Coming off of Day Two, Cajelais was in second place in the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, topped only by Sam El Sayed in the chip race when action resumed on Tuesday. Cajelais seemingly couldn’t make a bad move through the Day Three play, expanding his chip stack from slightly more than 371K to over a million in chips through several knockouts. He would eliminate World Series of Poker bracelet winner Oleksii Kovalchuk after rivering a flush to seize the lead, then expanded it when he knocked off Igor Gurskiy after Gurskiy misread his hand.
The eliminations would keep coming for Cajelais as he once again hit a flush to usher Mansour Khorramshani out the door after Khorramshani had hit a pair of Aces on the flop (and had a gut shot straight draw) that failed to hold up against Cajelais’ K-2 of hearts. After the hot-running Cajelais eliminated Oleg Sheplenko late in the night on Tuesday, he was atop the leaderboard with 1.19 million in chips and poised to make a run at the first WPT final table of its Season XI schedule.
Wednesday, however, wasn’t as good for the Quebecois. With 18 players remaining, Cajelais could never seem to get any traction on the field. Artur Voskanyan rivered a set against Erik in the early going to chop some chips out of Cajelais’ stack and he kept plummeting from there. Walid Bou Habib took a sizeable pot off of Cajelais as the ten handed final table approached to push Erik to only 670K in chips, but he would survive to be one of the last ten men left in the event as the dark of night fell on Cyprus.
Starting off the ten handed final table, Cajelais was battling for his life with only 535K in chips, although that was good enough for seventh as the action began. The chips kept eluding Cajelais as the night wore on, with Kiryl Radzivonau knocking him down to 420K. At this point, Cajelais entered into “push mode” to attempt to survive to the final WPT six handed table.
As the players began to fall, Cajelais fought with his limited ammunition to make it to the final seven players. He would make a key double up through Radzivonau to move up to 775K in chips, but he couldn’t push those chips any further. On his final hand, Cajelais raised on the button only to meet Marvin Rettenmaier’s all in from the big blind. Cajelais made the call, turning up an A-6 of hearts against Rettenmaier’s lowly pocket deuces, and saw a promising J-10-4 flop that held two hearts.
With 23 outs two times (any heart, Ace, six and the potential of the board double pairing to counterfeit Rettenmaier’s pair), Cajelais was a heavy favorite. Instead of helping him, the turn and river amazingly blanked off, leaving Erik Cajelais as the final table “bubble boy,” albeit $43,690 richer.
Although Erik’s elimination leaves the WPT Cyprus Classic final table without a Canadian to cheer for, there is a potential for some history during today’s play:
1. Ran Azor, 2.405 million
2. Artur Voskanyan, 2.003 million
3. Marvin Rettenmaier, 2.002 million
4. Kiryl Radzivonau, 1.865 million
5. Victor Parashiv, 1.115 million
6. Joseph El Khoury, 435,000
The familiar face among the six men coming to the final table today is Rettenmaier, the defending WPT World Champion. By winning the WPT Championship back in May, Rettenmaier is setting up to take a run at something that has never happened on the WPT circuit, back to back championships. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi has been the player who made the closest run to that achievement when he had back to back final tables in 2006 – finishing runner up in one tournament and winning the other – and no one else has made as close a run as that in the eleven year history of the WPT.
It should be an exciting day of play as the World Poker Tour looks to crown its first champion of its Season XI schedule later tonight!