It has been a wild four days here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the 2012 Sands Bethlehem DeepStack Extravaganza $500,000 Guaranteed Main Event has played down to a conclusion. From 188 total entries Chris Klodnicki has emerged as the tournament's winner after having led at the end of Day 1a and Day 2 as well.
The money bubble having burst late Sunday night on Day 2, just 16 players remained of the 188 total entries in the event, with Klodnicki carrying a healthy advantage into Monday's final day of play. Then the first 90-minute level saw three more eliminations — Denis Gnidash in 16th, Michael Ryan in 15th, and Vince Baldassano in 14th.
The pace remained rapid during the following level as Edward Pham eliminated John Chapman in 13th, Klodnicki knocked out Drew Heller in 12th, then Richard Allen knocked out both Ian Searing in 11th and Daniel Wach in 10th to set up the nine-handed final table.
Klodnicki had a slight lead over Joseph Tracy to start the final table, and as they played into the next level Klodnicki claimed the first elimination by knocking out a short-stacked Michael Schoultz in ninth when Schoultz's failed to improve versus Klodnicki's . Micah Raskin then lost a lot of his chips to Pham after the latter was all in with pocket aces against Raskin's flopped two pair, then the board paired to counterfeit Raskin and give Pham the better hand. Soon after Klodnicki eliminated Raskin in eighth when his held versus Raskin's .
A short while later William Tonking felted Timothy Chang in seventh in hand that saw Chang all in with against Tonking's , but a ten flopped and Chang couldn't catch up. And next to go was Tracy in sixth after jamming a flop with second pair of kings only to run into a flopped set of aces for Pham.
Pham soon assumed the chip lead and would maintain it as Allen knocked out Tonking in fifth when the latter's failed to hold against Allen's . Then Pham knocked out Coury Mascagni in fourth after Mascagni ran into Pham's to lose the last of his stack.
Three-handed play between Allen, Klodnicki, and Pham was especially well contested, with each of the three enjoying the chip lead at times as the stacks remained fairly close throughout. Then came a decisive hand in which Allen ran pocket queens into Klodnicki's pocket aces to lose most of his stack, then Klodnicki took the rest shortly thereafter to eliminate Allen in third.
We were preparing for what might well have been a lengthy heads-up duel between Klodnicki and Pham — both had especially deep stacks of 100-plus big blinds each — with Klodnicki enjoying a slight chip advantage to begin their battle. But the pair decided upon a different course, and after playing out a hand in which Pham shoved and mucked, thereby eliminating Pham in second, Klodnicki earned the title.
Thanks to Joe Giron for providing the excellent photos throughout the tournament, and to the Sands for being such great hosts. Good night and happy holidays from Bethlehem!