2012 World Series of Poker Day 26: Esfandiari Misses Out; Mueller and Baker Heads-Up

  • Lavanya Desai
Greg Muller, David Baker

On Thursday at the 2012 World Series of Poker, Antonio Esfandiari was denied his second bracelet in Event #36: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout, and Greg Mueller and David Baker battled down to heads-up in Event #37: $2,500 Eight Game Mix. In Event #38: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em, 277 players returned and played down to the final 21. Elsewhere, Event #39: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha and Event #40: $2,500 Limit Hold'em — Six-Handed got under way.

Event #36: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout

The remaining 10 players returned on Thursday to battle at the final table. Unlike at other tournaments, the shootouts have players starting with roughly the same number of chips and so there was no overwhelming chip leader and no short stack, going into play. Ten-and-a-half hours later, only one player remained — 26-year-old Londoner Craig McCorkell. For defeating three tables over three days, he took home the top prize of $368,593 and gives Great Britain its first gold bracelet of the series.

Sardor Gaziev, who has some prior tournament cashes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was the first player eliminated. He moved all-in after a flop of {7-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{5-Hearts} holding pocket fives, only to be insta-called by Jonathan Lane who had called a preflop three-bet holding {6-Diamonds}{5-Spades}. The set held and Gaziev was heading to pick up his first WSOP cash in the amount of $22,899.

The next elimination came about 20 minutes later. Joe Tehan lost almost half his starting stack in a hand against Jeremiah Fitzpatrick early on, then lost the rest to Jonathan Lane. Tehan raised from under the gun, Lane reraised on the button and after the blinds folded, Tehan moved all-in and Lane called. Tehan showed ace-king and was up against Lane’s pocket jacks. The board ran out {q-Spades} {6-Clubs} {5-Clubs} {q-Diamonds} {7-Diamonds} and Tehan was eliminated in ninth place for $29,277.

The players had their share of supporters along the rail, with Gavin Smith, Maria Ho, Sorrel Mizzi, and Eric Froehlich among those supporting Esfandiari, while Brazilian Thiago Nishijima and Britain’s McCorkell each had their own contingent of enthusiastic fans. Unfortunately, some of the fans were a bit too spirited and had to be removed, but enough were left to keep the ESPN stage hopping.

Lane seemed to be the one involved in all the big hands early on. He doubled up Esfandiari, then chipped up via Fitzpatrick, then doubled up Roberto Romanello, then doubled back through Esfandiari. So it was no surprise that he was responsible for knocking out the next player, taking pocket jacks against the ace-jack of Nishijima. The Brazilian failed to improve and was the eighth-place finisher for $37,707.

Lane took out the next two players, as well. First, he went up against Welshman, Roberto Romanello, who was looking for the bracelet here to give him the triple crown. They got it all-in after a {8-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} flop. Lane had {10-Spades}{10-Clubs} and Romanello had {q-Clubs}{9-Clubs}. The turn and river blanked and Romanello was out in seventh for $48,924. Lane next took Alessandro Longobardi, ace-king versus ace-jack. Longobardi had some hope of a chop as the board came {5-Diamonds}{10-Clubs}{6-Hearts}{5-Spades}, but the {7-Spades} river sent Longobardi to the rail with his largest WSOP cash to date, $63,988.

Short stacked, Athanasios Polychronopoulos got the rest of his chips in with {a-Clubs}{k-Spades} versus the {j-Hearts}{j-Clubs} of Esfandiari. The board completed {9-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}{q-Spades}{8-Hearts}{9-Clubs} and Polychronopoulos was the fifth-place finisher, taking home $84,436.

It was nearly impossible for Lane to get away from the hand that sent him to the rail in fourth place after the dinner break. With the flop reading {8-Spades}{7-Spades}{9-Clubs}, Lane, with the second biggest stack, was going up against Esfandiari with the biggest stack. Lane led out and Esfandiari raised, Lane three-bet and Esfandiari four-bet all-in. Lane called and saw that he was in trouble. Esfandiari had flopped the top straight with {J-Clubs}{10-Clubs}; Lane had the bottom end with {6-Clubs}{5-Spades}. Lane needed runner-runner spades for a flush to win, or ten-jack for a chop, but the cards ran out {q-Clubs} {q-Spades} and Lane was the fourth-place finisher.

