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Best of Vin Narayanan

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WSOP's November Nine determined after long day filled with bad beats

18 July 2010

LAS VEGAS -- The final table for the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event is set. When play resumes at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in November, Jonathan Duhamel will be the chip leader with 65.975 million in chips. Joining him at the final table will be John Dolan (46.25 million), Joseph Cheong (23.525 million), John Racener (19.05 million), Matthew Jarvis (16.7 million), Filippo Candio (16.4 million), Michael Mizrachi (14.45 million), Soi Nguyen (9.65 million) and Jason Senti (7.625 million).

Each of the final nine players is guaranteed $811,823 in prize money. The Main Event winner will earn $8,944,138.

"I'm about to die right now," a smiling Duhamel said after play ended at 5:40 a.m.-- nearly 18 hours after play began on Saturday. "I'm very, very tired."

The November Nine surround WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel and reach for their ultimate prize: the Main Event bracelet.

The November Nine surround WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel and reach for their ultimate prize: the Main Event bracelet. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

"I'm just going to go off with my family and friends and relax a little bit and be focused and ready to come back in November," the online poker pro from Canada added.

Mizrachi, who is attempting to add a Main Event bracelet to his win in this year's $50,000 Poker Players Championship, said success for him started on Day 1A of the tournament.

"I knew that after Day 1, if I had a big stack, there would be so much bad play and (so many) inexperienced players I could chip up, chip up, chip up," Mizrachi said. "I played Day 1A, and I knew that was the probably the best Day to play, because there would be a smaller field. July 4th was the day before and I knew all the pros weren't going to play -- they were going out partying. I knew it was going to be a weaker field...and I picked them apart."

Mizrachi is also comfortable with the reads he has on his competitors.

"I have a pretty good idea on how every single player plays here. Hopefully, I can do what I did in the Poker Players Championship," Mizrachi said.

The tournament's pivotal hand came with 16 players remaining, and it featured Matt Affleck and Duhamel.

Matt Affleck buries his head in his hat after his aces were cracked to eliminate him from the Main Event.

Matt Affleck buries his head in his hat after his aces were cracked to eliminate him from the Main Event. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Affleck had a bit of a rough start to his day. He had left his glasses at the feature table in the Rio last night, and today, they were gone. WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla hopped on the microphone to ask the fans assembled to look around for them. Nobody could find them, so Affleck had to play the day squinting.

Early on, it looked like Affleck had lost some of his mojo. Affleck fell from 12.515 million to 5 million in chips before doubling up when his pocket aces held up against Jarvis.

After his double up against Jarvis, Affleck began a steady rise up the leaderboard and looked poised to make the final table until he ran into a hand that left the overflowing crowd in the Amazon Room gasping for air.

Duhamel started the betting pre-flop with a raise to 550,000. Affleck responded with a re-raise to over 1.5 million and Duhamel re-raised to almost 4 million. Affleck called, creating a pot of nearly 8 million. The flop came out 10d-9c-7h and Duhamel called a 5-million chip bet from Affleck, creating a pot of 18 million. A queen of diamonds hit on the turn and Affleck pushed all in for 11.6 million. After agonizing over the decision, Duhamel called and made it a pot worth more than 41 million. Affleck turned over pocket aces for the best hand. He was a 77-percent favorite to beat Duhamel, who showed pocket jacks and needed an eight, a jack or a king on the river to win the hand.

"When I pushed all in, there was a good chance he could snap call and he could have a set or two pair," Affleck told Casino City. "When he didn't snap call me, I 100 percent knew I was good. I really thought he had kings and he was tanking with kings.

"He called, and I go, 'You have kings?' and he goes, 'No.' Then I show I have aces and he goes, 'You're good.' I was (thinking to myself), 'I'm going to be chip leader at the final table. I'm going to have 40 million chips and I'm going to win this tournament.'

"He flipped over jacks and I went, 'Oh my god, I have to fade the 10 outer.' There was about a minute and half between when he said call and when the river came out. And all I could think was, 'Red deuce, one time, red deuce.'

"It didn't happen. An eight came on the river and I was speechless. I didn't know what was going on. I ran out of the room basically. I went out of the room, then I came back in before the next hand was dealt. I had two good friends at the table, Adam Levy and Joseph Cheong, and I wished them luck. Adam's since been knocked out of the tournament. Joseph is still sitting strong and I hope he wins it."

