Thursday, June 16 2011 : And a fourth woman final tables
 
Reaching the halfway mark, the 42nd World Series of Poker delivered more bracelets this week; another woman reached a final table; and organising officials reported that participation in the 2011 World Series of Poker tournament to date is up by 11 percent over last year despite predictions of doom following Black Friday.
 
Diana Allen became the fourth woman to make a WSOP final table this year and the second in as many days. She began the final table fifth in chips, but was unable to turn her position into a winner's bracelet in event 20, in which Jason Somerville eventually triumphed (see previous InfoPowa report).
 
Seth Palansky, communications director for WSOP indicated Wednesday that participation in the 2011 World Series of Poker tournament to date is up by 11 percent over last year despite legal wrangles surrounding the major U.S.-facing online poker sites.
 
Registered players had reached 20 443 for 20 of the total 58 events so far and total prize money won stands at $37 Million, he revealed.
 
"If this continues it will be the biggest attendance numbers in World Series history," Palansky said.
 
The highly respected internet and live tournament poker pro Bertrand ‘ElkY' Grospellier won his first WSOP gold bracelet, and $331,639, in event 21: $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship, which started its third day of action with just 12 survivors from an original field of 126.
 
The final table was quickly reached with John Hennigan and Steven Landfish well ahead of the pack, but the exciting conclusion saw Landfish facing off against Grospellier in an epic 4 hour heads up, with Landfish holding a significant chip lead that he managed to keep building until he had a 24 to 1 advantage.
 
Then Grospellier began an impressive come-back to first match and then overtake Landfish's lead, and the two battled on into the early hours of the morning with several lead changes until ElkY established dominance and took the match.
 
ElkY's win made him the second Triple Crown achiever this Series; in 2008 he took down the WPT Championship for $1,411,015 and the PCA for $2,000,000.
 
Landfish's very creditable performance was rewarded with a runner up prize worth $204,924.
 
In event 22: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Juha Vilkki started the third and final day with 1.23 million in chips, nearly twice the stack of closest rival Rafe Kibrit as 9 survivors from an original field of 1 071 returned for the final table.
 
Vilkki was unable to maintain his supremacy, however, and at the end it was Kibrit and French pro Elie Payan who reached the protracted heads up. Although Payan started the heads up in the lead, it was a tough game in which the duo swapped the advantage several times before Payan managed to gain the upper hand and take the match.
 
The Frenchman earned himself a cool $292,825 and the bracelet for his win, leaving his opponent with the runner-up’s check for $181,222.
 
Only 5 players out of an initial field of 489 were left as event 23: $2,500 Eight-Game Mix approached midnight Wednesday Vegas time, with Michele Limongi comfortably ahead of closest adversary John Monnette.
 
The third and last day of the contest had started with 25 players led by John Racener but including such dangerous opposition as John Juanda, Eric Buchman and John Monette.
 
Approaching midnight at level 26 the final five were Michele Limongi, John Monette, Eric Buchman, Desmond Portano and Brent Hanks.
 
Erik Seidel, Gavin Smith, Tommy Vedes, Dan Smith, Jordan Young, Justin Bonomo, Tom Marchese, Sean Getzwiller, James Akenhead, JP Kelly, James Dempsey, Toby Lewis, Maxim Lykov and Darren Kramer were all among the 40 survivors who gathered for the second day of event 24: $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout.
 
They were all that remained of an original field of 387 after a tough first day which saw many big names head for the rail.
 
Play concluded at level 7 late Wednesday, having reached a final table that comprised Sean Getzwiller, Jeffrey Gross, Adam Junglen, Tom Marchese, Dan Smith, Scott Baumstein and Todd Terry, all of the USA competing with Nicolas Fierrogottner (Chile), Nikita Lebedev (Russia) and Mark Radoja of Canada, with Junglen leading the pack.
 
Event 25: $1,500 Stud 8 or Better's second day started with 172 survivors of the first day’s action, which saw 434 casualties, many of them respected names in the international game.
 
Cyndy Violette and Hevan Novick jointly held the chip lead in a field that still contained names like Karina Jett, Kristy Gazes, Tom Dwan, Frank Kassela, Mike Sexton, Jason Mercier, Alex Kravchenko and Scotty Nguyen.
 
Allen Cunningham was an early day 2 elimination, but there were plenty more as the event progressed, with Barry Greenstein, Ali Eslami, Tom Dwan, Thomas Keller and Matt Savage all early casualties.
 
Playing into midnight Wednesday at level 17 there were just 35 players left in contention and enjoying the final break of the day, with Hieu Ngoc Ma some 20 000 chips ahead of his nearest opponent John Pappas.
 
Event 26: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six Handed attracted 1 378 entries, generating a prize pool of $3.13 million, and kicked off Wednesday.
 
The somewhat slow start saw Leo Wolpert, Justin Young, Isaac Haxton, David Benyamine, Daniel Kelly, Allen Bari, Vivek Rajkumar, Adam Levy, Tom Dwan, Jeffrey Papola, Phil Laak and Jean-Robert Bellande contributing to the star-power of the event.
 
Completing level 10 around midnight, the officials called it a wrap for the first day with 189 players still in action, led by Tyler Cornell.
 
Falling by the wayside on the first day were Jennifer Tilly, Tom Dwan, Vanessa Selbst, David Williams, Faraz Jaka, Liv Boeree, Phil Laak, Tony Dunst, Gavin Griffin, Bertrand Grospellier, Michael Mizrachi, Erick Lindgren, Vanessa Rousso, Humberto Brenes, Chad Brown, Greg Raymer, Phil Hellmuth, Shannon Shorr, Andrew Lichtenberger, Joseph Cheong,, Jeffery Papola, Dwyte Pilgrim, Dan Kelly and Lauren Kling.
 
But there's still a wealth of strong opposition in this field, and the second day should produce some very exciting poker.
 
Event 27: $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship started out Wednesday, too, pulling in 152 registrations – down 19 on last year's event – and creating a prize pool worth $1.42 million.
 
The format and value of this competition traditionally draws in many of the top players despite the high buy-in, generating plenty of excitement for the railbirds.
 
Seen seated as the first day's action commenced late Wednesday afternoon were Jeff Lisandro, Erik Cajelais, Bill Chen, Andre Akkari, Daniel Negreanu, Maria Ho, David Benyamine, Carlos Mortenson, Phil Hellmuth, Ali Eslami, Brock Parker, Shannon Shorr, Eric Froehlich, Phil Laak and Marco Traniello.
 
Play had reached level 8 by the early hours of Thursday morning PST, with 117 players left, led by Shawn Buchanan.
 
Notable eliminations have so far included Dan Heimiller, Vitaly Lunkin, Shaun Deeb, Jeff Lisandro, Eugene Katchalov, Justin Bonomo and Phil Hellmuth, but there's lots of firepower still in the field at this early (first day) stage.
 
First prize in this event will be  $378,642, with the runner up receiving $233,994.