Down to three-handed, Esfandiari had an overwhelming chip lead over his two opponents, having 75 percent of the chips in play at one point. With over a $75,000 difference between third and second place, the two short stacks discussed chopping up the second and third-place prize money. Time was called, the three stepped away from the table while the two players discussed the idea. WSOP staff was called over to rule on the matter because some were concerned about propriety and the potential for collusion. Eventually, it was agreed that no such deal was or could be made.

The attempted deal became moot very shortly. After doubling up McCorkell, Esfandiari had Fitzpatrick all-in and dominated, {7-Diamonds}{7-Spades} to Esfandiari's {9-Diamonds}{9-Clubs}. Esfandiari was five cards away from going heads-up with a massive chip lead, until the flop came {K-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{4-Spades}. Esfandiari couldn’t catch up as the board ran out {j-Hearts} {5-Hearts} and was down to a million in chips, from a high of over 4 million.

On the very next hand, Esfandiari was looking for a double-up when he found {a-Hearts} {j-Hearts}, but McCorkell woke up with {a-Clubs} {k-Hearts} and Esfandiari’s hope for a second bracelet fell short.

Going into heads-up play, Fitzpatrick held a 3-1 chip advantage over McCorkell. But McCorkell worked his way up to even and then took it down, thanks to a few key hands. The biggest one saw Fitzpatrick move all-in {a-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} and McCorkell call with {8-Clubs}{8-Spades}. The board came {10-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{k-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{10-Spades} and Fitzgerald had less than the big blind remaining. He doubled up on the next hand but could not muster another double moving all-in with {5-Hearts}{2-Clubs} and getting called by McCorkell’s {8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}. McCorkell stayed ahead as the board ran out {8-Hearts}{a-Clubs}{q-Clubs}{k-Hearts}{a-Spades} and McCorkell had his first bracelet.

Event #36 Results

SeatPlayerPrize
1Craig McCorkell$368,593
2Jeremiah Fitzpatrick$228,261
3Antonio Esfandiari$151,613
4Jonathan Lane$112,512
5Athanasios Polychronopoulos$84,436
6Alessandro Longobardi$63,988
7Roberto Romanello$48,924
8Thiago Nishijima$37,707
9Joe Tehan$29,277
10Sardor Gaziev$22,899

To revisit all the excitement from the final table and the rest of the tournament, make sure you check out our live reporting blog.

Event #37: $2,500 Eight Game Mix

Event #37 began on Thursday 27 players vying to reach the final table with their eyes on the first-place prize of $271,312 and the gold bracelet. There were a number of well-known names in the field. After a long day, two players remained when the hard-stop came into effect — David “ODB” Baker and Greg “FBT” Mueller. They will return on Friday to battle for the gold bracelet and the $271,312 top prize.

Corey Zeidman saw his chance for a second bracelet this year end early when he was the first eliminated during a hand of razz. He was followed quickly by Jeff Madsen and Steve Zolotow, both eliminated during pot-limit Omaha. Other notables as the tables went from four to two included Freddy Deeb (19th), Jerrod Ankenman (20th), Barry Greenstein (21st), and Steven Sung (23rd).

Jennifer Harman was eliminated shortly after they redrew seats for the final two tables when seasoned Irish pro and former bracelet winner Donnacha O'Dea hit a full house on seventh street during a hand of stud hi/lo and that was enough to send Harman out in 16th place for $9,603.

Scott Seiver followed her out of the tournament during a hand of 2-7 triple draw when he couldn’t beat the eight-seven of Kevin Calenzo. Rep Porter and Matt Hawrilenko failed to make it to the official final table, and were eliminated in 11th and 13th place respectively.

Going into the final table, with limits of 20,000/40,000, Joseph Couden was the chip leader and Baker was close on his heels, each with over 800,000. Calenzo was the short stack with 179,000, but Chris Viox was the first eliminated from the official final table. First, he doubled up Mueller after the latter flopped the nut flush versus Viox’s over pair in a hand of limit hold’em. Then the rest of his chips went in during a hand of stud hi/lo, he was heads up against O'Dea and all-in by sixth street. Viox showed {2-Clubs}{5-Spades} / {a-Spades}{9-Spades}{4-Hearts}{q-Hearts} / {x} and O’Dea showed {5-Hearts}{2-Hearts} / {7-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{q-Clubs}{3-Hearts} / {x}. O'Dea improved to two pair with the {3-Spades} on seventh and Viox couldn’t muster anything as his last card was the {k-Diamonds}.

