Redemption. That was the only word on Jonathan Aguiar's mind as he played Brandon Cantu heads up for the bracelet in Event #5: €10,450 Mixed Max - No-Limit Hold'em. Aguiar, who stone bubbled in this exact event in 2011, was battling to redeem what he referred to as "the worst day of his career". After a six hour heads up battle on Day 4 and 45 more minutes on Day 5, Aguiar was able to seal the deal and defeat Cantu heads up, earning him his first WSOPE bracelet as well as a €258,047 first place prize.
Going back to Day 1, this prestigious event turned out many of poker's elite. Its unique format gives players a chance to utilize their skills in many different styles of play. The first day began with 9-handed play and it moved down to 6-handed on Day 2. Once the final 16 players were reached a random bracket was drawn and heads up matches were played down until there was a champion
The final bracket of 16 did not disappoint in terms of powerful names from the poker world. Phil Hellmuth, Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier, Joe Keuther, Mike Watson, Jason Mercier, Paul Tedeschi, Vladimir Troyanovskiy, and Jennifer Tilly were all among those to make it to the heads up portion of this tournament, only to be eliminated in the first round. These players earned a payday of €20,443 for their performances in this tournament.
The next round saw the exits of Kristijonas Andrulis, Martin Jacobson, Marvin Rettenmaier, and Konstantin Puchkov, all of whom took home €42,094. The eliminations of these players saw the formation of the final four.
Aguiar took care of Jaka fairly quickly and was able to rest up for the final match. The match between Cantu and Roger Hairabedian, however, was a different story. The match lasted for roughly nine hours and saw much controversy. Tournament Director Jack Effel was called on two occasions to assess issues brought up by Cantu. The first involved Hairabedian moving to a different side of the table which Cantu did not think should be allowed. The second was ruled in favor of Cantu, and involved Hairabedian betting after he had already checked. These issues delayed play for about an hour total, but despite all of that Cantu was able to clinch his spot in the finals.
Cantu held the chip lead going into heads up with Aguiar and came out with guns firing. All of that changed, however, during a hand where both players saw a flop of . Cantu led for 75,000 and Aguiar raised to 270,000. Cantu moved out a three-bet to 540,000 and Aguiar four-bet all in.
Cantu held the nut flush but Aguiar was drawing live with his set of eights. The on the turn was of no help to Aguiar and Cantu was one card away from the championship. It was not meant to be, however, as the fell on the river and gave Aguiar a full house.
From there the two players battled for another roughly three hours and by the end of the night, Cantu was able to overtake the chip lead once again. Due to scheduling issues and the casino closing at 5:00 AM, the match had to be rescheduled to when both players were available after the Main Event. Both Cantu and Aguiar busted from the Main Event on Day 1 and so they were back to the felt the next day.
The stacks were fairly close to even when play began on Day 5 with Cantu holding 1.52 million to Aguiar's 1.361 million. Aguiar drew first blood in the match by taking the chip lead on the second hand and he never looked back after that. Aguiar won several large confrontations early on and Cantu was visibly upset. Finally, Aguiar raised to 40,000 before the flop and Cantu shipped all in for his last roughly 600,000 more. Aguiar snapped and the hands were turned over:
The players were racing with Cantu's tournament on the line. The flop came down and Aguiar was able to pair his ace and jump into the lead. The fell on fourth street and Aguiar was one card away from the championship and his first bracelet. The dealer put down the on the river and Cantu's tournament was officially over.
PokerNews would like to extend our congratulations to Jonathan Aguiar for conquering this stacked field to earn himself his first WSOP bracelet. That does it for our coverage of Event #5: €10,450 Mixed Max - No-Limit Hold'em, be sure to tune into our coverage of the Main Event!