There were just three players left in contention when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) hard-stop rule came into play last night during the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low split-8 or better event in Las Vegas.
With Americans George Lind and Steve Billirakis, as well as Russian Viacheslav Zhukov, locked in a three-way battle for the title and $465,216, they managed approximately 45 minutes’ poker before officials called a halt.
Only 22 players made it to day three of the event in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino from the original 202 entrants, with this trio now returning this evening to renew their battle for the bracelet.
However, they will each know that, having made it this far, they are guaranteed at least $214,697 for third place. Second place, however, will be rewarded with $287,554 from the $1,898,800 prize pool.
Fabrizio Gonzalez, of Uruguay, and American Eric Buchman filled the top two spots after day one, but crashed out in 19th and 21st respectively last night.
Buchman struggled during day two and was left short on chips before Mikael Thuritz finished him off as he moved on to the final table.
Freddy Deeb, of the USA, finished in 20th, and was soon joined at the rail by the likes of Shaun Deeb (18th), Mike Sexton (15th), Italian Alessio Isaia (12th) and Russian Kirill Gerasimov (11th).
American Josh Arieh was considered a favourite to do well, but his unpredictable day closed with him out in ninth for $42,514. Sweden’s Thuritz was next to go to pick up $54,837, and was soon followed by American Jason Steinberg ($71,148) in seventh.
The day’s original chip leader, Guillaume Rivet, filled sixth spot, with the Canadian taking home $92,908. Then Mack Lee, from Los Angeles, crashed out in fifth for the first six-figure payout at $122,054.
That left a final four to scrap it out in a succession of massive pots as the blinds and limits grew excessive.
Britain’s Richard Ashby had taken the chip leader shortly before Lee was eliminated, and remained on top as the day wore on. However, his challenge came to a sudden end when Billirakis knocked him out in fourth.
On the button, Billirakis opened with 200,000, while Ashby then made it three bets. Billirakis made that call, before Ashby bet in the dark before a flop of 2d-8c-7d was shown.
Billirakis called again before the 4c came on fourth street. Ashby maintained his aggression by betting out again, but this time Billirakis raised to put him all-in.
We had a showdown as Billirakis showed 2c-4h-5d-6s and Ashby held Ah-2h-5c-Qd.
Billirakis had flopped a straight, but Ashby had a made seventy-five, hoping for the low half of the pot. The Ac on the river was just what Billirakis needed, though, as he improved to a sixty-five low to secure the total pot and send Ashby out for $161,379.
It was then left up to Billirakis, Lind and Viacheslav to play on for under an hour before – with tired eyes evident on all three participants – play was called to a halt as split pots became the norm.
Final three players at the WSOP 2011 $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event:
1. George Lind (USA) – 2,860,000
2. Steve Billirakis (USA) – 2,465,000
3. Viacheslav Zhukov (Russia) – 740,000
Leading finishers from places four to 10:
4. Richard Ashby (UK) – $161,379
5. Mack Lee (USA) – $122,054
6. Guillaume Rivet (Canada) – $92,908
7. Jason Steinberg (USA) – $71,148
8. Mikael Thuritz (Sweden) – $54,837
9. Josh Arieh (USA) – $42,514
10. Todd Barlow (USA) – $33,172