It is an oddity that occurs every year at the World Series of Poker. After seven weeks of the cacophony of chip shuffling, players yelling in either celebration or agony and the bustle of the floor staff, it all comes down to this: one quiet day, three tables and a crowd gathered to watch who will move on to play for the World Championship in the 2012 WSOP Championship Event.
Canadian fans had their eyes on Marc-Andre Ladouceur, who was the lone Canadian left in the 27 player field. He wasn’t satisfied with just being in the final 27, however, Ladouceur was atop the leaderboard with 15.875 million in chips when the survivors from the 6598 player field convened in the Amazon Room for Day Seven. His closest competitor was Daniel Strelitz, who held 12.79 million, while history was in the making with two women, Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann, looking to move onto the “October Nine” final table.
Thoughts were around the Rio that the 27 players would be tentative in the early going. That proved to be anything but the case as the competitors came out firing from the start. Barely thirty minutes into the action, Nicco Maag was the first to walk out of the Amazon Room when his A-J was dominated by Russell Thomas’ A-Q. About an hour later, Jan Heitmann would be dispatched when his pocket sixes failed against the pocket eights of Strelitz.
Ladouceur was quiet through much of this early action. He donated a few chips to Hille while he watched Robert Salaburu steam past him for the chip lead. Salaburu wasn’t the only one scooping up chips, as Thomas would use his knockout of Maag to push his stack over the 15 million level by the midpoint of the afternoon.
Strelitz was going the other direction with what was his monster stack at the start of the day. He bled chips through the early action before getting in a fight with Scott Abrams. After a bet from Abrams, Strelitz three bet the action to 720K. Undaunted, Abrams fired a fourth bullet to 1.25 million and Strelitz stuck his remaining chips in the center and was called by Abrams.
Abrams was in great shape with his pocket Kings over Strelitz’ pocket sixes and a King on flop all but assured Strelitz’ demise. Once a nine peeled on the turn, Strelitz was drawing dead and gone in 24th place while Abrams rocketed over the 16 million mark.
By the time the players reached the early evening, Ladouceur had fallen behind Thomas and Abrams but was still in good shape with his 19 million in chips. Over the next level, Hille would continue to be a thorn in his side as she chiseled parts of his stack into hers. He fell further back as the players took to the dinner break, holding 16 million in chips behind Jacob Balsiger, Salaburu, Abrams, Michael Esposito and Greg Merson.
Back from dinner, Hille continued to bedevil Ladouceur. On a J-9-10-8-K board (a world of draws there, for sure), Ladouceur checked over to Hille, who popped out a bet of 1.275 million. After careful consideration, an exasperated Ladouceur sent his cards to the muck as he watched Hille’s stack crack the 10 million mark.
The beginning of the end for Ladouceur came deep into the night’s play. After opening the betting to 480K, Ladouceur saw Andras Koroknai three bet him to 1.2 million. Ladouceur didn’t back down, pushing out 2.15 million and Koroknai moved all in. Ladouceur called and, after both players turned up A-K, with Koroknai’s club Ace over Ladouceur’s club King and Ladouceur’s spade Ace over Koroknai’s spade King, it looked as if they would split the pot.
The fates of poker can be a fickle thing, however. An all-club 10-Q-2 flop came down and, once an eight of clubs fell on the turn, Ladouceur had gone from a chopped pot to losing to Koroknai’s nut flush to double him up. At that point, Ladouceur was knocked down to five million in chips and would never recover.
It was another brutal hand that put Ladouceur out of the tournament. After getting his chips to the center with A-7 against Greg Merson’s pocket fours, two sevens came on the flop. Unfortunately, the third card of the flop was a four, giving Merson a boat over Ladouceur’s trips. Looking for an Ace or the case seven, Ladouceur instead saw a deuce on the turn and a six on the river, ending the Last Canadian Standing’s tournament in thirteenth place ($465,159).
It would only take another hour and a half for the “October Nine” to be determined. The historic runs by Hille and Baumann looked to be coming true as both reached the final eleven players. Both were on the short stack, however, and would meet their demise before the end of the night.
Hille’s tournament was ended in eleventh place by Koroknai when his pocket sevens withstood the assault of Hille’s A-Q, although the 4-3-J-K flop and turn presented some excitement. Down to the unofficial final table, Baumann would fight valiantly to stay in the tournament, but it was Koroknai who did the deed once again, his A-J standing tall over Baumann’s A-9 to end her tournament in tenth place and end the hopes of a historic return by a female player to the WSOP Championship Event final table.
Using the knockout of the ladies, Koroknai will be well stacked when the WSOP Championship Event final table gathers in October to decide a champion:
1. Jesse Sylvia (West Tisbury, MA), 43.875 million
2. Andras Koroknai (Debrecen, Hungary), 29.375 million
3. Greg Merson (Laurel, MD), 28.725 million
4. Russell Thomas (Hartford, CT), 24.8 million
5. Steven Gee (Sacramento, CA), 16.86 million
6. Michael Esposito (Seaford, NY), 16.26 million
7. Robert Salaburu (San Antonio, TX), 15.155 million
8. Jacob Balsiger (Tempe, AZ), 13.115 million
9. Jeremy Ausmus (Las Vegas, NV), 9.805 million
The final table features some interesting highlights, even without a Canadian or the ladies there. Koroknai is a World Poker Tour champion who is looking for the second leg of poker’s “Triple Crown”; Merson won the largest $1000 NLHE event of the 2012 WSOP and is looking to make his second seven-figure score, while Ausmus is a dangerous player who has almost $1 million in earnings from online poker and, with his ninth place earnings ($754,798) in his pocket, now has almost $1 million in live tournament poker cashes.
With that, the 2012 World Series of Poker has come to a close…at least for now. The WSOP Europe is on the horizon (September 21-30) and these nine men will come back on October 28 and determine the next World Champion on October 30. The winner of the event will pocket $8,527,982 (minus the ninth place money they have already received) and the prestigious WSOP Championship Event bracelet.
CanadaPoker would like to congratulate Marc-Andre Ladouceur on an outstanding run in the Championship Event and look forward to his next foray into the tournament poker battlegrounds!