Belgian Michael Gathy has emerged victorious from event #21 at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas to collect his first gold bracelet and $440,829.
The 23-year-old from Brussels overcame a 2,799-strong starting field in the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament to not only win, but also secure his first WSOP cash at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
Full-time pro Gathy ultimately defeated California’s Jamie Armstrong in a heads-up battle that lasted two levels, with the runner-up collecting $273,776 for his troubles.
In what was an enthralling head-to-head, the chip lead changed hands numerous times as neither player could quite gain a meaningful advantage. However, the last hand of the event did eventually arrive during level 31, when the blinds were at 60,000/120,000 with a 15,000 ante.
Tens Good Enough for Crown
Armstrong opened with a 250,000 bet, Gathy raised that to 600,000 and the former responded with a four-bet shove all-in. Gathy made the call to show the dominating 10c-10s as Armstrong revealed his 9♣ 9♠ hole cards. The board ran out 8♣ K♣ 5♣ A♥ 7♥ and Gathy’s tens held for victory.
The 17 players who made it into Day 3 of this event began their final push for glory at two tables in the Amazon Room of the Rio before moving to the nearby ESPN Main Stage once seven players – Hok-Leung Wong (11th), Derek Wolter (12th), Glen McCaffrey (13th), Randy Green (14th), Jonathan Poche (15th), Earl ‘Mitch’ Merritt (16th) and William Fichman (17th) – had been eliminated inside the first two levels.
Vegas’ Dan Smith was the first player to exit on the main stage about half-an-hour into 10-handed play when his A♥ 6♥ ran into the pocket eights of Canada’s Noah Vaillancourt. Smith fell just short of the official final table in 10th for $25,367.
Joshua Field Ousted in Ninth
California’s Joshua Field didn’t last long at the final table, hitting the rail in ninth place for $32,748 only minutes later. He shoved all-in while holding K♦ J♠ and Armstrong called with his pocket nines. Field had no luck on the 2♦ 8♥ A♠ 3♠ 2♠ and was gone.
Canada’s Jason Manggunio hit the rail in eighth place for $42,749 after moving all-in pre-flop against Eric Baldwin. Baldwin called to show A♠ 8♦ for a huge advantage over the British Columbia player’s A♣ 7♦. Both made top pair on a A♦ K♥ 9♦ 4♣ 5♦ flop, but Baldwin’s kicker eliminated Manggunio.
Seventh place and $56,453 went to Frenchman Jean-Louis Santoni after he lost out to British Columbia’s Vaillancourt. Under the gun, Santoni opened and then called Vaillancourt’s re-raise to see a flop of 4♦ K♥ J♦. All the chips hit the middle then, with Santoni showing Q♦ J♠ for second pair and Vaillancourt drawing live to a flush with A♦ 6♦. The 3♦ arrived on the turn to end Santoni’s challenge.
Eric Davis Exits in Sixth
Eric Davis, of Nevada, was next to go in sixth place for $75,422 when he shoved all-in with A♠ 5♦ to be met by the A♥ 7♥ of Vegas’ John Esposito. The board came down 8♥ 3♥ 9♠ 5♥ 2♦ so giving Esposito a heart flush for the elimination.
Baldwin – who, like Davis, lives in Henderson – was next to leave the final table in fifth place for $101,948. Baldwin four-bet shoved pre-flop and was called by Vaillancourt. The Canadian showed A♥ 4♦, while Baldwin revealed Q♣ Q♠ to be well ahead. However, Vaillancourt made it trips aces on a 2♠ A♠ 3♠ 6♦ A♣ board to send Baldwin out in what was his third WSOP final table appearance.
John Esposito Takes Fourth Spot
Just over 60 minutes past before Esposito hit the rail in fourth place for $139,457. He got unlucky when his A♦ 6♦ came up against the A♠ 8♦ of Armstrong. Both paired their respective kickers on a 6♠ 8♥ Q♠ flop, but Esposito failed to improve when the 5♣ arrived on the turn and the K♦ came on the river.
Vaillancourt – who had enjoyed a rollercoaster ride at the final table – finally succumbed when hitting the rail in third place for $193,089. Armstrong opened for 200,000 and Vaillancourt moved all-in. Armstrong called to show A♦ Q♣ for the pre-flop lead against Vaillancourt’s Q♥ 10♣. The 2♣ 9♣ K♥ 6♠ 7♦ changed nothing, so ensuring that Armstrong would face-off against Gathy for the bracelet and top prize.
WSOP 2012 Event #21 Top 10 Payouts
1. Michael Gathy (Belgium) – $440,829
2. Jamie Armstrong (USA) – $273,776
3. Noah Vaillancourt (Canada) – $193,089
4. John Esposito (USA) – $139,457
5. Eric Baldwin (USA) – $101,948
6. Eric Davis (USA) – $75,422
7. Jean-Louis Santoni (France) – $56,453
8. Jason Manggunio (Canada) – $42,749
9. Joshua Field (USA) – $32,748
10. Dan Smith (USA) – $25,367