Andrew Jeffreys and the late-surging Blair Hinkle are neck and neck going into the finals of Event #23, $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em, having amassed over a million chips each, while Day 1 leader Justin Dirksen holds third, well ahead of the rest of the pack. Day 2 started with a field of 134 and by the end of the day, was down to the final nine who will compete on Saturday for the bracelet and the $507,563 first-place prize money.
The names, hometowns, and chip counts of the nine at the final table are:
Seat 1: Andrew Jeffreys (Melbourne, Australia) — 1,051,000
Seat 2: Blair Hinkle (Kansas City, Missouri) — 1,030,000
Seat 3: Dominik Kulicki (Amsterdam, Netherlands) — 241,000
Seat 4: Daniel O'Brien (Las Vegas, Nevada) — 456,000
Seat 5: Mark Brockington (Edmonton, Alberta) — 552,000
Seat 6: Chris Bjorin (London, United Kingdom) — 247,000
Seat 7: Dustin Dirksen (Iowa City, Iowa) — 867,000
Seat 8: David Steicke (Hong Kong) — 611,000
Seat 9: Stephane Tayar (Saint Mande, France) — 323,000
The day started with the countdown to the money, as 35 players had to be knocked out before the remaining players would cash. Phil Hellmuth was one of those players eliminated before the money, when his attempt to double up from the short stack proved unsuccessful. Finding pocket fours in the hole, Hellmuth pushed all in. Unfortunately for him, his opponent, Russell Carson, won the race against Hellmuth when his A-Q made a higher pair on the 10-3-6-Q-6 board and Hellmuth was out.
Tim Phan also headed out the door without cashing, similarly a victim of a losing pocket pair. Low on chips, Phan had moved all in preflop with jacks. His opponent, Ken Justin, was well ahead with kings. The flop started promising for Phan, but quickly soured, J-K-6. The turn and the river were blanks and Phan was out before the money.
Senovio Ramirez's bad luck was good luck for others near the bottom of the chip count, when he was eliminated in 100th place, the bubble spot. Ramirez' pocket kings ran up against the pocket rockets of Andrew Gordon. No help on the board meant much celebration for the remaining 99 players, who all would cash. For some notable players, however, the celebration would be short-lived – Bill Gazes was out in 88th, taking home $4,892, Kent Washington was eliminated in 72nd with $6,115, Vivek Rajkumar out in 52nd place, good for $7,583, and Jared Hamby left in 42nd place with $8,317.
A surprising exit from today's event was Barry Greenstein, who had been ninth in chips when the day started. Greenstein had pushed in early position for 41,500, and Chris Dombrowski reraised all in. They went heads up and Dombrowski was ahead from the start to Greenstein's . The board was an unhelpful and Dombrowski was the proud owner of the rest of Greenstein's chips and an autographed copy of his book, Ace on the River. Greenstein was out in 47th place.
Blair Hinkle, whose brother Grant has already won a bracelet at this year's WSOP, made his move up the chip count with just about four tables left by dispatching a number of players in short succession, including Andrew Gordon who had gone all in with A-3. Hinkle looked him up with pocket eights and the eights held up on the 6-6-Q-5-7 board. Gordon was out and Hinkle was up to 370,000 in chips.
End-of-day chip leader Andrew Jeffreys had a spot of bad luck, but he rose above it, dominating every table he was at. In one hand, however, it was the dealer, and not another player, that bested Jeffreys. Jeffreys had been dealt pocket kings when a misdeal was declared. Apparently, the dealer had started at the wrong seat and the hands were declared dead. Jeffreys took it good-naturedly and was rewarded by the poker gods as he led most of the day from there.
Jeffreys and Hinkle mixed it up in the late going with each of them winning one of the encounters. In the first hand, after a preflop raise by Hinkle, they called it down to the river. With a board showing 9-8-5-2-A, Hinkle bet out and Jeffreys called. "Nice call," said Hinkle. Jeffreys flipped over A-10 and Hinkle mucked. Round one to Jeffreys.
In their second encounter, however, Hinkle took a large chunk of Jeffreys' chips and avoided elimination just before the final nine were set. Apparently not afraid to go up against the chip leader for his tournament life, Hinkle shoved for the rest of his chips preflop after he had been reraised by Jeffreys. Jeffreys called and they showed their cards for Jeffreys and for Hinkle. Hinkle was ahead, then the board came and Jeffreys began the chant, "diamond, diamond," though he had other outs as well. But Hinkle dodged them all as the river was the and Hinkle had doubled up.
Severely short-stacked, Alessandro Dalbello pushed for his remaining 100,000 under the gun when ten plays remained. David Steicke called and the rest of the table folded. Dalbello was behind to Steicke's . No unexpected outcome from the board, which ran out , and Dalbello was out, just missing the final table, taking home $29,108 for his tenth-place finish.
The final table will start at 2:00 pm Pacific Time on Saturday. Visit PokerNews.com for live reporting of this and all the other WSOP events.