The 2012 World Series of Poker has been one to remember, and it’s only about halfway done! Phil Hellmuth captured his 12th WSOP bracelet, Phil Ivey has made five final tables, and John Monnette continues to have a year that puts him in contention for Player of the Year honors.
While those storylines continue to dominate the headlines, other points of interest have oftentimes fallen through the cracks. We’re talking about various poker hands that have directly influenced the outcome of their respective tournaments, some that were either highly entertaining, a turning point, or just plain sick.
“Turn” of Events Sends Scott on His Way to PLO Gold
It’s funny how some hands begin so innocently but turn out to be defining moments on the path to victory. Such a hand happened during four-handed play in Event #26: $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha, which had attracted 589 runners and created a prize pool of $1,607,970.
At the time, Vadzim Kursevich was the chip leader, followed by Austin Scott. Between them, they held a decent lead over Brett Richey and Scott Stanko and seemed primed to make it to heads-up play. As fate would have it, that plan was nixed. We’ll let the hand from the PokerNews Live Blog tell the tale of what happened next:
Scott Stanko limped in from under the gun and Austin Scott limped on the button. Vadzim Kursevich completed from the small blind and then Brett Richey checked from the big blind. All four players took a flop and all four players checked.
The turn was the and what we thought was an innocent family pot all of a sudden exploded. Kursevich and Richey checked before Stanko bet 110,000. Scott then made it 400,000 to go and Kursevich reraised the pot. Richey folded, as did Stanko. Scott called all in for 1.735 million and just like that it was on.
Kursevich had flopped top set with the . Scott had nailed the turn with the by hitting the case ten.
The river completed the board with the and Scott's full house, tens over fives, was the winning hand to give him the massive double up.
Kursevich went on to outlast Stanko and ultimately finish in third place for $158,530, while Scott defeated Richey in heads-up play to capture his first bracelet and the $361,797 first-place prize.
Big Drama in New Four-handed NLHE Event
This year the WSOP introduced several new events to the schedule including Event #28: $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em Four-Handed, which garnered quite a bit of attention from the poker community. Amateurs and pros turned out in force as 750 players paid the price of admission and created a prize pool of $1,706,250.
Over the course of three days, the field was whittled down to a final table of four — Anthony Gregg, James Schaaf, Brendon Rubie and Timothy Adams. Each was guaranteed the $114,711 prize for fourth place, but each wanted the $392,476 that came with a WSOP gold bracelet.
Now, short-handed play is known to drive the action and stimulate big pots, and this final table was no exception. After Gregg was eliminated in fourth place, a big hand developed that had major implications for one player. Here’s a look at that hand as reported in the PokerNews Live Blog:
Timothy Adams raised to 48,000 on the button and Brendon Rubie three-bet to 112,000 from the small blind. James Schaaf folded his big blind and Adams four-bet to 243,000. Rubie asked for a count of what Adams had behind, about 1.4 million, and called.
The flop fell and Rubie checked it to Adams who bet 201,000. Rubie put together chips for a raise, and a hefty raise it was. He made it 976,000 to go, sending Adams into the tank about two minutes before he re-raised all-in for 1,552,000 total. Rubie shrugged and called, turning over for a flush draw and straight draw.
Adams tabled for ace high and was ahead, but had plenty of outs to fade. He did just that as the turn and river gave him the pot with ace high.
"He's the sickest," said Tristan Wade, on the rail to sweat his friend. "Coin it. Sickest."
It was a lot of outs to dodge; in fact, according to our PokerNews Odds Calculator, Rubie had a 56 percent chance on the flop of eliminating Adams in third place. The turn dropped that to 38.64 percent. Luckily for Adams, he was able to beat the odds and doubled on the hand, which ultimately led to a victory.
Phillips Denies Cada Second Bracelet
On Monday, Joe Cada began the third and final day of Event #31 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em as the chip leader with only 19 remaining. He managed to use that big stack to make it all the way to the final table and down to heads-up play where he held a more than 2-1 chip lead against Carter Phillips.
Cada was primed to become the first Main Event to win another bracelet after his big win since Carlos Mortensen. Unfortunately for Cada, sometimes having the chips and momentum just isn’t enough.
In a hand early in heads-up play, Cada and Phillips swapped positions and the 2009 Main Event winner was forced to play from behind:
Joe Cada had the button and raised to 200,000. Carter Phillips three-bet from the big blind to 500,000 and Cada replied by moving all-in. Phillips called and the hands were tabled:
Phillips paired his queen on the flop and Cada was hunting for a king to end it here. Fourth street was the and fifth the , scoring a double up for Carter Phillips.
Phillips is now our chip leader with 7,730,000 to Cada's 4,870,000.
It was neither a bad beat nor crazy hand, but it did light a fire under Phillips. The duo battled for a couple of more hours, with Cada even retaking the chip lead, but that hand was indicative that it wasn’t going to be easy. In the end, Phillips denied Cada a prestigious second bracelet. Interestingly, the win gave Phillips his second bracelet.
Esfandiari Shows He’s Got More Than Just Tricks in the Shootout
On Tuesday, 587 players packed into the Brasilia Room for a good old-fashioned shootout. Of course we’re talking about Event #36 $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout, which featured 13 nine-handed tables and 47 ten-handed tables. One hand we caught on Day 1 didn't contain big cards, but it did feature a sick call by Antonio Esfandiari:
Antonio Esfandiari opened to 1,200 with the button, and Grayson Ramage three-bet to 3,600. Esfandiari called.
The dealer fanned , and Ramage tanked for a bit before leading out for 2,700. Esfandiari tank-called.
The turn was the , and Ramage tanked again. He dropped 5,300 in front of him, and Esfandiari stared him down. He eventually gathered five yellow T1,000 chips and three black T100 chips, and threw them forward.
The completed the board, and Ramage moved all in for a pot-sized bet. Esfandiari studied Ramage more intensely than he had on the first two streets, and eventually made the call.
Ramage tabled for nine-high, and Esfandiari showed for ace-high. Ramage left the Brasilia Room, and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier gave Esfandiari props for the call.
"These wizards think they can run me over," Esfandiari told us, grinning.
Esfandiari went on to defeat Grospellier and punch his ticket to the top 60. Obviously the full ramifications of the aforementioned hand are undetermined, as the event has not yet played out. That means you can follow the Event #36 $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout action by visiting our Live Blog and see if Esfandiari’s ace-high call can lead him to his second WSOP bracelet.