The World Series of Poker’s online bracelet series is underway this month, and some Tennesseans have been cashing in the digital form of the prestigious tournaments.
The first Tennessee poker player to make a cash, according to the WSOP’s website that lists all the event results, was Matthew Borondy, who hails from Crossville. He finished in 179th place for $805 in Event No. 1, a $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em event.
The star of the series so far, in terms of players hailing from Tennessee, is Josh Ray.
Ray, listed as from Chattanooga, finished in 121st place for $897 in Event No. 2, a $600 buy-in no-limit hold’em. Ray also finished in 38th place for $1,454 in Event No. 4, a $500 no-limit hold’em turbo event.
However, it was Event No. 5, a higher stakes $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em with eight-handed tables, in which Ray nearly sat with all the digital chips.
Ray finished in third in that event for $59,551, with first place taking $139,600.
Close call for Ray, but cards didn’t fall his way
According to the WSOP’s live reporting, Ray, whose screen name is “zeal1906” on the WSOP’s platform, was short-stacked and moved all in with king-five off suit. He was called by his opponent who held ace-king. Ray was unable to come from behind, and he exited in third. Tennessee has legal online sports betting, but no poker. Perhaps that will come after the sports betting market matures.
The WSOP platform is inaccessible from Tennessee, so Ray, along with everyone else, has to be located in a state that allows it. It appears Ray has been playing from Las Vegas. Poker news sites indicate he may live there currently, which would make sense as Tennessee also doesn’t even have live poker rooms.
Ray has 18 cashes lifetime in WSOP events for a total of $155,636. He nearly had a super deep run in the 2019 $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, finishing 196th for $50,855. That tournament had 8,569 players and awarded a $10 million first-place prize.
According to the Hendon Mob, which compiles poker tournament results, Ray has $243,456 in lifetime tournament earnings, good for 49th place on the state’s all-time poker tournament earnings list. Kathy Liebert is No. 1 with nearly $6.4 million in lifetime earnings, followed by Chris Moneymaker, who famously won the 2003 WSOP Main Event, in second with just under $4 million.
A pair of other Tennesseans also made cashes through the first roughly one-third of the WSOP’s 2021 online bracelet series, set to run through the end of July.
Troy Lee of Millington took 161st place for $657 in Event No. 9, a $400 buy-in, six-handed no-limit hold’em event. Lee also finished in 25th place for $2,412 in Event No. 10, a $333 buy-in no-limit hold’em.
Justin Sharpe of Memphis finished 111th in Event No. 10 for $637.