We’re down to the last four in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $25,000 Heads-Up Championship – and what a fantastic line-up it is with Eric Froehlich facing Yevgeniy Timoshenko and Gus Hansen taking on Jake Cody tonight at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
American Froehlich is certainly expecting a hard ride in today’s semi-finals after overcoming Russian Nikolay Evdakov as he believes “this might be the toughest field that ever got in the World Series of Poker in any event”.
He reckons “it’s been really fun” so far after having to overcome big-name pros throughout his run to the last four, saying he “started with Patrik Antonius, which is not easy”, before then taking on Scott Clements, John Duthie, Steve Zolotow, and then Evdakov in the quarter-finals.
Froehlich – known as E-Fro – has been impressed with the line-up, adding that “every opponent I played is experienced – they’ve been around the poker world for a long time and they’re all really strong players”.
However, the 27-year-old – who is aiming for his third WSOP bracelet – believes that he’s “ran good when I’ve needed to run good” during what have been long matches, although he has “been able to find a way” to win all five match-ups.
But the American “can’t put into words how awesome it would be to win a third bracelet”, although the humble pro added that he was “honestly just thrilled to be in the top four”.
Froehlich continued by stating that he feels like he’s “completely freerolling right now, even though the stakes are still so huge – and just getting bigger – and there’s a bracelet on the line”.
He is already “so happy” to have made the Final Four, but added that “the bracelet would mean more than words can possibly say”.
Froehlich is very wary of Timoshenko, however, noting that, although he defeated “Yevgeniy in the first round of the 10K heads-up in the World Series event last year”, he reckons the Ukrainian “is one of the absolute best players in the world – definitely top 10 on my list”.
The semi-finalist also believes Timoshenko will “be an absolute struggle to beat” as the he reckons “he just plays phenomenal – the way he thinks about the game is fantastic”.
There was just one round of play yesterday to cut the field in half from eight to four, with the cool Timoshenko – displaying fantastic reads and steady play – the first to win through after overcoming an early chip deficit to defeat Brookline’s David Paredes.
On the button, Paredes minimum raised with the blinds at 10,000 and 20,000, while Timoshenko three-bet to 105,000. Paredes pushed the remainder of his chips in – about 540,000 – and Timoshenko snap-called. The Ukrainian showed Ah-10c to dominate Paredes’ Ac-6d.
The flop came 7d-Jd-4d to give Paredes numerous outs, with any diamond or six winning the hand. However, the turn came 2h and, with the Qc on the river, it was Timoshenko who is guaranteed a minimum of $283,966 in the Final Four and Paredes was knocked out in eighth for $138,852.
The second player through to the semi-finals was Froehlich when he saw off the challenge of Evdakov in what was probably the most entertaining quarter-final of the day.
Neither player was afraid to push all their chips in, but – following a succession of huge pots and regular double-ups – it was the Virginia native who secured the last-four spot.
The winning hand saw Froehlich on the button, with 10,000/20,000 blinds, raise to 50,000, before Evdakov re-raised him to 150,000. Froehlich called and the flop came 6d-10h-2c. Evdakov bet 150,000 and Froehlich called.
The action went sky-high quickly when the turn provided the Qh. Froehlich checked and the Russian went all-in for 226,000. Froehlich snap-called to show Qc-6c and two pair, while Evdakov flipped over Ac-Qd for top pair and top kicker. Evdakov required an ace or 10 for victory, but the river showed 6h to give Froehlich a full house.
The action at the feature table was slightly more sedate as British player Jake Cody eventually wore down New Yorker Anthony Guetti.
It required a cooler to decide the winner, however. Rochdale’s Cody made a small raise and Guetti quickly three-bet to make it 105,000. Cody went all-in and was swiftly called by Guetti, who showed 7h-7s – only to be faced with the Brit’s 10d-10c.
They both stood up as Cody’s supporters cheered loudly. The flop showed Jc-Ks-9s, meaning Guetti needed to hit a two-outer to stay in. No help was forthcoming on the turn as 3c showed, while the 6s on the river was also no good – resulting in a massive whoop of joy from Cody’s fans.
Cody now faces Hansen in the semi-finals as both players – with numerous successes in Europe – aim to lift their first bracelet in Las Vegas.
However, most railbirds came to see Hansen employ a surprisingly methodical game to beat Toronto’s Matt Marafioti.
The final hand saw a 10s-As-6h-Js board after Great Dane Hansen – winner of last year’s WSOP-E £10,000 heads-up event – check-called a bet on the flop to place around 130,000 in the pot.
He then checked once more on the turn, before Marafioti – with 461,000 chips remaining – shoved all-in. Hansen was ahead with his Jd-6c making two pair, although Marafioti had numerous outs with his Qs-8h – needing a spade or king to stay in the game.
However, the river showed 4d to give Hansen the win, although Marafioti – who tapped the table in acknowledgement of the Dane’s success – did leave with $138,852.
The semi-final winners will play a best-of-three heads-up clash.
Jake Cody (UK) – 2,400,000 chips
2. Gus Hansen (Denmark) – 2,400,000
3. Eric Froehlich (USA) – 2,400,000
4. Yevgeniy Timoshenko (Ukraine) – 2,400,000
Places five to 16 with payouts:
5. Matt Marafioti (Canada) – $138,852
6. Anthony Guetti (USA) – $138,852
7. Nikolay Evdakov (Russia) – $138,852
8. David Paredes (USA) – $138,852
9. Tom Dwan (USA) – $67,436
10. Steve Billirakis (USA) – $67,436
11. John Duthie (UK) – $67,436
12. Olivier Busquet (USA) – $67,436
13. Richard Lyndaker (USA) – $67,436
14. Kunimaro Kojo (Japan) – $67,436
15. Mikhail Smirnov (Russia) – $67,436
16. Jonathan Jaffe (USA) – $67,436