"I almost didn't hold it together," Affleck added. "This was a lot easier to take than last year because I played the best poker of my life for 8 days. All you can do is play and make the right decisions. You can't really control anything with the cards."

Despite the bad beat, Affleck remained positive about his game.

"I'm motivated," Affleck said. "I'm calling it. In August, I'm going to win WPT Legends of Poker."

Jonathan Duhamel needed almost 10 minutes to stack all the chips he won off Matt Affleck

Jonathan Duhamel needed almost 10 minutes to stack all the chips he won off Matt Affleck (photo by Vin Narayanan)

When play ended for the night, Duhamel admitted his move against Affleck was a really poor decision.

"It was a bad call and bad read for me," Duhamel said. "I didn't put him on the aces there. But if I was wrong, I still had outs. It was the worst play I made. After that pot I was very tilted about myself.

"I was pissed of with myself because I made a bad play. Getting a bad beat is fine because that's the cards. But making a bad play in the World Series -- there's no place for that. And that's what I did and I ended up winning. I'm just a luck box, I guess."

When play began shortly after noon, Joseph Cheong -- the chip leader at the beginning of the day with 24.49 million chips -- must have been wondering which poker god he ticked off. Four other chip leaders with more than 10 million apiece to start the day were sitting alongside him at the ESPN featured table, while Racener was the runaway chip leader at the secondary ESPN table with 10.47 million and Nguyen with 23.1 million was staring down just two chip stacks over 10 million.

And the presence of big stacks at Cheong's table hurt him early. In the second level of play Saturday, Cheong found himself in a pre-flop raising war with Filippo Candio. Cheong finally re-raised the pot to 1.125 million and Candio called. The flop came out 6c-6h-5c and Cheong bet a little over 1.5 million. Candio raised to over 4 million, and Cheong then pushed all in. Cheong had the Italian, who began the day with 10.02 million covered, and Candio made the call to put his tournament life on the line.

Joe Cheong was able to rebound from a tough beat early to finish in third chip position.

Joe Cheong was able to rebound from a tough beat early to finish in third chip position. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Cheong flipped over pocket aces, and Candio showed 5s-7s, making Cheong an 87-percent favorite to win the hand. The turn was the eight of spades, giving Candio a straight draw. And the river was the four of clubs, giving Candio the miracle straight and cause for a massive celebration. Cheong took the bad beat well. He dropped his head for a moment, and then began counting out chips to ship to Candio. When he was done counting, Candio ended up with about 27 million in chips while Cheong dropped down to about 9.2 million.

Cheong didn't let his early misfortune get him down, though. He kept grinding away and ended up with 23.525 million in chips.

While Racener didn't have any really big stacks to face down to start the day, he did have two of the most decorated pros still in the tournament at his table -- Mizrachi and Scott Clements.

Nguyen also drew a tough pro at his table, with Adam "Roothlus" Levy sitting two seats to his right.

Johnny Lodden, the second-shortest stack entering Saturday's action, was the first player eliminated as the field played down from 27 to 9. The Norwegian pro won $317,161 for finishing in 27th.

Hassan Habib, who had the fewest chips to start the day with 1.51 million, doubled early with pocket fours and outlasted 13 players in a remarkable display of short-stack poker to finish 14th and win $500,165.

One of the most popular players left in the tournament, Ronnie Bardah, busted out shortly after Lodden, finishing in 24th place to win $317,161.

Bardah, who started the day with 2.525 million in chips, found himself all in against Filippo Candio about an hour into play. Candio turned over pocket aces. Bardah turned over the ace and king of hearts, and then headed over to his crew in the stands to root for the poker gods to come through for him.

"I just want a sweat," Bardah said as he stood with arms draped around his shoulders. "I never get a sweat in these situations."

Bardah's sweat never came, with only one heart and no king hitting on the flop. A spade came out on the turn, and that was it for the player from Stoneham , Mass.

As Bardah walked across the empty Amazon Room in the Rio to pick up his winnings, a massage therapist stopped him and gave him a big hug. Then a small child surprised Bardah when she shook hands with him and offered congratulations as he walked out the door.

"Coming into today, I thought I could maneuver my way into the final table. That was my plan," Bardah told Casino City after his elimination.

