The final day of Event #34, $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em, began with 21 bracelet hopefuls, but when the last card was dealt in the very early hours of Friday morning, Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin held all the chips to take down the coveted WSOP gold bracelet.
Marc Whitford ($15,242), Matt Heiligenthaler ($15,242), and Praz Bansi ($15,242) were the first three players eliminated on Day 3 as the remaining 18 consolidated to two tables. James Mackey went all in with , dominating Eric Baldwin's . The flop kept Mackey in front, but the on the turn sent Baldwin to Broadway, and when the river bricked out Mackey ($21,533) left the table in 18th place. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier eliminated Joseph Cada ($21,533) in 17th place when ElkY caught a two-outer on the river. Pete Kevorkian was next to join the line at the payout desk ($21,533) when Roland de Wolfe took him out in 16th place.
In back-to-back hands, Joseph Grenon and Sean Mullaghy (each earning ($30,398) were eliminated holding pocket pairs while their opponents (Jonas Klausen and Martin Jacobson respectively) held pocket sevens. Both times, a third seven spiked on the river, sending Grenon out in 15th place and Mullaghy in 14th.
A new chip leader emerged in a pair-vs-pair confrontation involving Grospellier. Roland de Wolfe made a raise to 45,000 in middle position, Grospellier reraised to 130,000 from the button, and Steven Bradbury shoved for about 750,000. De Wolfe folded, as Grospellier made the call, turning over . Bradbury tabled . The board brought no help to Grospellier as he fell to 275,000 while Bradbury held the chip lead with 1,650,000. Eric Baldwin picked up the rest of Grospellier’s chips a few hands later to send ElkY to the rail in 13th place ($30,398).
Pete Sawitzki was the next player to fall when his A-J ran into Robert Mason's A-K to send him home in 12th place ($42,895). Mason departed next when his pocket nines couldn't pass Jonas Klausen's pocket queens as he finished in 11th ($42,985) as the remaining players gathered around the unofficial final table. Young Phan was the short stack at the table, and became the final table bubble boy ($42,985) when his couldn’t catch up to the red jacks of Benjamin Scholl. The final table was then seated as shown below:
Seat 1: Jonas Klausen – 2,535,000
Seat 2: Andrew Youngblood – 895,000
Seat 3: Martin Jacobson – 686,000
Seat 4: James Taylor — 859,000
Seat 5: Eric Baldwin – 1,586,000
Seat 6: Eric DeFontes — 385,000
Seat 7: Benjamin Scholl — 1,075,000
Seat 8: Steven Bradbury — 942,000
Seat 9: Roland de Wolfe — 419,000
Eric DeFontes was the first to depart the final table when he pushed all in with pocket fours against Jonas Klausen's . An ace appeared on the flop, and no further fours were coming for DeFontes, who finished in ninth place, earning $60,335 as Klausen padded his chip lead. James Bradbury, who honed his game in a pub poker league, doubled through Klausen when he moved in on the river of the board. When Klausen made the call, Bradbury turned over for a full house. Martin Jacobson moved in with , as Eric Baldwin called with pocket queens, and the ace-free board sent Jacobson home in eighth place, good for $65,487. Shortly before the dinner break, Baldwin would move into second chp position when he doubled up through Bradbury with pocket kings versus Bradbury's pocket queens.
On the first hand after the dinner break, Steven Bradbury was the next player eliminated when his dominating was overcome by James Taylor’s , as Taylor flopped a nine to send Bradbury home in seventh ($74,352). In a battle of the blinds, Jonas Klausen flopped a straight against Andrew Youngblood's flopped set of sixes, sending Youngblood ($89,222) to the rail in sixth place. Roland de Wolfe was unable to rise above short-stack status in his quest for a second bracelet, eventually heading to the rail in fifth place ($112,957). Benjamin Scholl ($150,133) followed a few hands later when James Taylor spiked an ace on the river to beat Scholl's flopped pair of kings and send Scholl shuffling to a fourth-place exit.
Eric Baldwin was second in chips three-handed, but he soon took over the chip lead from Jonas Klausen. From the big blind, Baldwin called an 180,000 raise from James Taylor in the small blind. When the flop came down , Taylor bet out 235,000, which Baldwin called. The on the turn brought bet of 420,000 from Taylor. Baldwin quickly announced he was all in. After five minutes of deliberation, consisting of staring at the board and asking Baldwin questions (which were left unanswered), Taylor flicked his cards into the muck as Baldwin moved to over 4,300,000.
Baldwin eventually moved to over five million in chips, but Jonas Klausen would retake the chip lead. On the board, Klausen moved in and Baldwin instantly called, turning over for a flush. Klausen revealed for a redraw to a higher flush, and the on the river put Klausen back on top with over five million, as Baldwin fell to two million. Baldwin moved back in contention when he eliminated James Taylor. Baldwin shoved on the flop with and Taylor called all in with . No help came on the turn or river, sending Taylor home in third place, worth $213,046.
Eric Baldwin held a slight chip lead over Jonas Klausen when heads-up play began, and the two traded the lead in the early action. Klausen held the chip advantage going into what became the key hand of the tournament for Baldwin, as he made a 190,000 raise from the button, which Klausen called. The flop came down and Klausen checked. Baldwin bet 255,000 and Klausen check-raised to 805,000. Baldwin instantly moved in, and Klausen snap-called. It was a cooler for Klausen as Baldwin had for a flopped set, while Klausen showed for top two pair. Klausen could win the tournament if another queen or ten appeared, but the and turn and river dropped him down to 1,350,000 while Baldwin had over 8,000,000 to take a commanding chip lead.
The final hand saw Eric Baldwin making another raise on the button to 165,000. Jonas Klausen immediately shoved and Baldwin made an instant call as he turned over while Klausen showed for a classic race situation. The flop gave Klausen outs to a straight. When the dealer turned over the , Klausen's straight outs were gone. The on the river sealed the deal, as Jonas Klausen was out of chips, but he got to pick up $322,371 for his second-place finish.
Eric Baldwin’s “basebaldy” moniker comes from his days playing baseball at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks won the NCAA Division III National championship in 2005, Baldwin's senior year. He now can add a prized WSOP bracelet to his trophy case, along with the $521,932 that goes along with his triumph. For more bracelet winnings moments, check out PokerNews during the rest of the Series, as there's over 20 bracelets still to be won.