2012 WSOP, Day 37 – Guy Laliberte In Contention For “Big One” Championship, Randy Ashe Makes Event #53 Final Table


Amid the din of the running of “The Big One For One Drop” – and the stunning news of the surrender of former Full Tilt Poker bigwig Ray Bitar to U. S. authorities – several other events were in action on Monday. While none of the tournaments awarded a bracelet, there will be plenty of hubbub today as not only the “Big One” determines a champion but two other tournaments will also crown victors.

  • Event #53 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em – Day Three

Randy Ashe

One of the larger $1500 NLHE tournaments of this year’s WSOP (3166 players) was unable to reach a conclusion by early this morning. 28 players came back to the tables yesterday, with Canada’s Randy Ashe sitting in second place behind Hugh Henderson and a host of top pros including Lee Childs, Victoria Coren and Max Steinberg amassed behind them.

The carnage started immediately with ten players going out the doors of the Amazon Room to bring the field down to two tables. Ashe still was among the leaders at this time (along with Childs and Coren), but Steinberg had departed after Neil Willerson dumped him from the tournament. Ashe would be responsible for the elimination of one of the two notable pros as the action worked into the late afternoon.

After Coren put out a bet from the hijack position, Ashe (cutoff) and Lanny Levine (SB) made the call to see the 8♦ 9♥ K♠ flop. After a check from Levine, Coren made a continuation bet, only to see Ashe double it and Levine fold. Deliberating her choices, Coren said, “Wow…really?” before making the call and tabling her A♥ K♥. Ashe had snapped off the British pro; his pocket eights, leading pre-flop, only got stronger with the flopped set. Once the turn and river blanked, Victoria Coren was out in 17th place and Ashe broke the two million mark.

Vladimir-Mefodichev - Neil-Willerson

Ashe would ride those chips for some time before losing a huge pot to Sylvain Gonon to drop under the million mark. By the time the final table was determined (surprisingly with the elimination of Gonon), Ashe was sitting in sixth place with 925K in chips. He unfortunately wasn’t able to get anything going after that point and would eventually depart the final table in eighth place ($71,933) just prior to the dinner break.

The remaining seven players would battle for the next six hours, unable to determine a victor. After an hour of heads up play, Vladimir Mefodichev and Willerson decided to call it a night with Willerson (8.92 million) holding the lead over Mefodichev (5.335 million). They will come back this afternoon at 2PM (Pacific Time) to crown a champion.

  • Event #54 – $1000 No Limit Hold’em – Day Two

265 players came back on Monday from the 3221 who started over the weekend to try to get as close to the final table as possible. Depending on your definition of “close,” they were able to do that as 15 players will come back today to figure out who will take home the WSOP bracelet and a $500,075 payday.

Two Canadians will be a part of the festivities today, with Nghi Van Tran currently sitting in eighth place with his 531K in chips and Ian Chan a bit further back in twelfth with 229K. They are looking up the leaderboard at Will Jaffe, who has been able to accumulate 1.947 million in chips and is one of two players (Ken Fishman at 1.4 million is the other) over the million chip mark.

23 Canucks have been able to take away something for their efforts in this tournament. Although he wasn’t the top money winner, Nicholas Verkaik has achieved something that only Terrence Chan can beat among Canadian players; with his 292nd place finish in this event, Verkaik has earned his seventh cash of the 2012 WSOP. Joining him in bringing back some green were Thomas Doyle, Rudy Blondeau, Elizabeth Bennett-Martin, Jonathan Roy, Shane Hewko, Stephen Marta, Matthew Alexander, Christopher Fraser, Vincent Jacques, Rebecca Keetch, Steve Stelluti, Claudio Rocca, James Bunner, Duc Phuong Nguyen, Christos Arvanitis, Gary Bain, Owen Crowe, Zoran Andric, Allan Mishra, Jonas Mackoff (his fifth 2012 WSOP cash), Jonathan Plens, David Bernstein and Kyle Fleishman.


  • Event #55 – $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop – Day Two

Of course, a sizeable majority of the eyes in the Amazon Room were on the “Big One For One Drop” as it worked through its Day Two proceedings. 37 players from the original 48 player field were back for more Texas Hold’em action, with Daniel Negreanu (on a short stack) and “Big One” creator Guy Laliberte (in the midst of the pack) ready to carry the Canadian flag high.