Mueller picked up another nut flush, this one on the river, against O’Dea, then rivered a full house against Christopher McHugh to become the chip leader within the first hour at the final table. McHugh put the rest of his chips in with ace-king-deuce, but his eight-six-four low/ace-high couldn’t beat the low of Konstantin Puchkov nor Mueller’s high hand and he was out in seventh place.

Puchkov was out next, during a hand of 2-7 triple draw. He got it all-in with nine-five, but O’Dea turned over {8-Hearts}{7-Spades}{6-Hearts}{4-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} for the win. Puchkov took a look at what would have been his last card had he not stood pat, then left to collect his sixth-place prize money without letting on what the hidden card was.

Kevin Calenzo went on a bit of a roller coaster, starting with a needed double-up thanks to pocket aces versus Baker’s ace-eight during a hand of limit hold’em. He kept chipping up, then lost half his stack during a hand of Omaha/8 against Joe Coulden. Meanwhile, O’Dea had been running neck and neck with Mueller for much of the day but lost half his chips to Baker just before the start of Level 27 in a hand of 2-7 triple draw, before giving the rest of his chips to Calenzo. Calenzo ended the Irishman’s run in fifth when he rivered a set of sevens during a hand of stud.

Couden nursed a short stack for a while but eventually fell in fourth place. He got all his chips in during a hand of limit hold’em against Mueller after the flop came {8-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}{10-Clubs}. Mueller turned over {q-Diamonds}{8-Hearts} and was ahead against Couden's {a-Diamonds}{9-Spades}. When the turn and the river ran out {3-Spades}{10-Spades}, three players remained.

It took two hands for Mueller to knock out Calenzo in third place and get to heads up against Baker. In the first hand, during the stud round, Mueller caught an ace on seventh street to give him a better two pair than Calenzo, aces and threes versus queens and jacks. Then during the next Omaha hi/lo hand, Calenzo got the rest of his chips in after the {7-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}{a-Hearts} flop. Calenzo showed the {a-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{4-Diamonds}{10-Spades} and Mueller had {a-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{3-Hearts}. Calenzo picked up a flush draw on the {6-Clubs} turn, but the {2-Diamonds} on the river sent Calenzo home in third place.

Going into heads-up play, Mueller had an overwhelming chip lead, which quickly expanded to nearly 9:1. But Baker battled back. A failed bluff just before time was called knocked him back a bit, and by the time the chips were bagged, Mueller had 2.655 million chips to Baker’s 925,000. Action will pick up in Level 30 with two hands remaining in stud at 1500 PDT (2300 BST). Mueller will be going for his third bracelet, while Baker vies for his first.

Event #37 Results

SeatPlayerPrize
1??$271,312
2???$167,637
3Kevin Calenzo$106,564
4Joe Couden$76,841
5Donnacha O’Dea$56,277
6Konstantin Puchkov$41,844
7Christopher McHugh$31,578
8Chris Viox$24,188

To see all the exciting action from this final table and the rest of the tournament, make sure you check out the live reporting blog.

Event #38: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em

On Thursday, 277 players returned from the starting field of 2,502 to play down to the money and then on toward the final table. At the end of 10 levels of play, 21 players remained. Chip leader going into Day 3 is Jeffrey Manza with 1,302,000. Dung Nguyen is close on his heels with 1,273,000. Also returning will be Blair Hinkle, David Pham, Jason Lester, Theo Tran, and Scott Clements.

The first seven players eliminated on Thursday fell short of the money, but the rest were guaranteed a minimum payout of $2,771. With four players eliminated during the same hand, we had no official bubble boy. Among the players to leave soon after the money bubble burst were Tony Cousineau, Fred Goldberg, Gabriel Nassif, and Philip Tom. As the day wore on, Harrison Gimbel, Eric Baldwin, Ari Engel, Jonathan Tomayo, Jarred Solomon, Will Failla, Matt Affleck, Tommy Vedes, Jordan Morgan, and two former November Niners — Eoghan O'Dea (whose father was final tabling Event #37) and Jason Senti — also hit the rail.

