

The 2015 WSOP is halfway over with now, and there have been a number of great stories through the first 34 events. Of course, some of these tales will truly define the memories created this summer more than others. That said, let's take a look at the top 5 stories from the 2015 WSOP.

1. The Colossus smashes Attendance Record

The most-anticipated event of this year's WSOP certainly didn't disappoint, drawing 22,374 entrants and crushing the old live-tournament attendance record set by the 2006 Main Event (8,773). What's more is that the Colossus generated an $11,187,000 prize pool, which is amazing for a $500 buy-in event. The only controversy here was that the winner, Cord Garcia, 'only' received $638,880. Many pros like Eugene Katchalov, Mike Matusow and Daryll Fish thought the payout should have been higher, considering that it was only about 5% of the total prize pool. Nevertheless, this tournament should definitely be considered an overall success.

2. Phil Hellmuth wins Bracelet #14

It had been three years since Phil Hellmuth won a gold bracelet, which seems like a drought when you have so many of them. But by the Event #17 $10,000 Razz Championship, Hellmuth had already ended the drought by topping a 109-player field. Aside from picking up a $271,105 payout, the Poker Brat collected his 14th-career gold bracelet - four more than any other player! Following the victory, Hellmuth made sure to dedicate his record-extending win to his friend Dave Goldberg, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who died in a treadmill accident.

3. Christian Pham Accidentally wins 2-7 Draw Lowball

One great thing about poker is that anybody has a shot to win - even if you've never played a particular game before. Christian Pham is perfect evidence of this since he beat out a 219-player field in the Event #23 $1,000 2-7 Draw Lowball tournament on just his first time playing. The only thing is...Pham didn't mean to enter Event #25; he was trying to register for a $1,500 NLHE tournament and signed up for the wrong one. The Minnesota poker pro had to learn 2-7 Draw Lowball on the fly, which he successfully did en route to scooping an $81,314 prize.

4. Daniel Alaei wins Bracelet #5

Daniel Alaei may not have the pizzazz or number of bracelets that Hellmuth has. But he's definitely putting together a very good poker career at a relatively young age, as evidenced by his fifth-career victory. Alaei took down the Event #21 $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Championship along with a $391,097 prize. And it certainly wasn't easy for him to top this 157-player field, especially since he was at a 6:1 heads-up chip disadvantage to Kyle Miaso (2nd, $241,691). But Alaei was to persevere and grab his fifth bracelet by the age of 30, becoming only the fifth player to do so this young.

5. Shaun Deeb nets First WSOP Victory

With almost $9 million in combined live and online poker winnings, Shaun Deeb was definitely one of the best players never to win a bracelet. But the key word here is "was" since Deeb topped a 128-player field to win the Event #15 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship along with $318,857. "This is the biggest stage of all, where it’s at in poker, and where you have to win to prove yourself," Deeb said of his first bracelet. "I wanted to cross this off my bucket list for quite some time, and I finally took it down."

Bonus: Football Coach Jeffrey Tomlinson Beats Stacked Final Table

There are plenty of poker players who love the game and grind in live tournaments, yet go back to their day job when the excitement ends. Jeffrey Tomlinson, a Florida high school football coach and teacher, is definitely in this crowd. Just a couple of years ago, Tomlinson guided his Palm Beach Gardens Gators to the Florida State High School Football semi-finals. This year he found himself battling his way to finals of a different kind - the final table of the Event #25 LHE Eight-Handed tournament. Despite facing Dominick Nitsche, Pierre Milan, Jonathan Little and Anthony Zinno on this table, it was Tomlinson coming out with the $567,724 first-place prize.