Whether it is the extensive coverage that the tournament is getting or just a “freak occurrence” of the game of poker, it seems that there have been several occasions where quads have appeared. The now-legendary fold on Sunday of quad eights by Mikhail Smirnov to what he thought was the straight flush of John Morgan has been the most notable, but another quad hand resulted in a win on Sunday. Through Monday’s action, Smirnov hit another quad – this time nines – in eliminating Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Negreanu from the “Big One.”

The 37 men moved rapidly through the play on Monday, getting down to the unofficial final table of nine just before midnight. Ilya Bulychev was the unfortunate player to be the biggest “bubble boy” in poker history when he clashed with Sam Trickett, getting all the chips in pre-flop. Trickett’s K♣ 7♥ was up on Bulychev’s Q♦ 6♦, but the 7♦ 4♦ 2♣ technically shifted the lead to Bulychev’s flush draw. A 3♠ opened up more outs for Bulychev (gut shot straight draw), but a 2♠ on the river ended the tournament for Bulychev in tenth place with nothing to show for his $1 million buy in. Soon afterwards, Antonio Esfandiari would knock off Mike Sexton in ninth place ($1,109,333) to set the final table for today’s play:

Antonio Esfandiari,

1. Antonio Esfandiari, 39.925 million

2. Sam Trickett, 37 million

3. Guy Laliberte, 21.7 million

4. Brian Rast, 11.35 million

5. Phil Hellmuth, 10.925 million

6. David Einhorn, 8.375 million

7. Richard Yong, 7.475 million

8. Bobby Baldwin, 7.15 million

This final table is setting up to be one of the most memorable in WSOP history. There are two businessmen (Yong and Einhorn), four poker pros (Esfandiari, Trickett, Rast and Hellmuth) and two “straddlers” (Baldwin and Laliberte, both businessmen and poker pros). A victory by Esfandiari would catapult him to the top of the all-time money list (he would have over $22 million in career earnings) and don’t think that Hellmuth won’t remind everyone within earshot if he is able to add enough onto his $13 million in career earnings to take over the all-time lead regardless of the finish of this tournament (third would add slightly more than $4 million to his career haul, while second would add over $10 million). Then there are the side notes of Laliberte winning the event he created and venture capitalist Einhorn’s declaration that he will donate his winnings to charity.

For those that are interested (and who isn’t?), the live stream of the final table of the “Big One For One Drop” begins at noon today on the WSOP website and will play down to the champion.

  • Event #56 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em – Day One

Another $1500 NLHE event cranked up its Day One play yesterday, drawing out a 2798 player field for the festivities. As has been the case with the smaller buy in tournaments, the pace of eliminations was rapid, with only 305 coming back today for play (short of the money bubble at 297 players).

Of the Top 50 players remaining in the tournament, Canada can only claim two slots – Jason James (19th, 89,100) and Noah Vaillancourt (38th, 74,300). Negreanu is in the hunt, jumping into this tournament after his elimination from “The Big One,” currently sitting with 57,200 in chips, good for 75th place. They all are looking up at Donald Vogel, who is stacked with 145,200 to hold the chip lead.

It’s going to be a long one today for those who drive deep in the tournament. The plan is for the final table to be determined or to get as close as possible for the conclusion of this event tomorrow. The eventual champion walks off with the WSOP bracelet and $661,022 in cash.

Event #57 – $10,000 Six Handed No Limit Hold’em World Championship and Event #58 – $3000 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo – STARTING TODAY

While the battle continues in “The Big One,” two tournaments take the Brasilia Room over today for their Day One play. Both of the tournaments are fairly big and should draw out the top pros, especially the Six Handed NLHE World Championship at noon. The PLO8 tournament should pick up some of those who have departed Event #57 with its 5PM start.

Believe it or not, we’ve almost come to the end of the 2012 WSOP! Beginning this Saturday, the first of the three Day Ones for the $10,000 Championship Event will begin as poker looks to crown its latest World Champion. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some activity to take care of before that, however, as the 2012 World Series of Poker rolls on.



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