“Poker is a marathon, not a sprint.” “You’ve gotta be in the game for the long haul.” “You don’t win a poker tournament on the first day.” All of these are clichés meant to tell us that poker is a game in which taking the long view is important. Even so, a seven-hour final table is taking the long view to the extreme. After one of the most protracted final tables in WSOP history, David Bach finally bested John Hanson heads up to take down the bracelet, the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy, and the more than $1.2 million for first place in Event #49, $50,000 World Championship HORSE. Bach has inscribed his name in the poker history books not only for joining an exclusive club by winning this event, but as a master of long-form poker by surviving the grueling final table which lasted from 2 PM Tuesday well past morning rush hour Wednesday.
Erik Sagstrom took the chip lead into the final table, as 2009 WSOP superstar Ville Wahlbeck came into the final eight as the short stack. The seating assignments and chip stacks looked like this once the cards went into the air:
Seat 1: Ville Wahlbeck - 645,000
Seat 2: Erik Sagstrom - 3,675,000
Seat 3: John Hanson - 1,700,000
Seat 4: Huck Seed - 1,380,000
Seat 5: Vitaly Lunkin - 2,490,000
Seat 6: David Bach - 2,345,000
Seat 7: Erik Seidel - 965,000
Seat 8: Chau Giang - 1,075,000
Erik Seidel was the first to fall, busting in eighth place ($162,382) in a three-way stud hi/lo hand with David Bach and Vitaly Lunkin. Lunkin brought it in with the in the door, as Seidel and Bach both called. Lunkin bet out on fourth street with a board of . Bach called with up and Seidel came along with showing. Lunkin picked up the on fifth street and checked over to Bach, who bet out with the . Seidel caught the and called, as did Lunkin. Lunkin checked once more on sixth street, and he and Seidel both called Bach’s bet. Bach led out again on the river, and Lunkin check-raised. Bach called, and Seidel made the call for the last of his chips. Lunkin opened   for a smooth seven low. Bach showed   for rolled-up eights. Seidel couldn’t beat either hand, and mucked as he headed to the rail.
Chau Giang busted almost immediately after Seidel, picking up $184,087 for his seventh-place finish. The game had rolled back around to hold’em, and Giang raised preflop. Erik Sagstrom three-bet, and Giang called to see the flop of . Sagstrom led out and the fireworks erupted as Giang raised, Sagstrom three-bet, and Giang raised all in. Sagstrom made the call with for top two, and Giang was in deep trouble with . Giang picked up a flush draw on the turn but the on the river was no help, and Giang made his exit.
Ville Wahlbeck made it all the way to sixth place in his amazing fourth final table of the 2009 WSOP. He added $219,655 to his earnings when he busted at the hands of David Bach. Wahlbeck raised preflop in a hand of Omaha hi/lo, and Bach was the only caller. Bach checked when the flop came down , and Wahlbeck led out. Bach raised, and Wahlbeck called to see the turn. Bach bet out, and Wahlbeck called off the last of his stack with for the wheel draw, while Bach showed for two pair. The on the river gave Bach a full house, and sent Wahlbeck to the rail in sixth place.
Huck Seed got all his money in the middle in a four-way hold’em hand against Vitaly Lunkin, Erik Sagstrom, and John Hanson. Sagstrom bet out on the flop, and Hanson raised into the side pot. Lunkin and Sagstrom both called, and the turn brought the . Lunkin bet out, and Hanson and Sagstrom both called. The on the river brought checks from all three live players, and Lunkin showed for a busted flush draw. Hanson tabled for top pair, and Sagstrom and Seed both mucked as Seed headed home in fifth place ($276,610).
Vitaly Lunkin picked up a bracelet in the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em event earlier at this WSOP, and he gave it his best shot at taking down the two highest buy-in events of the Series, but he fell short in fourth place ($368,813) here in Event #49. Lunkin had the bring-in with the in the door in a stud hi/lo hand, and Erik Sagstrom completed. Lunkin called, and then called bets from Sagstrom on both fourth and fifth streets. Lunkin paired eights on sixth street and bet out. Sagstrom raised, Lunkin reraised all in, and Sagstrom called. Lunkin opened [ 8x] for trip eights, but Sagstrom showed  in the hole for trip aces on his board of . Lunkin caught the on the river for no help, and Sagstrom scooped the pot when he drew the .
Spectators got a glimpse of how the rest of the final table was going to run out when it took another two hours before Erik Sagstrom busted in third place ($522,394). After holding the chip lead going into the final table, Sagstrom busted in a big Omaha hi/lo hand that saw all three players take a raised pot to the flop. John Hanson bet out, David Bach called, and Sagstrom moved all in over the top. Hanson reraised, and Bach called into the side pot. Bach checked the turn, and Hanson fired again. Bach called to see the on the river, and he and Hanson both checked. Hanson showed X-X for two pair, and both opponents mucked. Hanson scooped the huge pot and Sagstrom busted in third place to begin the epic heads-up match.
Hanson and Bach started heads-up play nearly equal in chips, and the pendulum swung back and forth between the two evenly-matched players for almost seven hours before a victor was declared. Long after civilians in Las Vegas were at their day jobs, Hanson and Bach continued to battle for the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.
Finally, at 10 AM, the last hand was dealt. In razz, Hanson had the bring-in with the in the door, and Bach completed with the up. Hanson raised, Bach reraised, and Hanson just called. Bach led out on fourth street when he caught the , and Hanson called all in with the . Bach held a strong lead but paired his ace on fifth street, while Hanson completed a jack low. Bach bricked again when he caught a queen on sixth street, as Hanson also bricked out pairing his five. Bach needed a river card lower than a jack that didn’t pair his other cards, and he caught the to make 9-7-6-4-A. Hanson’s on the river wasn’t enough help as he finished with 9-8-6-5-2 to end the tournament in second place ($789,199).
After 20 hours at the final table and seven hours heads up, David Bach captured the custom WSOP bracelet, the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy and the $1,276,802 top prize as the winner of Event #49, $50,000 World Championship HORSE.