Event #67 of the 2021 WSOP is the $10,000 Main Event No-Limit Hold’em World Championship. There are two Day 2s for this tournament, with the remaining field combining on Day 3 (November 10).
The WSOP Main Event is the main event on every year’s calendar. With a $10,000 buy in, this tourney has created at least one millionaire every year since 1991. The 2019 champion Hossein Ensan won $10,000,000 for his first place finish that year. Damien Salas was the official 2020 winner despite COVID-related controversies (that year, the online tournament substituted for the Main Event). This year, the tournament was originally scheduled to have four opening flights from November 4 through November 7. But two more flights were later added to bring the total up to six to accommodate international players after the United States lightened up on its travel ban.
2021 WSOP Main Event Day 1
The six Main Event Day 1 opening flights along with a few late registrations across two Day 2’s drew in 6,650 runners to generate a prize pool of $62,011,250. Sunday’s Day 1D was far and away the most popular opening flight, as it produced a massive field of 2,550 runners. Highlights through the first six days of Main event coverage included the 88-year-old Doyle Brunson returning to play in his first Main Event since 2013, and 16-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth arriving in costume as Gandalf the White from Lord of the Rings.
While over half of the field advanced on to one of the Main Event’s Day 2’s, there were plenty of big pros among those eliminated. Daniel Negreanu was perhaps the most popular player to hit the rail on Day 1 after he ran pocket kings into pocket aces early on Day 1E. Other notable exits one one of the six opening days include David Benyamine, Johnny Chan, Joseph Cheong, Shaun Deeb, Phil Laak, Ryan Laplante, Ryan Leng, Joe McKeehen, Brian Rast, Greg Raymer, defending champion Damian Salas, Nick Schulman, Jake Schwartz, Brandon Shack-Harris, Dan Smith and David Williams.
See coverage of all six Day 1’s at the 2021 WSOP Main Event:
WSOP 2021 Main Event Day 2
Players who survived opening flights A, B, and D were grouped into one Day 2 and players who advanced through opening flight C, E, and F were grouped into another. Some well-known pros including Stephen Chidwick, Matt Glantz, Mustapha Kanit, Jason Koon, Chris Moneymaker and Nick Petrangelo build up nice stacks on Day 2.
Jason Koon and Doyle Brunson spent most of their Day 2ABD together at the featured table before Brunson was eventually eliminated. Other popular pros that failed to advance to Day 3 included David “ODB” Baker, 2019 champion Hossein Ensan, Maria Konnikova, Kevin Martin, Tom McEvoy, Kelly Minkin, Scotty Nguyen, Ryan Riess and Erik Seidel. See our recap of the WSOP 2021 Main Event Day 2 here.
The field played down to its final 1,000 players on Day 3 of the Main Event on Thursday as all those players locked up at least a minimum cash of $15,000. Chris Moneymaker dominated the feature table and built his stack up to 1,432,000. Jessica Cai wrapped up Day 3 as the tournament’s chip leader with 1,796,000 chips and was one of two women to enter Day 4 in the top ten in chips alongside Dragana Lim (1,539,000). The most noteworthy hand on Day 3 saw Ugur Secilmils eliminate Chang Liu with his turned quad sixes over Liu’s flopped quad fours.
Many notable pros fell short of the money bubble and failed to advance to Day 4 including Justin Bonomo, Faraz Jaka, Ben Lamb, Greg Mueller, Yevgeniy Timoshenko and Anthony Zinno.
Day 4 found the 1,000 surviving players already each assured a $15,000 payday, and it was a day of carnage at the tables. 702 of those 1,000 players hit the rail during the day, including early chipleader Cai. Ten hours of play later, Spain’s Ramon Colillas bagged 5,000,000 in chips, the day’s top stack. Notable pros close behind included Stephen Song (third) and Stephen Chidwick (fourth). Two former Main Event winners remained in the hunt. 2016 champ Qui Nguyen finished 145th, while 2003 winner Chris Moneymaker started in 12th but faded late, ending up in 227th position.
The WSOP Main Event’s Day 5 showcased some of its international appeal. Austrian superstar Koray Aldemir powered his way to the top of 92 surviving players by building a stack of more than 14 million. Spain’s Ramon Calillas, the Day 4 leader, doubled his starting stack but still gave up the lead to Aldemir. Canada’s Jonathan Dwek also enjoyed a strong Day 5, finishing in third. The last two prior winners of the Main Event who made it to Day 5 were both eliminated early in the day. 2003 winner Chris Moneymaker never recovered from a tough ending to Day 4 and busted in 260th position. 2016 champ Qui Nguyen soon followed, exiting in 241st place.
Sunday’s Day 6 Main Event action at the Rio found the remaining field trimmed from 92 to 36, setting the stage for a marathon Day 7 to set the final table. As in previous days, a new leader emerged, as New Jersey’s Hye Park topped the final four tables with 29.5 million in chips. The field remained tightly bunched, with Demosthenes Kiriopoulos, Joshua Remitio, and Chase Bianchi also over the 20 million chip plateau.
Day 5 leader Koray Aldemir returned to the top of the counts on Day 7 while opening a large gap over the other players as the official nine-player final table was set. Aldemir moved from a starting fifth-place position to the top in early Day 7 play, then built his stack during the day’s extended play. When Aldemir busted Demosthenes Kiriopoulos in 10th, he finished with 140 million in chips. Only unsung American George Holmes, with about 84 million, could claim even half of Aldemir’s total. No other player topped 50 million in chips, with Argentinian rapper Alejandro Lococo in third with 47 million and another low-profile American, Joshua Remitio, in fourth with 40 million.
Germany’s Koray Aldemir continued his dominant late-stage run as a full nine-player final table was trimmed to three in a little over six hours of play on Day 8. Aldemir finished the day’s action with roughly two thirds of the chips in play, while the United Kingdom’s Jack Oliver and the United States’ George Holmes are Aldemir’s only remaining competitors. Aldemir knocked out three of the six final-table players himself as he has the inside track on the 2021 WSOP World Champion bracelet.
German pro and current Austrian resident finished off his impressive Main Event run by taking down the tourney and collecting the $8 million first prize, plus the World Championship bracelet. Aldemir’s win was more difficult than many expected, however. Atlanta, Georgia’s George Holmes fought back against Aldemir’s run, taking the lead briefly himself on two different occasions during heads-up play. Aldemir, though, flopped two pair in the event’s final hand, then induced Holmes to move all in with his own top-pair hand. Aldemir called after a lengthy think, and the call was worth the pot and the winner’s payday.