WSOP 2011: John Juanda Denies Hellmuth 12th Bracelet

WSOP 2011Phil Hellmuth failed to secure a record 12th Word Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet on Saturday in Las Vegas, but displayed a rather uncommon side to his character – that of great sportsmanship.

Hellmuth wasn’t expected to go deep in the $10,000 no-limit 2-7 draw lowball championship, having won all 11 of his WSOP bracelets in various forms of no-limit hold’em, but he did make it to a heads-up clash with John Juanda for the $367,170 top prize on the third day of play.

However, following Richard Ashby’s elimination in third place, 46-year-old Hellmuth held a 3-to-1 chip lead over Juanda, only to fall just short of the title as the Chinese-Indonesian – who finished fourth in the 2009 and 2010 versions of this tournament – wore him down over three hours.

Hellmuth, while on the button, moved all-in for 550,000 and Juanda called after carefully considering his hand. Hellmuth was happy with his Q-10-8-5-2 as Juanda drew one card to add to his J-6-3-2.

The former WSOPE main event winner caught an 8s as his hands shook with nervous tension, before remarking: “It’s not paint”. That card completed his jack low and secured his fifth bracelet to deny the Poker Brat his record-setting 12th title in Vegas.

The audience cheered loudly as Juanda – now with 55 WSOP cashes – waved and expressed his gratitude for the support as the heads-up clash ended during level 26 and as the clock closed in on midnight.

The Los Angeles-based Juanda was gracious in victory, saying that Hellmuth “played really well and, if the cards had fallen his way, he could have been standing here doing the interview.”

What was surprising, given his reputation, was Hellmuth’s reaction to missing out on a record number of WSOP bracelets.

The Wisconsin native shook Juanda warmly by the hand and said: “Well played, buddy, well played. You’re just so f**king scary.” That is about the nicest thing I’ve ever heard Hellmuth say about any opponent – and an incredible compliment after such a disappointing end to his hopes.

Hellmuth didn’t leaving the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with that 12th bracelet, but pocketed $226,907 for his 80th WSOP career cash.

Top 10 finishers at the WSOP 2011 $10,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship:

  1. John Juanda (USA) – $367,170
  2. Phil Hellmuth (USA) – $226,907
  3. Richard Ashby (UK) – $143,833
  4. Steve Sung (USA) – $97,416
  5. Nick Schulman (USA) – $69,216
  6. David Bakes Baker (USA) – $51,485
  7. Hasan Habib (USA) – $40,020
  8. Joe Cassidy (USA) – $32,440
  9. Greg Raymer (USA) – $27,928
  10. Benjamin Parker (USA) – $27,928

Brian Rast storms to WSOP 2011 $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em title

Brian ‘tsarrast’ Rast was the last man standing when the dust settled on event No.15, the $1,500 pot limit hold’em tournament, on Saturday.

Day three started with 10 players from an original field of 765 hoping to collect a coveted WSOP bracelet, as well as the $227,232 prize, but it was Denver native Rast who became yet another first-time winner in Vegas.

What is all the more impressive is Rast wasn’t even going to play at the WSOP – until being convinced by good friend and poker pro Antonio Esfandiari to register for the tournament!

Rast started the third and final day in command, his 1,081,000 chips accounting for a little over 31% of the table’s total chips.

That meant many of his opponents were very short-stacked, which probably explains the relative swiftness of the day’s play at just six hours.

Things started slowly, but then there was a rash of eliminations as Dajuan Whorley, Daisuke Endo, Mika Paasonen and Ali Eslami were all sent to the rail within a crazy 30 minutes.

It was down to two soon enough, with Rast enjoying a small chip lead over fellow American Allen Kessler when heads-up play started. He used this advantage to make smart moves and keep his opponent under continuous pressure.

The final hand wasn’t long in arriving. Rast, on the button, opened for 90,000 and Kessler called to see a flop of Ah-3h-5h.

Kessler checked before Rast pushed in a 90,000-chip continuation bet, only for Kessler to then three-bet to 200,000.

Pausing slightly, Rast raised to 500,000, probably expecting Kessler to give it up. However, Kessler announced that he was all-in for 1,440,000. Rast made an instant call, stood up and then showed his cards to his supporters – including his family and mate Esfandiari.

What they saw was Kh-9h, while Kessler held 5c-3c. Rast had flopped the second nut flush, but still had to avoid a three or five.

Kessler, who had remained seated, pointed three fingers at the board, signalling his hopes for a three to come. However, the turn was the 7h, leaving Kessler with only four outs.

The river showed 7d to end Kessler’s challenge, although he did pick up $140,309, and confirm Rast as champion.

Top 10 finishers in the WSOP 2011 $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em event:

  1. Brian Rast (USA) – $227,232
  2. Allen Kessler (USA) – $140,309
  3. Dajuan Whorley (USA) – $91,212
  4. Daisuke Endo (Japan) – $66,994
  5. Mika Paasonen (Finland) – $49,902
  6. Ali Eslami (USA) – $37,654
  7. John Gordon (USA) – $28,741
  8. Ted Lawson (USA) – $22,183
  9. Ronald Lee (USA) – $17,298
  10. Andrew Cohen (USA) – $13,601

Andrew Badecker takes WSOP 2011 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout crown

Andrew Badecker battled through a 1,440-strong field to emerge victorious in the $1,500 no-limit hold’em shootout event on Friday.

