Marty Derbyshire WSOP opening event

The 2018 World Series of Poker kicked off in Las Vegas last week with a Mentone, California table games dealer coming up just short of winning the WSOP’s traditional opening event.

The first of 78 WSOP bracelet events on the schedule, the 2018 WSOP $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em drew 566 entries, creating a prize pool of $283,000. Just 13 players survived the first day of play on Wednesday, with Pechanga Resort & Casino table games dealer Jodie Sanders leading the field.

Sanders stayed at or near the top of the leader board throughout the event’s final day at Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino Las Vegas on Thursday. However, after a nearly four-hour, heads-up battle with ARIA Resort & Casino poker dealer and floorman Jordan Hufty, he was forced to settle for second place.

Heads-up at the 2018 WSOP

Hufty and Sanders traded the lead back and forth until Hufty had the edge and Sanders got it all in with pocket threes versus Hufty’s two face cards. A king on the river did Sanders in.

Sanders earned $38,246 for the runner-up finish while Hufty collected $61,909 and the 2018 WSOP $565 Casino Employees gold bracelet. It marked Sanders’ second cash in a WSOP Casino Employees event. He previously earned $2,045 for finishing 28th in the 2009 40th Annual WSOP $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em event.

Pechanga Resort & Casino

As for Sanders’ home turf, Pechanga Resort & Casino is in Temecula, about an hour from Sanders’ Mentone home.

It became one of the largest resort and casino properties in the country this year after undergoing a $300 million expansion that doubled its size.

Pechanga was also voted the number one casino in the country by USA Today earlier this year. It currently features upward of 4,000 slots and table games. Plus, there is a 54-table poker room offering daily tournaments, cash games and wide variety of poker promotions.

2007 WSOP Main Event champ Jerry Yang won his seat in the tournament through a $225 satellite at Pechanga.

Owned and operated by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Pechanga unveiled the results of its $300 million upgrade at the end of March. The property now includes 568 new hotel rooms and a 4.5-acre pool complex. Plus, there are two new restaurants and a luxury spa with a fitness and yoga studio.

More 2018 WSOP action

The 2018 WSOP $565 Casino Employees gold bracelet was actually the second bracelet awarded so far this year.

New Yorkerand 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event winner Elio Fox won the first. He took down the single-day 2018 WSOP $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty for $393,693 in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

In addition to all the live action in Las Vegas, the 2018 WSOP comprises four online WSOP bracelet events.

Online poker players in New Jersey and Nevada are both eligible to play in these events for the first time ever.

The four online events on the 2018 WSOP schedule include:

  • $365 No Limit Hold’em June 3 at 3:30 p.m. PST
  • $565 Pot Limit Omaha 6-Handed June 22 at 3:30 p.m. PST
  • $1,000 No Limit Hold’em June 29 at 3:30 p.m. PST
  • $3,200 High Roller June 30 at 3:30 p.m. PST
Marty Derbyshire
Marty Derbyshire - Martin Derbyshire is a veteran of the world of poker and gambling, having worked as a reporter, producer, and editor in the industry for more than a decade. He has traveled the globe interviewing high-profile personalities and contributes to a number of publications, including,, and