Kenneth Griffin started today 2nd in chips out of the 21 players remaining. He fought hard, played aggressively, and battled his way to his first WSOP bracelet. Griffin had to battle a field of players including the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, David Baker, Andrew Teng, and our chipleader to start the day Jonathan Driscoll.
In the first hour of play today a whopping seven players were eliminated narrowing the field down to 14. Griffin helped with those eliminations a bit by knocking out Nicolo Calia in 16th place. Esfandiari had trouble gaining momentum at beginning of the day with his stack dipping to as low as 200,000 at one point. David Baker came into the day short stacked and although he fought hard, he was eventually eliminated in 13th place.
When we reached the final table, Esfandiari had rebounded to take the chip lead while Griffin wasn't far behind him. The first player eliminated from the final table was Jeremiah Siegmund and he was followed out the door by Aaron Massey.
Esfandiari started the final table with the chip lead along with being the far-and-away most experienced player at the table. Unfortunately, he lost a few huge pots early during final table play which included running into aces when he held ace-eight on an ace high board, and running king-ten into another players ace-king and he was knocked out in seventh place.
Jonathan Lane, who was the chip leader at the start of day 2, was next to go in sixth place and he was followed by Andrew Teng in fifth place who racked up his 4th cash in the 2011 WSOP and his 12th overall WSOP cash.
Eric Baudry stayed quiet for most of the day, not getting involved in many big hands and eventually was eliminated in fourth place. Our third place finisher was Philip Hammerling who had never cashed in a WSOP event before today. He flopped trip sevens from his blind in an unraised pot and was outdrawn by Griffin's flush draw to be eliminated.
When we reached heads up play it was obvious to all present that Griffin's aggression and gutsy plays were getting under the skin of Jean Luc Marais who couldn't seem to gain any ground. On the final hand of the night, Griffin already had a large chip advantage to his opponent and found himself in a dream situation.
Marais declared he was all in preflop and Griffin looked down at his cards... pocket aces. He excitedly called and found that he would only have to beat Marais' king-six offsuit to take the bracelet. The board ran out blanks and Griffin's rail went crazy with excitement, hoisting the champion onto their shoulders and singing his praise.
Griffin is no stranger to battle as he served in the Marines for more than 10 years including tours in Iraq and Afganistan. He now works as a consultant for the Marines and just got back from an eight-month trip to Afganistan a week ago. His brother and many of his friends were present to witness his victory and it was clear from the looks on all their faces that this would be a moment none of them will ever forget.
Congratulations to Ken Griffin, winner of Event #45: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em, he takes home $455,356 and his first ever WSOP gold bracelet for his achievement!