Badecker, from tiny town Vernon in Connecticut, won a nine-handed table, a 10-handed table and a 16-player sit ’n’ go – which included the likes of Vitaly Lunkin, Lars Bonding, Erik Cajelais, Dan Kelly, David Pham and Frank Kassela – to lift the gold bracelet and $369,371 in event No.13.

The 23-year-old, who started the final table as chip leader, pretty well dominated throughout, only losing his lead a few times, before swiftly returning to the top.

Having disposed of fellow American Daniel Makowsky in third place with his flopped queen high flush, Badecker was now faced with a heads-up battle against Gibraltar-based Dutchman Robbie Verspui.

The eventual champion did, however, have a 3-to-1 chip lead over Verspui and was never really troubled, although the 25-year-old did take over as chip leader for a short time.

The finish came less than an hour into their clash when – after check-raising Verspui on a 10s-6h-2h flop before three betting the next hand to force his opponent in to folding – Badecker raised the following hand to 90,000.

Verspui re-raised to 245,000 and, after eyeing up his opponent’s 1.7 million chips, Badecker moved all-in, to be snap-called.

Badecker showed Kh-2h to be up against Verspui’s As-Jh. However, the flop showed 7h-5s-2s and Badecker’s supporters exploded as they saw his pair of deuces while also shouting for his winning hand to hold.

While the Ks on the turn improved Badecker to two pair, Verspui had also made the nut flush draw.

A scream of “red!” was heard from the rail and the river obliged with the 5d to give Badecker the title.

Of course, Verspui was disappointed at not becoming the fourth Dutch bracelet winner, although it was best finish by a Netherlands player this WSOP and earned him $228,334.

Top 10 finishers at the WSOP 2011 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout event:

  1. Andrew Badecker (USA) – $369,371
  2. Robbie Verspui (Gibraltar) – $228,334
  3. Daniel Makowsky (USA) – $151,379
  4. Jonathan Spinks (UK) – $108,358
  5. Erik Cajelais (Canada) – $79,315
  6. Dan Kelly (USA) – $58,903
  7. Vitaly Lunkin (Russia) – $44,362
  8. Joseph Webber (USA) – $33,864
  9. David Pham (USA) – $26,185
  10. Lars Bonding (USA) – $20,586

Tyler Bonkowski lifts Canada’s first WSOP 2011 title with $3,000 Limit Hold’em win

Canada collected their first gold bracelet of this year’s WSOP on Friday, when Tyler Bonkowski claimed victory in event No.14, the $3,000 limit hold’em tournament.

The Regina, Saskatchewan, pro – whose previous best finish was 14th at the Aussie Millions – also lifted $220,817 and his first career bracelet for outlasting a 337-player field, although he had recorded three earlier WSOP cashes.

The 26-year-old certainly had to do it the hard way as his final table included runner-up Brandon Demes, Jeff Shulman – who was at his fifth WSOP final table – Mitch Schock, Matt Sterling and Shawn Keller.

Bonkowski’s heads-up battle with Demes lasted approximately two-and-a-half hours and at one point the eventual winner was 12-1 down in chips before he fought back for the title.

He “was really mad” when down to 250,000 chips, but refused to “let it affect” his play, before wining “a couple of hands in a row” that gave him confidence to go “on a roll” that led to his eventual success.

When heads-up play started, Bonkowski and Demes were almost even in chips, with the former on 1,510,000 and the latter on 1,490,000.

However, after trading blows early on, Demes built up a huge lead of 2.75 million to 250,000 – and Bonkowski looked to be in serious trouble, only to win back-to-back pots that brought him back into contention.

Bonkowski’s 3h-2h won when he rivered a pair of threes, before then seeing his Jd-8s succeed on a board that read Jh-10c-10s-3h-9d. Once back in the hunt, he never looked back.

The final hand saw Bonkowski raise from the button and Demes call. Demes then led out on a flop of 6d-5h-5c, only to be raised by Bonkowski. Demes three-bet and Bonkowski called to see the 10s on the turn. Demes check-raised all-in with his Ks-Qh and Bonkowski called to show Kd-10c.

Bonkowski had a pair of 10s, leaving Demes needing a queen on the river to survive. But the final card was the 8h and Bonkowski was champion.

Top 10 finishers at the WSOP 2011 $3,000 Limit Hold’em event:

  1. Tyler Bonkowski (Canada) – $220,817
  2. Brandon Demes (USA) – $136,419
  3. Andrew Brongo (USA) – $100,198
  4. Shawn Keller (USA) – $74,171
  5. Matt Sterling (USA) – $55,338
  6. Mitch Schock (USA) – $41,621
  7. Casey McCarrel (USA) – $31,547
  8. Ron Burke (USA) – $24,095
  9. Jeff Shulman (USA) – $18,547
  10. Leo Labbe (USA) – $14,388