After surviving a star-studded field and an epic heads-up battle, Vitaly Lunkin became the winner of the biggest buy-in hold’em event in World Series history when he eliminated Isaac Haxton to claim the bracelet in Event #2, $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em. Lunkin, who won his first WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event last year, picked up $1,891,012 for outlasting one of the toughest fields of the year.
Isaac Haxton took the chip lead into the final table, which eventually lasted for over ten hours. Play at the final table kicked off slowly, but after a couple of orbits the short stacks decided on one last battle, as Noah Schwartz raised enough from the big blind to put Ted Forrest all in. Forrest made the call with from the small blind, and was only slightly behind Schwartz’ . The flop gave Forrest outs to a straight, but Schwartz picked up flush outs at the same time. The on the turn gave Forrest even more outs, but when the river revealed the , Schwartz’ pocket threes held up to send Forrest to the rail in ninth place ($230,317).
Busting Forrest didn’t give Schwartz enough breathing room to stay alive though, and he was next to fall. Schwartz moved all in from early position, and showed when Greg Raymer moved all in over the top to isolate. Raymer was well ahead with and Schwartz was drawing dead by the turn as the board ran out . Schwartz picked up $246,834 for his eighth-place finish.
Raymer continued his tear through the final table when he busted Lex Veldhuis in seventh place ($277,940). Raymer raised preflop, then called when Veldhuis moved all in over the top. Raymer once again showed a big pocket pair as he tabled kings to Veldhuis’ . No help came for Veldhuis on the flop, which read . The on the turn meant than only an ace on the river could save Veldhuis, and when the river brought the , Lex Veldhuis was finished.
Alec Torelli took home $329,730 for sixth place after he moved all in preflop with and got called by Isaac Haxton, who was dominating with . Haxton moved further ahead on the flop, but Torelli picked up outs to chop when the hit the turn. The river was the , no help to either player, and Torelli’s tournament was over.
Justin Bonomo and Isaac Haxton went to battle one last time, with Bonomo coming out the worse for wear as he busted in fifth place ($413,166). Bonomo raised preflop, and both Haxton and Raymer called to see the flop of . Haxton bet out at the flop, and Raymer got out of the way. Bonomo moved all in with , and Haxton snap-called with . The bigger overpair held as the turn and river came down and , and Bonomo headed to the rail.
Four-handed play went on for awhile before Dani Stern decided to make his move. Stern moved all in preflop with and Haxton called from the small blind with . Greg Raymer folded his big blind, and the flop came down , no help to either player. The turn and river brought running deuces, and Haxton’s trip deuces with an ace was enough to eliminate Stern in fourth place ($548,315).
Just a few hands later, Greg Raymer made his final stand. Raymer raised preflop from the button with , and Isaac Haxton three-bet from the big blind with . Raymer moved all in over the top, and Haxton quickly called. Presto was no good for the former world champ as the board ran out to give Raymer a third-place exit worth $774,927 and Haxton a big chip lead going into heads-up play.
Despite the 2-to-1 chip lead Haxton took into the heads-up duel, the endgame lasted for over two hours. Haxton and Lunkin traded double-ups and chip leads like kids swapping baseball cards, until finally there was one last huge confrontation. In the final hand of the morning, Haxton raised preflop and Lunkin called. The flop came down , and Haxton led out holding for bottom pair. Lunkin moved all in over the top and Haxton called, only to see Lunkin table . Haxton needed a diamond, eight, or three to stay alive, and the on the turn was no help. When the river brought the , Lunkin’s aces held to bust Haxton in second place ($1,168,566) as the Russian picked up his second WSOP bracelet and the $1,891,012 top prize.