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2009 WSOP: Chan Gunning for 11th Bracelet in NLHE Heads-up #29

Johnny Chan

Day 2 of Event #29, $10,000 World Championship Heads-up No-Limit Hold’em, concluded three rounds of play with eight players remaining. When the players return for Day 3, most eyes will be on Johnny Chan, as he attempts to tie Phil Hellmuth’s record of 11 gold bracelets with a win in this event. John Duthie, Dustin “Neverwin” Woolf, and Steve O'Dwyer will be among the players standing in Chan's way.

The first of three rounds of Day 2 had 64 players facing off against each other, with only the winners getting any cash. Dmitry Lesnoy was the first to make the money when he eliminated Antonio Esfandiari, guaranteeing himself at least $17,987 in the process. Other first-round winners included Andrew Lichtenberger, Jonathan Jaffe, Brock Parker, Jason Mercier, Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, Leo Wolpert, John Duthie, Yevgeiniy Timoshenko, Steve Zolotow, and Dragan Galic.

Brian Lemke, who recently won his first bracelet in Event #15, $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em, was down to his last 20,000 against Michael Banducci. Less than 15 minutes later, Lemke had doubled up three straight times to move into the chip lead; he then disposed of Banducci to move on to the next round. Chris Ferguson, Tom Dwan, Vanessa Rousso, Erik Seidel, and Jeff Madsen all finished just short of the money as they lost their first matches of the day.

Mike Caro and Alexey Popov staged a marathon match to conclude the day’s first round. The chip lead changed hands several times, but both were unable to close out the deal as the match dragged on for over four hours. The match took so long that the other second-round matches began while they were still finishing up. With 240,000 in chips between them, the blinds had moved to the 8,000/16,000 level before Mike Caro finally disposed of Alexey Popov to join the rest of the Round 2 participants.

Round 2 started with 16 heads-up contests, with each of the winners guaranteed at least $38,424. Justin Smith was the first to move on, defeating Dragan Galic in short order. Johnny Chan, Dustin Woolf, Nathan Doudney, Bryan Pellegrino, Jamin Stokes, Mike Caro, Benjamin Sprengers, and Steve O'Dwyer were among the 16 survivors to move on to the final match of Day 2. Bryan Pellegrino and Leo Wolpert were both able to recover from early deficits to come back and defeat their opponents and move on. Benjamin Lamb and Jason Mercier got into a back-and-forth battle, but Mercier eventually finished off Lamb to join the other winners. In the final match of Round 2, John Duthie disposed of Andrew Lichtenberger to fill out the remaining field of 16 players.

The eight winners of the third round were each guaranteed $92,580. Nathan Doudney became the first player to make the final eight when his pocket queens bested Jason Mercier's pocket jacks in the final hand of their match. Dustin “Neverwin” Woolf moved into an early lead against Mike Caro, disposing of the “Mad Genius” when he made quad kings on the final hand of their match. Bryan Pellegrino was the next to move on to Day 3, defeating Yevgeniy Timoshenko as he made a full house against Timoshenko's flush and straight draws. Justin Smith looked to double up with {Q-Spades}{5-Diamonds} against Johnny Chan's {9-Hearts}{8-Hearts} on the {K-Hearts}{5-Hearts}{4-Clubs} board. Chan caught the {9-Diamonds} on the turn and when the {3-Clubs} fell on the river, Chan moved on to the final eight.

Jamin Stokes would be the fifth player to move on to the quarterfinals when he defeated Alec Torelli (who finished second to Kenny Tran in this event last year). Benjamin Sprengers moved the rest of his chips into the middle with {Q-Hearts}{J-Hearts}, only for John Duthie to make the call with {A-Spades}{A-Hearts}. The aces held to send Sprengers to the rail. Leo Wolpert topped Mathieu Clavet in the penultimate match of the night, leaving Roberto Romanello and Steve O'Dwyer to battle it out for the last spot.

O’Dwyer was in bad shape when he moved all in with {J-Hearts}{10-Diamonds} against {A-Hearts}{Q-Spades} for Romanello, but a jack on the flop kept O'Dwyer alive. The final hand of the match saw Roberto Romanello holding {J-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds} and shoving all in against O'Dwyer's dominating {A-Hearts}{J-Clubs}. The flop was kind yet again for Steve O'Dwyer as an ace flopped and no further help came for Roberto Romanello, sending him home as the final elimination of the evening.

Here's the first round of Day 3 matches starting at 2pm PDT:

Leo Wolpert vs. Dustin Woolf
Jamin Stokes vs. Johnny Chan
Nathan Doudney vs. Bryan Pellegrino
John Duthie vs. Steve O'Dwyer

Play will continue with the final two playing a best-of-three match to determine the winner, who will take home $625,682 and a prized WSOP gold bracelet. Will the “Orient Express” roll into the record books with a win in this event? PokerNews will be there to cover all the exciting heads-up action!

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