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2009 WSOP: PLH #45, Kabbaj in Command of Final 14

John Kabbaj

Eighty-five players returned to the Rio for Day 2 of Event #45, $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em, with Michiel Brummelhuis leading the way as play resumed. By the end of the night the field had thinned all the way to 14 players, well past the money bubble, and Brummelhuis was history, along with many other top pros, as John Kabbaj took over the chip lead in dramatic fashion. Kabbaj finished Day 2 with 2,226,000 in chips as JC Alvarado, his nearest opponent, was sitting on just 924,000!

It took a long day and a couple of huge confrontations for Kabbaj to gain such a dominant position, as there were plenty of big-name players still in the field when Day 2 kicked off. Terrence “Not Johnny” Chan was one of the early eliminations when he got into a battle of the blinds with Michael Pesek. All the money went in preflop, and Chan was drawing thin with {7-Clubs}{7-Spades} to Pesek’s pocket aces. Nothing out of the ordinary came on the board, and Chan was done. Other early bust-outs included Juha Helppi, Kathy Liebert, David “Chino” Rheem, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier.

Michael Pesek was the tournament bubble boy when he was knocked out in 28th place. He called a raise from Bryn Kenney to see the {9-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}{3-Clubs} flop, and then went for the check-raise after Kenney led out. Kenney moved all in with {K-Clubs}{6-Clubs}, and the pot-committed Pesek called with {K-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}. Pesek could survive with a ten or running diamonds, and when the turn and river came down {5-Diamonds} and {K-Hearts}, his bluff was rewarded with a bubble bust-out.

Masaaki Kagawa was one of the first post-bubble eliminations when he lost a race against Michiel Brummelhuis to finish in 25th place ($24,066). Then came the turning point of the day, as Bryn Kenney and John Kabbaj tangled in a bona fide monster pot. Kenney opened the action for an early-position raise, then Kabbaj three-bet from the big blind. Kenney four-bet, Kabbaj put in yet another raise, and Kenney moved all in over the top. Kabbaj made the call, and the first million-chip pot of the event was up for grabs. When the hands were revealed, Kenney had run into the ultimate cooler; his pocket kings were looking straight down the barrel of Kabbaj’s {A-Clubs}{A-Spades}. The board ran out {8-Clubs}{4-Clubs}{Q-Spades}{2-Spades}{5-Hearts}, and Kabbaj took a massive chip lead.

It was just a few hands later when the John Kabbaj show really got underway, as he took out Keven Stammen in 23rd and Bryn Kenney in 22nd in one fell swoop. Stammen opened the action with a raise, and Kabbaj reraised. Kenney then moved all in over the top from the big blind, and Stammen called all in for less. Kabbaj called with {A-Diamonds}{K-Hearts} to Stammen’s {J-Hearts}{J-Spades}, and Kenney was looking for help with {10-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. Stammen held the lead through the {5-Spades}{2-Clubs}{8-Clubs} flop, but the {A-Hearts} on the turn changed everything as Kabbaj took control. The {9-Clubs} on the river was no help for anyone, and Stammen and Kenney each picked up $24,066 as Kabbaj locked up his chip lead even tighter.

As the evening wore on, Michiel Brummelhuis (21st, $24,066), “Simpsons” creator Sam Simon (20th, $24,066), and Erik Seidel (19th, $24,066) all headed to the rail. After Seidel’s elimination, the field redrew for the final two tables and the last few bust-outs of the night.

They came in the form of Florian Langmann (16th, $32,209) and Vanessa Rousso (15th, $43,091). Langmann saw a three-way pot with Billy Kopp and John Kabbaj, and then moved all in after the {K-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{3-Clubs} flop came down. Kopp raised to isolate, and Kabbaj got out of the way. Langmann showed {6-Hearts}{6-Spades}, but was in deep trouble against Kopp’s {A-Clubs}{A-Spades}. The {2-Diamonds} on the turn was no help for Langmann, and when the river came down the {Q-Hearts}, his tournament was over.

Vanessa Rousso was the last woman standing in the event and she became the final elimination of Day 2 when she fell to Eugene Todd in 15th place. Todd led out at the {5-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}{4-Clubs} flop, and Rousso raised the pot. Todd moved all in over the top, and Rousso called all in. Both players tabled top pair, but Rousso had {10-Diamonds}{9-Spades} for the better kicker, as Todd could only muster {9-Clubs}{8-Diamonds}. But the {8-Clubs} hit the turn to give Todd the lead and leave Rousso looking for a non-club ten to stay alive. The river was the {6-Spades}, and the Day 3 field was set at fourteen.

Join PokerNews at 1PM local time as the survivors play their way down to the coveted WSOP bracelet.

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