Bryan Piccioli was in position to bulldoze the rest of the field at last year’s World Series of Poker Main Event.
And then …
“I just kind of brain-farted myself out of the tournament,” he said.
A year later, the 28-year-old Piccioli is making another deep run and was near the top of the leaderboard most of Sunday on Day 6 of the $10,000 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship at the Rio Convention Center.
Piccioli slipped into the middle of the pack when action in the Main Event paused at 9:30 p.m. Christian Pham of St. Paul, Minnesota, had the unofficial lead with 35 players left.
The Main Event resumes at 11 a.m. Monday and will go until nine players remain. The final table begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Rio.
“Even in Day 6 of the Main, in these stressful times, I’m still having fun,” Piccioli said during an afternoon break. “I’m chatting at the table. I’m trying to get reactions out of people. Everybody takes it so seriously. I’m just trying to help everybody let loose. That’s just who I am.”
Piccioli grew up in Allegany, New York, and learned to play poker as a youngster while watching his dad’s regular home game.
“Once I got to a certain age, like 12 or 13, he started letting me come and kind of hang out with the guys, Piccioli said. “They’d be telling dirty jokes and smoking cigars, and that was the cool thing to do when I was that age.”
Piccioli has more than $6.36 million in documented online tournament earnings and was ranked the top online player in the world by PocketFives.com in May 2011.
He won the $1,100 buy-in No-limit Hold’em Accumulator event at the WSOP Asia-Pacific in 2013 for his lone bracelet and has almost $2 million in career live earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database.
Piccioli was the chip leader after Day 4 of the Main Event a year ago, but he stumbled early on Day 5 and ultimately was eliminated in 84th place ($67,855) by Jerry Wong, who went on to finish eighth.
“We started battling a little bit, and I just kind of let some things start getting to me that I shouldn’t have started let getting to me, and I lost my focus,” Piccioli explained.
“I think about those mistakes I made on almost a weekly basis. And yeah, here I am again, and I’m just kind of taking a more casual approach and just letting things come to me instead of going out and trying to get it.”
Piccioli’s run has been inspired by his father, Dan, who suffered a spinal cord injury last summer after a fall in his home and is a quadripeligic.
Piccioli jumped up the leaderboard during play Saturday, doubling up with aces against kings in one key hand.
He started play Sunday 25th in chips out of 85 players and eliminated Paul Dhaliwal (58th place) and Gregory Goldberg (49th place) to move up to 11th place at the dinner break.
“I’m super comfortable right now,” Piccioli said. “Put all the lights on me. Final table, put it all on me. I’ll take it.”
Contact David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.
World Series of Poker
What: $10,000 Main Event No-limit Texas Hold ’em World Championship
When: Monday, Thursday through Saturday
Where: Rio Convention Center
TV: ESPN/ESPN2 or Poker Central (online stream)
Admission: Free (21 and older)