"I thought I would get there, and everybody thinks they're going to get there, I guess," Bardah added. "My confidence level was up. You look down at ace-king of hearts, though, and an aggressive kid opens, you have to stick it in. And if you get coolered, you get coolered. That's the end of the story."

While Bardah was disappointed at not making the final table, he was touched by the show of support from his friends.

"Having my supporting cast here was great," Bardah said with his voice catching a little bit. "These are true friends because nobody has a piece of me. So for nobody to have a piece and everybody to show up -- all these guys came out for no reason, just because they love me and they're good friends of mine. I'm happy they all came. It's a great feeling. I wish they could have rooted for me longer. For them to come -- it's amazing just to see them all there supporting me."

Bardah also promised he'd play again next year.

"I guarantee I'll cash," Bardah said. "This tournament is great -- best structure in the world. It suits my poker game. I have all the time to think and all the time to play. Hopefully, I'll run the same and get here again."

When Michiel Sijpkens exited the tournament midway through the day in 19th place, play moved from three tables to two. Sijpkens's elimination also ensured the Main Event would not be seeing its youngest player for the third year running.

Peter Eastgate was 22 when he won the Main Event in 2008 to break Phil Hellmuth's record as the tournament's youngest champion. Joe Cada supplanted Eastgate as the youngest champion in 2009 when he won it at 21 years and 11 months. Sijpkens, who is also 21, would have beaten Cada's mark by about five months.

Clements was the next player to bust out of the tournament. He earned $396,967 for reaching the final table, while Sijpkens earned $317,161 for falling one spot short of the final 18.

Duhamel took the chip lead for the first time when he eliminated David Baker from the tournament. Duhamel's pocket kings held up against Baker's flush draw, giving Duhamel another 8 million chips. It took Duhamel nearly 8 minutes to stack all of his new chips.

Baker won $396,967 for finishing in 17th place.

Ben Statz was the next player out of the tournament, busting shortly before the 90-minute dinner break.

"I guess I'm on an extra-long dinner break," he told his family with a smile as he waited for the WSOP staff to process his paperwork.

He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a tube of Chapstick, which he fumbled onto the ground. After deciding that his Chapstick was probably contaminated, he threw it out.

"I guess I can buy another one," said a rueful Statz.

"You can afford it," his mom pointed out. "You are buying dinner tonight, right?"

"Yes, dinner is on me," Statz confirmed before stopping to talk with Casino City.

"It's the first time I ever played in the Main Event," Statz said. "It was amazing. I had a lot of fun. I would recommend it to anyone who's thinking about doing it. It was cool."

Statz said he had always wanted to play in the Main Event, and this year was just the year.

"My girlfriend Katy was going to come out here anyway, and I just decided to buy in and it was worth it.

"Every stage (of the Main Event), you kind of think maybe if I'm lucky, I'll cash. Then you cash and you think maybe I'll make it to the next day. And every single day, I just set out to make it to the next day."

While Statz was happy about his first cash, Levy was surprised that he had made yet another deep run in the Main Event.

"I kind of folded my way to 12th place," Levy told the ESPN camera after his elimination. "I just never did well at the featured table. K-Q was the best hand I saw in the entire four hours."

"I don't know if I'll ever come this close again," Levy added. "But that's what I said when I got 48th two years ago."

Levy won $635,011 for finishing in 12th place. Duy Le, who finished in 13th place, also won $635,011.

After Levy's exit, Cheong knocked out Pascal LeFrancois, and the tournament consolidated to 10-handed play at the main ESPN TV table.

Nearly six hours after ten-handed play started, Jarvis knocked out Brandon Steven when Jarvis's queens held up against Steven's ace-king. Steven won $635,011 for finishing in tenth place.
WSOP's November Nine determined after long day filled with bad beats is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan

Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.

Vin Narayanan
Vin Narayanan is the managing editor at Casino City. When he's not writing or editing stories, he likes to play Chinese Poker, Badugi, Razz and any other "non-traditional" poker game. He also thinks blackjack is his best game and loves game theory.

Before joining Casino City, Vin covered (not all at the same time) sports, politics and elections, wars, technology, celebrities and the Census for USATODAY.com, USA WEEKEND and CNN.

A proud graduate of Michigan State University, Vin can be found on most nights and weekends trying to find a way to watch the Spartans play football or basketball.