Start of the day chip leader Layne Flack will return on Friday; he busted in 23rd place. Also out near the end of the day were Isaac Haxton (39th), Lauren Kling (31st) and former bracelet winner Keven Stammen (28th).

Manza gained some of his chips in a hand against Israeli pro llan Boujenah. With the board reading {3-Hearts}{8-Spades}{3-Diamonds}{4-Clubs}{9-Hearts}, Manza set Boujenah all-in, and after two minutes Boujenah called. Manza revealed pocket nines for a rivered full-house that beat Boujenah's pocket tens. But to add insult to injury, a fellow player at the table told Boujenah he had folded a nine, meaning Manza had hit a one-outer to eliminate him.

The final 21 players will return Friday to play to a winner. Play will start promptly at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) in the Amazon room.

To see action from these players and more, make sure you don't miss a single hand by checking out the live reporting blog.

Event #39: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha

Last year, this event drew a field of 361 and Ben Lamb emerged the winner, taking home $814,436 and the gold bracelet. On Thursday, 293 players entered creating a prize pool of $2,754,200. Thirty-six players will be guaranteed a minimum cash of $16,801 with the winner earning $661,000.

This event always brings out the notables and this year was no exception. The starting field included Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Viktor Blum, Justin Bonomo, Andy Frankenberger, Brian Rast, Mike Matusow, Justin Schwartz, Erik Seidel, David Benyamine, and last year’s winner, Lamb. None will be returning on Friday, however.

At the end of Day 1, 88 players remained, with an average chip stack of just under 100,000. Chip leader moving on to Day 2 will be Benjamin Sage with 358,400. Returning with above-average chips stacks are John Riordan, Jason Mercier, Nenad Medic, Matt Stout, Michael Binger, Bryn Kenney, Daniel Alaei, and Sammy Farha.

Mike Cameron busted after a rough day that had him losing to quads twice. The first was against Mohsin Charania. The second time was against Will “The Thrill” Failla. On a {6-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}{5-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{k-Clubs} board, Cameron moved all-in and Failla snap-called. Failla held the {8-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{5-Spades}{4-Spades} for quad fives and Cameron showed just two cards, the {10s]{10-Clubs} for a turned full house.

To follow all the exciting action of this illustrious event, stay tuned in to the PokerNews live reporting blog.

Event #40: $2,500 Limit Hold'em — Six-Handed

A starting field of 302 players came out on Thursday to play Day 1 of the three-day event, and only 101 will return on Friday to continue hunting for the gold bracelet. Chip leader at the start of Day 2 will be Vincent Gironda with over 60,000. Right on his heels will be Michael Reed with 56,800, Andre Akkari and Terrence Chan, each with over 50,000.

Also returning with above-average chips stacks are top pros Chad Brown, John Hennigan, Scott Seiver, Sorel Mizzi, Jon Turner, Humberto Brenes, Dan Kelly, Brian Meinders and Maria Ho.

Terrence Chan will come back on Friday sitting fourth in chips and going for his eighth cash and first bracelet of the series. In one hand that helped him build his big stack, Chan's opponent called Chan's preflop three-bet, then called again when Chan bet the {q-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{3-Hearts} flop. Chan bet on the {7-Clubs} turn and called his opponent's raise. They both checked the {2-Hearts} river, and when Chan tabled {q-Diamonds}{j-Spades} for queens, his opponent mucked.

To follow all the chip ups and knockouts on Day 2, make sure to check out our PokerNews live reporting blog throughout the day.

On Tap

On Friday, Event #37: $2,500 Eight Game Mix will crown its winner beginning at 1500 PDT (2300 BST), then at 1300 PDT (2100 BST) Event #38: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em will also attempt to play down to a winner. Event #39: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha and Event #40: $2,500 Limit Hold'em Six Handed will play down toward the final table. Finally, two new events will get started, Event #41: $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em and Event #42: $2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Low 8-or-Better at 1200 PDT (2000 BST) and 1700 PDT (0100 BST) respectively.

To make sure you don't miss any of the action in Friday's events, check out the live reporting blog.

Video of the Day

Sarah Grant comes to us from the rowdy Amazon Room during the $3,000 Shootout final table as she asks Antonio Esfandiari, Athanasios Polychronopoulos and eventual winner Craig McCorkell just what it’s like to play with such enthusiastic fans in the stands.

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